Thomas Lakes, Thomas Lakes Trailhead, Aspen - Snowmass, Colorado
Thomas Lakes - 7.6 miles
Thomas Lakes Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||7.6 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||8,665' - 10,248' (@ second lake)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,583' net elevation gain (+1,721' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Thomas Lakes - 7.6 Miles Round-Trip
The Thomas Lakes are located 3.8 miles from Dinkle Lake Road at the base of Mount Sopris in the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness. The first lake fills a steep walled bowl that forms Prince Creek; the second lies .2 miles away in a level, more accessible basin.
This feature-filled trail passes through mountain shrublands, high meadows and tall aspen stands to the lakes. It continues 4 miles and 2800' up to Mount Sopris, and many hikers will basecamp at Thomas Lakes en route to the summit.
Camping and campfires are allowed in 13 designated sites within 1/4 mile of the lakes. Dispersed camping is otherwise permitted in outlying areas of the White River National Forest and Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness (see below for details). This is a busy trail corridor, especially on summer weekends - arrive early to secure choice campsites at Thomas Lakes:
The trail climbs steadily in mixed timber to a gate (1.15 miles : 9,230'). It bends south and levels across open shrubland slopes with great views down W. Sopris Creek and out to Hay Park. These sunny slopes are a good place to see flowers and anything moving about.
Bear right at the Hay Park - Thomas Lakes Trail split (1.7 miles : 9,370') and rise through open space to an elevated meadow with great views of Mount Sopris (2.0 miles : 9,595'). The trail enters a tall aspen forest and moderates to a string of glades (2.9 miles : 9,850') that open to big meadows along Prince Creek (3.2 miles : 9,980').
It crosses Prince Creek and passes between a pond and large clearing (3.5 miles : 10,135') to the Maroon Bells Wilderness Boundary and first Thomas Lake (3.8 miles : 10,197'). The trail forks here to designated campsites - follow signs for Mount Sopris to reach the second Thomas Lake (4.0 miles : 10,248').
The first lake is ringed by rugged talus that can limit exploration. Improvise across the outlet to open-rock shores where you'll find few people, excellent views and raspberries popping through the talus. The second lake fills a level (albeit rocky) basin with good access for anglers and more room to explore.
- N39 18.204 W107 07.477 — 0.0 miles : Thomas Lakes Trailhead
- N39 18.013 W107 07.919 — .5 miles : Steady climb in diverse forest
- N39 17.800 W107 07.542 — 1.15 miles : Pass through gate, enter shrublands
- N39 17.547 W107 07.439 — 1.5 miles : Level travel across steep shrubland slope
- N39 17.426 W107 07.357 — 1.7 miles : Hay Park - Thomas Lakes Trail split
- N39 17.453 W107 07.651 — 2.0 miles : Open travel on edge of aspen forest
- N39 17.099 W107 07.811 — 2.5 miles : Rise through aspen and mixed conifers
- N39 16.833 W107 07.935 — 2.9 miles : Forest opens with access to meadows
- N39 16.658 W107 08.148 — 3.2 miles : Cross Prince Creek
- N39 16.402 W107 08.520 — 3.78 miles : Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness Boundary
- N39 16.405 W107 08.538 — 3.8 miles : Thomas Lake
- N39 16.266 W107 08.408 — 4.0 miles : Thomas Lake
- Arrive early to secure choice campsites at the lakes.
- Social trails fan out through the lakes basin. Do your best to stay on designated trails and minimize erosion in this high-traffic area.
- Meadows north of the 3.2 mile crossing of Prince Creek are a great alternative to camping at the lakes if sites are full, or if seeking solitude.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Camping and campfires are permitted at 13 designated sites within 1/4 mile of Thomas Lakes. Camping is only permitted in designated sites at the lakes. Dispersed camping is available in the White River National Forest and MB-SM Wilderness if these sites are occupied. Permits are required at Thomas Lakes and within the Wilderness Area (see below for details).
- Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness. Self-registration permits are available at each trailhead and/or Wilderness Boundary. Backpackers must carry a completed registration form with them for the duration of the trip.
- There is no fee for this permit.
- Camping is prohibited within 100' of any trail, lake or stream. Group size is limited to 10 individuals (or 15 with people + stock).
- Campfires are permitted in the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness, with potential seasonal and location-specific restrictions. Campfires are not permitted above or within .25 miles (440 yards) of treeline, or within 100' of any trail, lake or stream.
- Contact the Aspen Ranger District (970.925.3445) or Sopris Ranger District (970.963.2266) for the latest weather, trail conditions and trail-specific guidelines when planning your trip.
- Fishing is permitted along Prince Creek and at Thomas Lakes with a valid Colorado fishing license.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness.
Directions to Trailhead
The Thomas Lakes Trailhead is located on Dinkle Lake Road, 10.8 miles from Highway 82 west of Carbondale.
From Highway 82 in Carbondale, travel 2.7 miles on Highway 133 to Prince Creek Road and turn left. Follow this 6.1 miles to a fork for West Sopris Creek Road - Dinkle Lake Road / Thomas Lakes and bear right. Continue 2.0 miles to the parking lot.
4WD is not necessary but High Clearance is recommended on Dinkle Lake Road.
Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness | Aspen Ranger District
806 West Hallam
Aspen, CO 81611
Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness | Sopris Ranger District
620 Main Street
Carbondale, CO 81623
White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602
970.945.2521 | 970.319.2670