Headed into the high country for some leaf-peeping or other mountain fun? Leadville has long been a top stop for me — fewer crowds, funky-friendly town, situated in a valley at the headwaters of the Arkansas River and flanked by the Mosquito and Sawatch ranges. Haul your longboard, bike or just your stoney self up to the top of the Mineral Belt trail (an 11.6-mile loop) for some of the most magnificent views in the state.
And then it’s time to hit up the aptly named High Mountain Pies, a fitting payoff to any exertion, even if it’s only wandering up and down Harrison Avenue. The spacious back yard, dotted with umbrella-topped picnic tables and garden-ringed grass, is the right choice for al fresco dining, but good luck picking your pie from the tempting roster of intriguing topping options.
I’m usually torn between two: the simple yet scrumptious Margherita (starting at $11.90 for a small, thin-crust), with its garlic oil-slicked fresh Roma tomatoes, cheese mix of mozzarella and Romano, and generous sprinkling of fresh basil, or the Crocodile ($13.75), its base coated in a sweet-and-spicy barbecue sauce, oven-roasted shrimp, real bacon bits, tiny baubles of cream cheese and extra heat courtesy of thin slices of jalapeño.
High Mountain offers thin, thick and gluten-free crusts; they’re all good, even the gluten-free, which comes out as crispy and faintly sweet as the others. Save room for a Big Brownie ($3), if you can.
Convenient to: All of downtown Leadville, within easy biking and slightly less so walking distance to the Mineral Belt trail, and Earl’s Leadville, a well-stocked, locally owned recreational dispensary that sits two blocks away.
Info: High Mountain Pies, 115 W. 4th St., Leadville, 719-486-5555. Click here for details