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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > Pike and San Isabel National Forests > Leadville Ranger District

Quick Facts

Turquoise Lake General Forest Area





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General Description

Turquoise Lake from Dam
Copyright: Marshall Hall - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
Turquoise Lake from Dam
Turquoise Lake was named for the semiprecious stone that was mined in the surrounding area. Most of the mining activity took place in the 1930's when two Navaho Indians discovered nearly a thousand pounds of rough material in the area. The turquoise was found in veins and in nodule form at the Turquoise Chief Mine and Poor Boy Lode. Today, much of the area outside the lake is privately owned, so please be respectful of their rights.

Turquoise Lake plays an important part in the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. Authorized in 1962, the project consisted of the expansion of the original diversion of the Fryingpan River through the old Buck-Ivanhoe Tunnel after the abandonment of the Colorado Midland Railroad. The project provides
water to the residents east of the Rockies and power to all of Colorado, as the water is pumped through the Mount Elbert Power Plant at Twin Lakes.

When the project was expanded, an additional tunnel, the Charles Boustead Tunnel brought water to be stored behind Sugar Loaf Dam from the western slope. From Turquoise Lake, the water travels through a conduit to the Twin Lakes Forebay. The Buck-Ivanhoe Tunnel, which was used by the Colorado Midland Railroad, was renamed the Carlton Tunnel when it was opened to auto traffic in 1922. In the 1940's, the tunnel caved in, but the bore was reopened to repair the flume for the water diversion project.

"When the Fryingpan-Arkansas project was undertaken, Turquoise Lake was enlarged to a capacity of seventy thousand acre feet in order to store the water coming in" (Simmons 296). Today the expanded Turquoise Lake serves as one of the most popular recreation areas in Lake County.

Directions from Leadville: From Harrison Street turn on to West Sixth Street to County Road 4. Make a right on to County Road 4, at the "T", and drive to County Road 9 and the Sugarloaf Dam Site. County Road 9 circles Turquoise Lake.

Seasonal Information:
Normal Summer Season: Late May through October (NOTE: At 10,000 feet, the weather can vary tremendously. Summer temperatures range from 30 degrees at night to an occasional 80 degree day. The average daytime temperature is 65 degrees. Weather can change quickly, a hot day can turn to a drenching downpour) . Normal Winter Season: November through April (NOTE: A plethora of Winter recreation opportunities are available for visitors to the Turquoise Lake General Forest Area.) .



