Backpack the Lead King Basin Trail

Details

Distance

4.5 miles

Elevation Gain

2000 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Added by Matt Johnson

One of the best backpacking trips I've ever taken. Challenging, scenic, and remote. 

We began our hike at the beginning of the afternoon after about two-three hours driving up the 14 mile road. The first mile of the trail was mild, turning into an uphill adventure. Lots of switchbacks, winding paths, and some tree coverage. By mile 2, we were on a steep grade the rest of the way. Following a river stream most of the way up, the density of the forest began to engulf the trail. Towards the end of the hike, we began to approach the timberline, but never crossed it. When we reached our camp spot, we were situated close to a lake in the middle of the mountain's valley. 

Overlooking us was Snowmass Mountain, which my friend told me was a 5 mile day hike. We made a dispersed camp, with no actual campsites around, surrounded by snow piles and limited tree growth. We were planning on attempting the peak, however, due to incoming thunderstorms the next day, we packed camp and headed back down to the lower parking lot. 

After arriving back at our car and waiting out the storm, we headed back down the road (FR 314). Along the way, we came across the Crystal Mill (See Hike by Lizard Lake to Crystal Mill adventure by Mike Fennell)

Directions:

From Carbondale, drive 21.5 miles south on CO 133. Turn left on Gunnison County Road 3 toward the town of Marble (this road may be labeled as FR 314 on some maps). Measure the mileage from here:  

  • Drive 5.5 miles to the center of Marble and continue through the town.  
  • Pass a church at 5.8 mi. and Beaver Lake at 6.2 mi. - At 7.0 miles, the road becomes rough.  
  • At 7.7 miles, there is a junction. Turn left on FR 315 for Lead King Basin. 
  • The remaining 6 miles is rough and narrow. 4wd vehicles only.  
  • At 9.7 miles, there is another junction. Stay left on FR 315.  
  • After a long drive with many switchbacks, reach the trailhead at 13.8 miles. It's on a corner, near a meadow, just after you cross a small stream.  
  • The trail starts just below the small parking area. A short distance up the trail there is a set of signs.
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Known for

Camping
Swimming
Backpacking
Hiking
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Waterfall

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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