Leadville, Colorado (Lake) Technical Rating: 5
Last Updated: 11-30-2016
Hagerman Pass, Halfmoon Creek, Lily Lake, Mount Zion, Slide Lake, Wurts Ditch
Leadville Ranger District
Birdseye Gulch Highlights
Located just outside of the highest incorporated city in US, this 4wd off-road trail combines every feature of a classic Jeep road. Birdseye is narrow, rocky, steep, with standing water in places, creek crossings, gorgeous high alpine views, and even some mud. This trail is a side trip off of Mosquito Pass and a much more interesting route than taking the county road up from Leadville.
Technical rating: (5) Moderate
Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves. Rocks up to 12" and water crossings up to 12" with possible currents. Passable mud. Moderate grades to 15 degrees. 6" holes. Side hill to 20 degrees. 4WD required. No width problems.
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Directions to Trailhead
From Denver, take I-70 west to highway 191 south. The trail head is on the left, shortly after mile marker 6.
From Leadville, take highway 191 north. The trail head is on the right, 5.4 miles from the intersection of highway 91 and highway 24. If you reach mile marker 6, you have gone too far.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates:
39° 18' 53.6"N
106° 13' 29.6"W
GPS Exchange File:
Birdseye can be run in either direction, but we found that running it up hill from highway 91 makes the trip a bit more challenging. Start on the valley floor weaving your way around private property before entering dense forest and climbing a rocky, narrow road uphill between Mosquito Peak and Prospect Mountain. Work your way through the trees, across the creek, and even over a set of railroad tracks for an active tourist train. Just as you think the trail is opening up, it surprises you with a stretch of slightly tippy trail leaning you towards the gulch below. Back into more dense forest with slightly larger rocks and more standing water. You finally surpass treeline and start your trek across the alpine tundra and work your way towards the top of the ridge. Once you have crested the ridge, you are now free to explore the many other dirt roads and trails in the area.
1: Start of Birdseye Gulch
Between mile markers 5 & 6, on the east side of highway 91, look for a dirt road leaving the highway and crossing under the power lines. Immediately after leaving the highway, there will be a black mailbox on your left marked, "5340". This wide area is the ideal location to air down.
2: Creek Crossing
After some climbing through the trees for a little bit, you make a hard 90° left turn and come to this gorgeous water crossing. The water at this crossing should be easily passable by any stock 4x4 even during peak runoff.
3: Railroad Crossing
Shortly after the river crossing, you come across a railroad crossing. This is an active crossing for the Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad. The train moves very slowly and also blasts it's horn while coming to the crossing, so do not feel like you have to rush across the tracks to beat a high-speed train.
This train takes you on a 2.5hr journey through the woods to the continental divide along the historic route of past miners. Departure times from Leadville very depending on the month. Check out the link above for more info.
4: Stay Right
Stay right and go southwest at the first Y intersection you reach after the railroad crossing and climb uphill to stay on the main trail. Going to the left leads you to a few, high alpine secluded camping spots.
5: Steep, Loose, Rocky Climb
This rocky climb could be a challenge for low clearance, stock SUVs. Vehicles with good clearance should find it to be no problem.
6: Repaired Mud Bog
Once the location of the famous mud bog, this area was repaired by a local Jeep Club using funds from the Colorado State Parks OHV Sticker Fund.
7: Stay Left
Stay left and go east as you crest the top of the ridge. At this point you will see Mosquito Pass climbing the switchbacks in front of you. Turning right and heading west here will take you on a short trip to the top of 12,500ft Prospect Mountain.
Camping and Lodging
Dispersed camping can be found in a number of areas along Birdseye Gulch. There are also a number of hotels located in Leadville.
Questions & Answers