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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Powered Boating Turquoise Lake
Yes
ICON Sailing Turquoise Lake
Yes
ICON Unpowered Boating Turquoise Lake
Yes
ICON Camping Silver Dollar Campground, Belle of Colorado Campground, Baby Doe Campground, Molly Brown Campground, Father Dyer Campground, Mayqueen Campground, Tabor Campground, Printer Boy Group Campground
Yes
ICON Family Camping Silver Dollar Campground, Belle of Colorado Campground, Baby Doe Campground, Molly Brown Campground, Father Dyer Campground, Mayqueen Campground, Tabor Campground
Yes
ICON RV Camping Silver Dollar Campground, Baby Doe Campground, Molly Brown Campground, Father Dyer Campground, Mayqueen Campground, Tabor Campground, Printer Boy Group Campground
Yes
ICON Tent Camping Belle of Colorado Campground
Yes
ICON Trailer Camping Silver Dollar Campground, Baby Doe Campground, Molly Brown Campground, Father Dyer Campground, Mayqueen Campground, Tabor Campground, Printer Boy Group Campground
Yes
ICON Cross-country Skiing Bear Lake Road, Colorado Trail, Hagerman Pass Road, Turquoise Lake Road, Dam Flats Loop
Yes
ICON Fishing Bear Lake, Galena Lake, Lake Fork Creek, Timberline Lake, Turquoise Lake
Yes
ICON Forest Areas Turquoise Lake General Forest Area
Yes
ICON Four-Wheel Driving Hagerman Pass Road, Bear Lake Road, St. Kevin Road
Yes
ICON Group Picnicking Printer Boy Group Campground
Yes
ICON Hiking & Walking Turquoise Lake Trail, Colorado Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Colorado-Midland Trail, Windsor Lake Trail, Native Lake Trail, Timberline Lake Trail
Yes
ICON Horseback Riding Turquoise Lake Trail, Colorado Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Colorado-Midland Trail, Windsor Lake Trail, Native Lake Trail, Timberline Lake Trail, St. Kevin Loop, Hagerman Pass Road, Bear Lake Road
Yes
ICON Big Game Hunting Holy Cross Wilderness Area, Hunter Fryingpan Wilderness Area
Yes
ICON Bird Identification Native Lake Trail, Timberline Lake Trail, Colorado Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Colorado-Midland Trail, Windsor Lake Trail, Turquoise Lake Trail
Yes
ICON Animal Identification Native Lake Trail, Timberline Lake Trail, Colorado Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Colorado-Midland Trail, Windsor Lake Trail, Turquoise Lake Trail
Yes
ICON Mushroom Identification Turquoise Lake Trail, Colorado Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Colorado-Midland Trail, Windsor Lake Trail, Native Lake Trail, Timberline Lake Trail
Yes
ICON Plant Identification Turquoise Lake Trail, Colorado Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Colorado-Midland Trail, Windsor Lake Trail, Native Lake Trail, Timberline Lake Trail
Yes
ICON Wildflower Identification Turquoise Lake Trail, Colorado Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Colorado-Midland Trail, Windsor Lake Trail, Native Lake Trail, Timberline Lake Trail, St. Kevin Loop, Hagerman Pass Road, Bear Lake Road
Yes
ICON Mountain Biking St. Kevin Loop, Turquoise Lake Trail, Hagerman Pass
Yes
ICON ATV Riding Hagerman Pass Road, Bear Lake Road, St. Kevin Road
Yes
ICON Motorcycle Riding Hagerman Pass Road, Bear Lake Road, St. Kevin Road
Yes
ICON Canoeing Turquoise Lake
Yes
ICON Picnicking Lady of the Lake Picnic Ground, Maid of Erin Picnic Ground
Yes
ICON Backcountry Skiing Uncle Buds Hut, Skinner Hut, Betty Bear Hut
Yes
ICON Snowmobiling Hagerman Pass Road,Turquoise Lake Road, St. Kevin Loop
Yes
ICON Snowshoeing Hagerman Pass Road,Turquoise Lake Road, St. Kevin Loop, Bear Lake Loop, Dam Flats Loop
Yes
ICON Viewing Scenery Turquoise Lake Trail, Colorado Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Colorado-Midland Trail, Windsor Lake Trail, Native Lake Trail, Timberline Lake Trail, St. Kevin Loop, Hagerman Pass Road, Bear Lake Road
Yes
ICON Viewing Wildlife Turquoise Lake Trail, Colorado Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Colorado-Midland Trail, Windsor Lake Trail, Native Lake Trail, Timberline Lake Trail, St. Kevin Loop, Hagerman Pass Road, Bear Lake Road
Yes
ICON Waterskiing & Other Water Sports Turquoise Lake
Yes
ICON Electric Powered & Non-Motorized Boating Turquoise Lake
Yes
ICON Boating Turquoise Lake
Yes
ICON Boat Launching Matchless Boat Ramp, Tabor Boat Ramp
Yes
ICON Backpacking Colorado Trail, Continental Divide Trail
Yes



Related Activities
Abe Lee Angler Parking - Abe Lee Fishing Site is located on the southern shore of Turquoise Lake, six miles west of Leadville. Fair to good fishing, as well as a plethora of other recreation opportunities are accessible from this site.

Baby Doe Campground - Baby Doe Campground is one of 8 campgrounds surrounding Turquoise Lake. It has 50 reservable sites with a maximum trailer size for the campground of 32'.

Belle Of Colorado Campground - Belle of Colorado Campground is one of 8 campgrounds surrounding Turquoise Lake. Tent sites only are available at this campground.

