Situated south of Carbondale, where the Crystal River meets the Roaring Fork River, is one of Colorado’s most majestic mountain. Despite it’s towering, wide silhouette, Mount Sopris tops out at just under 13,000 feet. Although relatively moderate 12-mile roundtrip run up Sopris takes a full day, so it's important to begin the journey early in the day.
What Makes It Great
From the lake, the trail begins by slowly climbing through open meadows and then become much steeper. After about two miles of hiking, the trail leads to Thomas Lakes. Just past the last lake, the trail ascends to into switchbacks. From the top of the switchbacks, you'll be atop the ridgeline which you will ascend all the way to Mount Sopris' summit.
Soon after the vegetation will thin about and you'll be running above treeline. Around 11,800 feet, the trail become incredibly steep and rocky and requires a bit of a scramble. You may think you're at the summit after the last harrowing ascent, but its in fact a false summit. You still have several hundred feet of elevation to gain to reach the actual summit. For the last couple of hundred feet the trail continues its climb along the ridge overlooking Thomas Lakes. You'll know you're at the summit when you see the memorial.
Who is Going to Love It
Experienced runners who are acclimated to the high elevation are best suited for this full day hike, considering the elevation gain and mileage.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From downtown Aspen, drive west on Highway 82 for about 25 miles to Highway 133, head south on Highway 133, through the town of Carbondale and at about 2.5 miles from the intersection and turn left on Prince Creek Road. Follow Prince Creek Road for about five miles or so (it turns to dirt around mile 1.5) until you come to a potentially confusing intersection. Keep right to follow the road to Dinkle Lake. The parking area for the trailhead for Mount Sopris is at Dinkle Lake.