Lead King Basin

Marble, Colorado (Gunnison County)

Last Updated: 09/12/2019
4.8 /5 ( 5 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Impassable
Typically Open: 05/22 - 11/22
Difficulty: 2-3
(EASY - MODERATE)
Length: 8.1 miles
Highest Elevation: 10750 feet
Duration: About 2 hours
Shape of Trail: Loop
Best Direction to Travel: East
Nearest Town: Marble
Nearest Town w/ Services: Crested Butte
Official Road Name: 315
Management Agency: White River National Forest
District: Aspen-Sopris Ranger District
Distance:
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Lead King Basin
Lead King Basin is another iconic four-wheel drive road in the Crested Butte, Colorado area. It provides spectacular views of several nearby 14,000-ft mountains, plus the rugged Snowmass and Maroon Bells Wilderness Area. The road closes seasonally in the winter, but the summer season presents remarkable wildflowers and panoramic views.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for Lead King Basin

Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
Stock SUV with High Clearance and 4 Low
Concerns:
Summary:
Switchbacks on the eastern segment give this trail its difficulty rating.

Technical Rating: 2-3
(EASY - MODERATE)

Typically, more rock or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 12" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 12" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 24" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep.
Read more about our rating system

Description

Lead King Basin is relatively smooth with few rocky sections and occasional ruts and intermittent water from snowmelt/runoff. From the trailhead, the road climbs gradually and then evens-out as it traverses the ridge approaching the basin. Toward the eastern end, there are numerous switchbacks that descend into the basin and onward to the road’s end at an intersection with Schofield Pass Road. NOTES ON SEASONAL CLOSURE: FS Road 315 (Lead King Basin) closes seasonally each year from November 22nd to May 21st. The closure is from Mile Post 1.1 (from the west end, near the intersection with FS Road 314 (Schofield Pass) to the intersection with FS Road 314 (Schofield Pass) on the east side of the village of Crystal. See the White River National Forest (Aspen/Sopris District) MVUM here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd506000.pdf

Waypoints

1. Trailhead (0.00 mi)
The trailhead is on the Crystal City Trail approximately 1.5 miles east of Marble, where Lead King Basin (shown as "Lost Trail Road" on Google Maps) goes northeast, and the Crystal City Trail continues southeast.
2. Spur Dead End (2.10 mi)
Steer left at the Y. The spur dead-ends after a short distance. The road briefly becomes more rocky in this vicinity.
3. Switchback (2.80 mi)
This switchback provides a fantastic view back toward the western trailhead.
4. Ridge (3.70 mi)
The road levels-out here, following the ridge to the east. More panoramic views from this point.
5. View (4.50 mi)
From this point, one begins to see the Snowmass and Maroon Bells Wilderness Area. Proceed east toward the descending switchbacks.
6. Waterfall (7.60 mi)
Most drivers (and passengers) on Lead King Basin are distracted by the expansive, panoramic views; they often miss seeing this waterfall.
7. End Lead King Basin (8.10 mi)
Proceed with caution around the final switchback, which emerges at an intersection with the Crystal City Trail and Schofield Pass Road. Turn west to go toward Crystal, the Crystal Mill, and Marble. Turn east to take-on the Schofield Pass, featuring the Devil's Punchbowl, and onwards to Schofield Park, Paradise Divide, and Crested Butte.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 39.074843, -107.159050

Starting Point: Glenwood Springs

Lead King Basin can be driven from either direction—west to east, or east to west. The western trailhead is on the Crystal City Trail, about 1.5 miles east of Marble and Beaver Lake. The eastern trailhead is one-half mile east of Crystal, at the end of the Crystal City Trail where that trail intersects with Lead King Basin and Schofield Pass. Both eastern and western trailheads are marked with brown U.S. Forest Service signs. From Glenwood Springs, drive south to Carbondale on Highway 82, and then continue south on County Road 133 toward Redstone. Five miles beyond Redstone, turn east on Highway 3 toward Marble. In Marble, at the intersection of Second Street and Silver Street, turn east toward Beaver Lake; this is the Crystal City Trail. Follow it for approximately 1.5 miles to the three way intersection with Lead King Basin (also called Lost Creek Trail on Google Maps). From Crested Butte, travel north on Gothic Road (County Road 317) for approximately 13 miles. At the north end of Gothic Road is an intersection with Slate River Road (County Road 734), about one-half mile south of Schofield Park (where the brown Forest Service sign indicates "Schofield Park"). Proceed straight on CR 317, across Schofield Park, and down the Devil’s Punchbowl. One-half mile before arriving to Crystal, a U.S. Forest Service sign marks the intersection with Lead King Basin.

Camping

Dispersed
Lead King Basin has numerous dispersed campsites throughout it’s course such as pullouts at Waypoints 4 and 6. Be aware that private property borders the National Forest in the vicinity of the eastern trailhead (intersection with Crystal City Trail east of Crystal). The U.S. Forest Service maintains three campgrounds in the Crested Butte area. See the Forest Service Campgrounds page for more information.
Camping: Lead King Basin

Land Use Issues

None.

