Viewing Tubes Bring Peaks Into Focus
The VTP on The MBT: A Boy Scouts Project
Tomorrow July 29 marks 19 years (July 29, 2000) for Leadville’s premier walking, biking, running, longboarding, skiing, snowshoeing and anything else non-motorized trail!
The story of the Mineral Belt Trail (MBT) is one of great community collaboration, with everyone working towards a common goal. Many locals and visitors use the trail daily. Everyone has their favorite route, or spot where they take in the view or catch their breath. To celebrate the MBT’s anniversary, here’s a story about a little-known feature along this wonderful path. Let’s see how many readers already know about it!
This feature does have an official name, although its 17-year-old sign is now worn and faded by the weather and sun. This hidden gem can be found between MBT mile markers 10 & 11, the portion of the trail that has the “gold” stripe as its centerline, with the closest access point being at Dutch Henri Hill.
Have you ever stopped at the Viewing Tubes Park? It’s camouflaged into the scenery, and about 40 feet off the trail, so you have to know just where to look. The tubes were the Eagle Scout Project for a Leadville Boy Scout and are precisely arranged to allow viewers to look through the scope, viewing a particular peak. Then peak peerers can simply look down to identify the correct name of the mountain – each of which is labeled vertically down the scope’s stand: Mt. Elbert, Mt. Massive, Mt. Sheridan, Mt. Sherman, Mt. Hope, and Mt. Galena. No more wondering; which may not be a challenge for locals but can be for visitors.
In addition to the viewing tubes, the park also has a couple of picnic tables (well-weathered, requiring a splinter-beware approach) and a bike rack. The entire park has a camouflage theme, making it a bit challenging to see from the MBT.
The Viewing Tubes Park project was done congruent with the MBT construction, hoping to earn the young man a prestigious Eagle Scout Badge. Now for those who may not know, this badge includes an extensive service project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads, and manages.
The award visibly recognizes his accomplishments, in this case, providing solid geographical information to tens of thousands of folks who use the MBT every year. Job well-done and the Scout surely earned his award! Now maybe the area can be brought back to its former glory by another youth organization! The sign needs re-painting, the trees in some of the viewing tube “sights” need to be trimmed in order for the peak to be viewed correctly, the picnic tables need sanding and painting. Remember, Leadville is a town of history, it’s time to start taking care of what the community already has – like the VTP on the MBT!
Be sure to make the Viewing Tubes Park one of your stops the next time you’re out on Leadville’s Mineral Belt Trail. Happy Anniversary, MBT . . . and many more to come!
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