Late 19th-century prospectors acted hastily when they set up shop at 12,000 feet to mine a thick vein of mountain-bound gold outside Leadville. The ore’s purity was lousy, and this would-be gold town busted before it boomed. But with rare wildflowers like the blueleaf cinquefoil, and nonstop views of the Tenmile Range, the 5.6-mile round-trip on the Mayflower Gulch Trail delivers the goods before you even reach the first ruin. Follow the well-maintained trail and emerge into the large basin at the foot of Fletcher Mountain and Pacific Peak. A mile from the trailhead, the shambles of mining cabins flank both sides of the trail; defunct tram structures appear at mile two. Take a picture of Fletcher Mountain (13,951 feet) through an empty window, then summit from the south ridge.
Nosh spicy shrimp at Manuelita’s Restaurant in Leadville, across from the Tabor Opera House. (719) 486-0292
From Denver, take I-70 west to Copper Mountain, exit 195. Go south on CO 91 for 5.8 miles. The Mayflower Gulch trailhead is on the left.