Trail Reviews (12)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Trail is Open just drove a tacoma and 4runner through. did the whole loop. you do drive over avalanche debris but it is stable and safe. have fun.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Trail is open all the way though. Someone cleared a path through the avalanche debris using a chainsaw, making it possible to get through without having to leave the trail. Definitely possible to drive through the debris with a full size vehicle. I drove my Colorado ZR2 through no problem.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Impassable
Offroaded on:
Rating:
The road is blocked by avalanche debris at coordinates 39.07723 -107.11922 I entered Lead King Basin from the west and drove to the point of blockage and recorded the GPS coordinates above. There is a narrow track cut through the debris, possibly sufficient to drive an ATV through (personally, I would discourage it) but not adequate to drive a Jeep/truck through without significant additional work. PLEASE do not use any unauthorized bypass (Stay The Trail, Colorado!)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I did not drive lead king basin as I was in an AWD. The staff in the amazing town of Crystal told us that the Lead King Basin Road had just opened that day though!

Author:
Status: Impassable
Offroaded on:
Still impassable. Started from Crystal side just to check.

Author:
Status: Impassable
Offroaded on:
East side has a section that is impassable due to snow and rocks.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Good trail and amazing views. A lot less traffic than the trail to Crystal, which is nice. Be prepared for snow on the Meadow Mountain switchbacks earlier in the season. Also the road is sometimes washed out at Lost Trail Creek. Be sure to set aside a few hours for the hike up to Geneva Lake. The trail head is near way point 6.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
White River National Forest indicates seasonal closures ended as schedule (May 21, 2018) but state further that snow still remains in spots above 9,500' elevation so be aware of runoff and muddy conditions. https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd554376.pdf

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Tuesday morning drive was gorgeous on Lead King Basin. Relatively clear skies and mild temperature. The surface conditions are dusty, and traffic was moderate. I saw three pairs of hikers on the road, and a handful of ATV/UTVs and Jeeps/trucks. Panoramic views on Lead King Basin are hard to beat!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
We did this from the Marble side and are glad we did. Gorgeous route, with few problems all the way up to the last section going down to the Schofield/Crystal road. It was definitely one vehicle wide most of the way across the ridge and down the switchbacks. At about 7.5 miles the road goes up a bit into the last jog before it goes down to the Crystal road. At that point, the road was definitely one vehicle wide and was covered with loose rock chunks about 3-6". No problem going up, but an ATV coming down that had to back up couldn't get traction and another guy and I had to drag the back end around so she could go forward back to the east corner of that jog so I could pass. I asked how far it stayed rocky, and they said it got worse. True. The loose rock was replaced by embedded rock up to about 8" with some 5-8" ledges across the road. My skid plates took a couple of hits. I was glad to see the Crystal road. We continued on to Crystal City, and the Crystal road back to Marble was much easier than the last mile or so of Lead King.

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
The loop is blocked off due to snow. We tried to go up the Crystal side but ended up turning around almost at the top of the loop. It was still an amazing ride!

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Wanted to follow another jeep group onto the Lead King Basin trail but it was roped off on the east end July 30th due to a two vehicle recovery from the creek so we didn't get a chance to ride this trail. According to www.postindependent.com, the incident occurred on July 2nd. One vehicle was hauled out Aug 6-7 weekend and the other vehicle was just removed Aug 13-14 weekend. The great news is that this trail is open again!

Questions & Answers (3)

Q: Any mileage hints as to where some good secluded dispersed sites are along this road? We're making the drive out Thursday afternoon and hoping to find something that's not right next to the road...
–Tony T (06/19/2018)
A: In the area of Waypoint 6 is a primo Campsite near the waterfall. There are a few others, but all relatively close to the road. There is a high spot with a short spur pull- out between Waypoints 4 and 5 suitable for a ground tent or two trucks with rooftop tents.
–Tracy Barker (06/21/2018)
Q: How is the road in terms of water runoff and snow coverage? Would there be snow drifts on the road still?
–Jared (05/31/2018)
A: I drove the Lead King Basin yesterday (6/10/18), and there was zero snow on the roadway. We drove it from Crystal to Marble (the opposite direction shown on this website). The views were stellar, and the runoff was perfect. We have lots of video and pictures from the ride. We even met up with some kayakers at the waterfall and got footage of them. The drive wasn't bad at all in my 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara. We didn't even need 4WD to do the drive.
–Michelle Schoen (06/11/2018)
A: Hi, Jared. I've not been on Lead King Basin since the USFS announced its opening on May 21.(ten days ago). Due to the exposure of this road,it is unlikely that there is snow remaining here unless it is in the canyon vicinity Waypoint 6.
–Tracy Barker (06/02/2018)
Q: If you want to do Lead King Basin in a loop with Crystal City, which direction is recommended?
–John West (08/20/2017)
A: As a loop, and excluding intent to subsequently drive up the Devil's Punchbowl/Schofield Pass, I would recommend approaching from Marble (west) and turn north/northeast to drive Lead King Basin. Then return through Crystal (headed west) to complete the loop.
–Tracy Barker (08/20/2017)

Writer Information

Tracy Barker

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Tracy is an outdoor enthusiast originally from north Alabama. His family moved to central Utah when Tracy was a child, and subsequently to southern Utah, where he fell in love with the Rocky Mountains. His favorite activities are family trail rides and camping with small groups. He started many years ago in his dad's F-150 pickup truck, and subsequently his own 4x4 acquisition, a 1975 Ford Bronco (in 1991).
For individual use only, not to be shared.