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CR2 California Gulch s(u)

The Mosquito Range, east of Leadville, offers only one legal pass to bike over, Mosquito Pass. It is said to be the highest double track crossing in the state. But there are a few other possible excursions into this area, but they stay on the same side of the ridge line, like CR2 up California Gulch. It is paved from the north across the summit. The southern side down Empire Gulch is a jeep road of sorts.

1.(9770ft,mile00) START-END NORTH : Leadville Junction, jct northern access road to Turquoise Reservoir - CR9
2.(10190ft,mile03) join Leadville Main Street, Co91
3.(10160ft,mile04) turn left, then right onto CR2 California Gulch
4.(11180ft,mile08) TOP
5.(10900ft,mile08) going straight goes up Iowa Gulch to Iowa amphitheater. Profile stays right
6.(10720ft,mile09) left goes up towards Empire Gulch. Profile stays straight
7.(10060ft,mile13) cross Co91 on outskirts of Leadville
8.(966-0ft,mile17) START-END SOUTH: southern access road to Turquoise Lake crosses Arkansas River.


From North. In order to get the most elevation gain on a pleasant road, the profile starts on the Arkansas River, between Leadville and Turquoise Lake. There are many ways to pick up California Gulch, east of Leadville. The profile shows the most direct route on city streets. A more pleasant option is to ride on the meticulously paved Mineral Belt bike path s(u). It crosses Co91 in Leadville at the Family Dollar Store, exiting town on the north side. This road is a sort of bicycle belt way around "the City" (if that's what you want to call Leadville). From it one can exit onto one of the various gulches, much like a commuter onto his work place. Unfortunately many of the exits aren't labeled, but the one up California Gulch is in a way. It is not a directional sign, but it is mentioned in one of the various overlook signs, offering small glimpses into the history of the area.

Anyway, once you find it California Gulch begins to climb quite climbs steeply after a while, on nice pavement, with good views onto the Mosquito Range, where it reaches a top. The wall to the east is Mount Sherman, and the space it so abruptly limits is named the Iowa Amphitheater. From this vantage point it is difficult to believe that this mountain is one of the easiest fourteeners to climb, but most definitely not from this side.

From South. (described downwards) After a short downhill, the luxurious pavement ends abruptly at the entrance to Iowa Gulch and its mining operations. The rest of the downhill is on a quickly bikable jeep road of sorts. The first left fork makes an interesting out and back ride up Empire Gulch. The first part of the road is on public access, even if the "no trespassing" signs next to the road are put up to negate that impression. However, Horseshoe Pass, another historic crossing almost as high as Mosquito Pass, cannot be reached over public access.

Below this turnoff the road also follows Iowa Gulch for a while, which then becomes Georgia Gulch. Along the way the road passes an engineering marvel, a beaver damn (picture included). As Georgia Gulch approaches Leadville, it crosses the commuter beltway (Mineral Belt bike path s(u)). Sadly this turnoff is not labeled, but it is the next crossing south of the CR6 crossing to the village dump (excuse me - landfill and recycling station, non covered loads are charged double). Continuing across the belt way, the road becomes CR6a, then CR6. The turnoff to CR6 from Co91 is labeled with a landfill directional sign. The profile continues down the southern access road to Turquoise Lake to a low point.




CR2 California Gulch s(u), CR9 Turquoise Lake s(u): jct southern Turquoise Lake Rd - Arkansas River > Leadville > CMC campus > up Elk Run Wheeler's Trail > north on Mineral Belt bike path > up CR2 California Gulch > CR2 Californa Gulch s(u) <> out and back loop up Empire Gulch and about 500ft above Paddock SWA >> down Iowa Gulch Gulch > down CR6A > down CR6 > northern access road to Turquoise Lake > Turquoise Lake s(u) <> out and back to every view point and lake access point, except campgrounds on eastern side > back to starting point, including a few additional out and backs: 46.9miles with 4450ft of climbing in 4:56hours.