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Four-Wheel Driving: Colorado > White River National Forest > Sopris Ranger District

Quick Facts

Lead King Basin Road

Beginning Elevation: 7,956 Feet (2480.0 Meters) Marble
Difficulty: More Difficult many narrow sections with steep drops and very few turnouts.
Elevation Gain: 1,844 Feet (574.8 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 8,880 Feet (2768.1 Meters) Crystal City
High Point: 10,800 Feet (3366.6 Meters) Silver Creek Trailhead
Length, One-way: 8 Miles (13.33 Kilometers)
Usage: Moderate

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Lead King Basin four-wheel drive road passes very close to the boundary of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness and affords some spectacular views of mountains, meadows, and canyons. The basin is a great place to view a variety of wildflowers during the late summer. Three trailheads into the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness are located along this road. The old bridge over the Crystal River between Crystal and Lead King Basin is not maintained by the forest service and located on private land. Please respect the privacy of these landowners.

The segment from Marble along Lost Trail Creek to Lead King Basin should not be traveled when it is wet! The road is built on slick shale and slopes towards the valley bottom. Four-wheel drive is required. From Lead King to Crystal City the road is very narrow and extremely rocky. There is a very steep drop-off into the Crystal River Canyon. There are few pullouts on this road and drivers may be required to back-up for considerable distances when another vehicle is met. A high clearance four-wheel drive vehicle is required for this segment. A loop can be made from Marble by traveling along the Crystal River to Crystal City, and then returning to Marble via the Lead King Basin road.

Directions from Carbondale: From Carbondale travel south on Colorado Highway 133 for 22 miles to the Marble turnoff. Go east on the Marble road, through Marble, and past Beaver Lake. The four-wheel drive section begins just past the Gold Pan Gallery. The road begins to head uphill and passes over shale rock. About one mile outside of Marble there is a fork in the road; take the left fork (Forest Road #315). the road immediately heads uphill.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: May through September (NOTE: Snow may obstruct the road during the Spring, Fall and Winter months.) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Jan Patenaude
Time of Day: 12 noon
Length of Time: 4 hours with stops
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Have driven 'the loop' from Marble to Crystal to Lead King and back to Marble many times, but not yet this year. Recommend going this direction, as you are climbing the rockiest areas, rather than pounding 'down' them, putting more risk to underside of vehicle, and will 'meet' less traffic coming the opposite direction.
Conditions: Too early to do this year, still snow up high on the N side of Sheep Mnt. Also, bridge is not yet passable, needing repairs.

Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: for a real grind, start at beaver lake in marble. Climb Daniels hill to the head of the loop. Either direction from there is a great ride. Prepare for a grind either way. Late july the wild flowers are popping like crazy in the Basin. Have fun and prepare to get beat up.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Four-Wheel Driving Lead King Basin Four-Wheel Drive Road
ICON Hiking & Walking Geneva Lake Trail, North Fork Fravert Basin Trail, North Fork Lost Trail, Avalanche-Silver Creek Trail, Carbonate Creek Buckskin Basin Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Lead King Basin Road
ICON Mountain Biking Lead King Basin Road
ICON ATV Riding Lead King Basin Road
ICON Motorcycle Riding Lead King Basin Road

Related Activities
Crystal City Four-Wheel Drive Road - The Deadhorse Mill, or Crystal Mill, a historical landmark, stands next to the Crystal River west of the town of Crystal as a reminder of the mining economy that brought settlers to the region.

Geneva Lake Trail - The easy accessibility of the lake makes it one of the most popular and therefore, one of the most heavily used trails on the district. The trail is moderately steep and has some good views of the surrounding mountains.

North Lost Trail - This hike starts in aspens and soon turns into a pine/spruce forest with numerous meadows of wildflowers. There are nice views of the Raggeds Wilderness to the south and high peaks to the north.

Schofield Pass Four-Wheel Drive Road - Schofield was an old mining town and is now a ghost town with a number of old building still standing. The first portion of the road passes through a narrow, steep canyon which contains a number of picturesque water falls.

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Sopris Ranger District, 620 Main St, P.O. Box 309 , Carbondale, CO, 81623, Phone: 970-963-2266, Fax: 970-963-1012


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