Butcher Boy Family Picnic Ground - Butcher Boy Picnic Ground and Angler Parking is locate on the western shore of Turquoise Lake. It is a day use area that closes at 10:00 p.m.

Colorado Midland-Hagerman Pass Trail - This is a moderately easy loop in the Hagerman Pass area. This is a great walk for those with an interest in railroad and western history.

Colorado Trail (Turquoise Lake to Halfmoon Creek) - This section of the Colorado Trail is known as #10. It begins west of Turquoise Lake and ends 11.5 miles later in the Halfmoon Creek drainage.

ColoradoTrail (Tennessee Pass to Turquoise Lake) - This segment of the Colorado Trail leads users through lodgepole, spruce-fir and aspen forests. It consists of moderately difficult terrain.

Father Dyer Campground - The following eight campgrounds surround Turquoise Lake: Baby Doe, Belle of Colorado, Father Dyer, Molly Brown, Printer Boy, Silver Dollar and Tabor. The Father Dyer Campground has the capacity to house trailers up to 32'.

Hagerman Pass - Visitors traveling the entire Hagerman Pass Road from Turquoise Lake Road (Forest Road 105) to Fryingpan Lakes Road (State Highway 4) drive 22.5 miles.

Lady of the Lake Picnic Ground - Lady of the Lake Picnic Ground is located on the eastern shore of Turquoise Lake six miles west of Leadville. Access to the lake as well as recreation opportunities in the surrounding terrain make this a popular site.

Maid of Erin Family Picnic Ground - Maid of Erin Picnic Ground is located on the eastern shore of Turquoise Lake six miles west of Leadville. Access to the lake as well as recreation opportunities in the surrounding terrain make this a popular site.

Matchless Boat Launch - On the shores of Turquoise Lake are two paved boat ramps. Matchless Boat Ramp is located on the southeastern shore of the lake.

May Queen Campground - The following eight campgrounds surround Turquoise Lake: Baby Doe, Belle of Colorado, Father Dyer, Molly Brown, Printer Boy, Silver Dollar and Tabor. The Mayqueen offers 13 reservable sites of 27 without flush toilets and sinks.

Molly Brown Campground - The following eight campgrounds surround Turquoise Lake: Baby Doe, Belle of Colorado, Father Dyer, Molly Brown, Printer Boy, Silver Dollar and Tabor. The Molly Brown Campground offers 47 reservable sites.

Native Trail - This trail exists within the Mount Massive Wilderness Area. Hikers or horseback riders may use a number of different trail routes that vary in difficulty and/or length.

Silver Dollar Campground - The following eight campgrounds surround Turquoise Lake: Baby Doe, Belle of Colorado, Father Dyer, Molly Brown, Printer Boy, Silver Dollar and Tabor. Thirty-nine of the Silver Dollar's sites are reservable with the capacity to house trailers up to 22'.

St. Kevin Road - St. Kevin Road can be used for many recreation opportunities. Four-wheel drivers, motorcyclists, mountain bikers and ATV riders can enjoy it during the summer months. Snowmobilers enjoy it during the winter.

Tabor Boat Launch - On the shores of Turquoise Lake are two paved boat ramps. Tabor Boat Ramp is located on the northeastern shore of the lake.

Tabor Campground - The following eight campgrounds surround Turquoise Lake: Baby Doe, Belle of Colorado, Father Dyer, Molly Brown, Printer Boy, Silver Dollar and Tabor. Sites at the Tabor Campground are not reservable.

Timberline Trail - This trail accesses Timberline Lake in the Holy Cross Wilderness. This is open to foot traffic only.

Turquoise Lake Dam Trail - The trail runs from the Sugar Loaf Dam to May Queen campground, paralleling the shoreline of Turquoise Lake.



More Information

Visitor Information:

Leadville Ranger District, U.S. Forest Service, 2015 North Poplar , Leadville, CO, 80461, Phone: 719-486-0749, Fax: 719-486-0928

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