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Towering nearly 7,000' above the Roaring Fork Valley, Mt. Sopris is one of CO's biggest and most awe-inspiring peaks.


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Map Key

13.4

Miles

21.5

KM

75%

Runnable

12,884' 3,927 m

High

8,655' 2,638 m

Low

4,228' 1,289 m

Up

4,228' 1,289 m

Down

12%

Avg Grade (7°)

66%

Max Grade (34°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Fishing · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

July and August pose the safest time to attempt Mount Sopris, though this area can be very nice in spring, summer and fall. Always be prepared for thunderstorms no matter the time of day... a warm, sunny day can change to life threatening weather in a matter of minutes.

Overview

Mount Sopris rises spectacularly from the Roaring Fork Valley floor dominating every view from nearby Carbondale, CO.

Expect beautiful meadows teeming with wildflowers, open vistas and clear high-alpine lakes. This is one of Colorado's most sought after hikes.

Need to Know

There are designated camping areas at Thomas Lakes. All hikers are encouraged to carry out their human waste using WAG bags. Dogs are allowed but they must be ON LEASH AT ALL TIMES.

Description

Easily accessed from Dinkle Lake Rd. off of Prince Creek Rd., the trail starts at the Thomas Lakes/Hay Park trailhead. From the trailhead look for the well-signed Hay Park Trail/Thomas Lakes Trail - take this heading south.

Hay Park Trail/Thomas Lakes Trail follows primitive doubletrack as it winds and switchbacks through the woods for 1.4 miles until it reaches an open meadow and starts countouring to the southeast. After 1/4 mile in the meadow the trail comes to a junction. Take a right to stay on the Thomas Lakes Trail and continue your climb upward.

After the trail split, Thomas Lakes Trail climbs through Aspen trees and open meadows for 2 miles. In this span, the trail crosses Prince Creek twice before finally reaching the lower Thomas Lake. From lower Thomas Lake, the trail ambles its way up to upper Thomas Lake and is called the Mount Sopris Trail. Take a few minutes to refuel at one, or both of the lakes and eye the Mt. Sopris summit.

From the lakes, the Mount Sopris trail switchbacks steeply to the ridge above. Once you finally gain the ridge you'll be able to spot some of the highest peaks in the Elk Range to the southeast. The skyline is dominated by the imposing north face of Capitol Peak (14,130'). The trail now quickly becomes talus, which proves to make route finding difficult. Continue to climb along the ridge and negotiate the large talus field. Keep your eye for sporadic cairns. You'll know you're off route if you stray too far north of the ridgeline (south is a precipitous drop-off).

Once the trail bears almost exactly due west, you'll be on the start of the summit ridge. Continue on Mount Sopris Trail and gain the false summit. If you look north, you'll see a massive scree field cascading below you - according to NOAA, this is actually one of the few mountains in North America with a Rock Glacier.

Once atop the first false summit, head toward a second false summit, traversing west along the ridge. Now the only thing left is to gain the actual summit! Continue to traverse west as the Mount Sopris Trail takes you along the ridge all the way to the true summit (12,965'). When you are finally at the tippy top congratulate yourself for a monumental effort, grab a selfie and a snack, and take in the awesome views... there isn't a better vantage point of the nearby Elk Mountains than this.

When you've had your fill of views, head down the mountain, exactly the way you came. Nice work!

Flora & Fauna

You'll find vast wildflowers featuring Rocky Mountain Columbine, Golden Banner, Indian Paintbrush, and Wild Iris from July-September. Keep an eye out for Pika and Marmot!

Contacts

Shared By:

Tom Robson with improvements by Kyle S

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 11 votes

#553

Overall
  5.0 from 11 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#118

in Colorado

#553

Overall
37 Views Last Month
18,999 Since Dec 14, 2014
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Photos

Carbondale runner, Elinor Fish, out for a sunrise cruise on the flanks of Mt Sopris.
Sep 30, 2015 near El Jebel, CO
View of the Elk Mountains from the summit of Mount Sopris.
Dec 15, 2014 near Carbondale, CO
One of the many open meadows on the Thomas Lakes Trail heading up to Mount Sopris.
Dec 15, 2014 near El Jebel, CO
Looking down the talus field to the Roaring Fork Valley on the Mount Sopris Trail.
Dec 15, 2014 near El Jebel, CO
View of the valley below near junction with Thomas Lake Trail.
Sep 10, 2020 near El Jebel, CO
This is off a little trail coming from campsite 11 if I remember correctly.
Oct 20, 2017 near El Jebel, CO
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Check-Ins

Sep 11, 2022
Joe Lewis
Awesome ascent! 13.4mi — 4h 28m
Sep 19, 2021
Chris Leonetti
Classic!
Aug 10, 2019
Max Krapff
Jun 24, 2017
Anthony Carroll
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