Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Windsor Lake Trailhead Hike/ Douglas City Ghost Town/ Opal Lake and Hagerman Pass Railroad {Leadville, CO}

During our camping trip at Turquoise Lake, we decided to take a hike on Friday afternoon. We had originally planned to hike to Windsor Lake so we drove up to the trailhead and started hiking. It was just gorgeous! The hike was one mile and although steep, we thought we wouldn't be hiking long. Well, somehow we turned off the wrong trail and found a totally different hike which took us 3 hours and was around 5 miles long. I am so glad we got lost because the hike we ended up on took us up to the Ghost Town of Douglas City, we saw the Hagerman railroad entrance and we saw 2 different lakes plus a plethora of wildflowers- oh, and snow! Best hike as a family to date. We will definitely be returning!
Ella brought Lilliana, her doll on the whole hike:) 

This is where the trailhead started. There was an old mine shaft by the base of the mountain.

 I loved that the forests were so lush and green and the river 
reminded me of hiking the Appalachian Trail back in PA as a kid. 

 This hike was FULL of wildflowers- all different colors! Breathtakingly beautiful! 

 Almost near the top, we came across the Ghost Town of Douglas City- 
sounds like a pretty crazy place back in the day!

 Opal Lake sits at the bottom of Hagerman Pass. There are supposedly no fish in this lake. The path was VERY steep up to the railroad tracks that led to the tunnel. 

 11,530 ft above sea level! I was out of breath! And the dark clouds rolling in were making me so nervous- especially as this summer there have been a lot of lightning deaths of hikers here in the Rocky Mountains. Thankfully, there was no storm and the dark clouds rolled over quickly. 

The tunnel entrance is filled with rocks from rockslides and 
we got as close as we dared- the tunnel was filled with ice and snow. 

 We followed the railroad path to another lake that we were able to fish out of. 
 Along the railroad bed, there were so many holes in the rock where they probably hammered in the 1800's to put in dynamite. It was cool to show these to the twins because in 4th grade we took a field trip to the Colorado History Museum and they had a whole exhibit about mining in CO and the girls learned how the men would pair up and one would hold the stake and the other would hammer it into the rock. Then the men would place the dynamite and blow the rock up. So cool! 

 We finally came to the second lake- I am not sure its name and the twins got to use their poles. 
 while Elijah played in the snow. 

 From this point, (we were told by a couple hiking a ways down) that the path disappeared but you hike down a bit and it will reappear and take you back to the ghost town. So, we ventured off the path and it was scary to me. I thought for sure we would be lost in the wilderness. But previous hikers had left little rock towers and rock arrows pointing the way. So eventually we found the path again. 

Overall, this was one of my favorite family hikes to date.
 I wish the pictures did it justice because the beauty was overwhelming! 


Jenny from the Block said...

I loved seeing all the wildflowers.

Erika said...

This is a great blog post. The area you explored sounds really interesting. Glad y'all got to go, and glad you were safe!