Backpack the Lead King Basin Trail

Rate this Adventure Colorado Lead King Basin Trailhead

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)


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.

Pack List

  • Overnight Backpacking Supplies

Extra Recommended: 

  • Water Filtration
  • Daypack for Additional Hiking to Snowmass Mountain
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Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Swimming

Skill Level:




Trail Type:



4.5 Miles

Elev. Gain:

2000 Feet



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Added by Matt Johnson

As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was going to happen. - Winnie the Pooh

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