Lead King Basin  
Maps:        
USGS 7.5' Map: Marble, Snowmass Moutain
Statistics:
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Moderate 5 FR315, 315.2, 315.2L 9.38 8,680 to 10,920 ft. Rocky Hill, Ledge Road 2-3 hours
County: Gunnison
Adopted by:      
Managed by: White River National Forest, Sopris Ranger District 620 Main Street, Carbondale, CO 81623 970-963-2266
Summary: Lead King Basin road is a nice high altitude loop around the north side of Sheep Mountain. It crosses through Lead King Basin, which was mined to some extent.
Attractions: Scenic views along Lost Trail Creek. Mining history and ghost towns.
Seasonal
Closure:
Agency - FR315 November 23 to May 20
Best Time: June - Only FR314 might be open
July - Snow may still block sections
August - Best
September - Best
October - Be aware of early season snows
Trail Heads
Accessed:
North Lost, FT1967 - Hiking, Equestrian
Arkansas Mountain, FT1965 - Hiking, Equestrian
Geneva Lake, FT1973 - Hiking, Equestrian
North Fork Crystal River, FT1974 - Hiking, Equestrian
Avalanche/Silver Creek, FT1959 - Hiking, Equestrian
Camping: Dispersed camp sites are at the east end of the road around Lead King Basin. A few are lower by the North Fork of the Crystal River, and a few more are higher up above the switchbacks.
Base Camp: This area would be a great place to base camp. There are a lot of ghost towns and mining history along the network of 4WD roads. Fuel is further away in Carbondale and Paonia.
Fall Colors: Very Good - In the area around Marble and at the east end around Lead King Basin there are large stands of aspen trees.
Navigation: From Carbondale, CO. head southeast on Colorado 133 South toward Garfield Ave. Go 21.5 miles and turn left onto County Rd 3. Go 2.8 miles and continue straight to stay on County Rd 3. Go 2.8 mile and continue onto Park Street. Go 0.4 miles and turn left onto West 3rd Street. Go 0.1 miles and take the first right onto West Main Street. Go 0.3 miles and take the third left onto East 2nd Street. Go 312 feet and take the first right onto East Silver Street. Go 0.1 miles and continue onto County Rd 3. Go 1.5 miles and turn left onto Lost Trail Road (FR 315) the Lead King Basin 4WD road.

From Carbondale, CO. head southeast on Colorado 133 South toward Garfield Ave. Go 21.5 miles and turn left onto County Rd 3. Go 2.8 miles and continue straight to stay on County Rd 3. Go 2.8 mile and continue onto Park Street. Go 0.4 miles and turn left onto West 3rd Street. Go 0.1 miles and take the first right onto West Main Street. Go 0.3 miles and take the third left onto East 2nd Street. Go 312 feet and take the first right onto East Silver Street. Go 0.1 miles and continue onto County Rd 3. Go 1.5 miles to an intersection, turning right to stay on County Rd 3 and go 4.4 miles through the town of Crystal to an intersection. Take the left to start the Lead King Basin 4WD road, FR315.
History: During the early 1870's the Utes controlled the Crystal River area as part of the Ute Reservation. In 1873-1874 Dr. V. F. Hayden received immunity from Chief Ouray to continue his geologic surveys through the Crystal River Valley.
After the massacre of agent Nathan Meeker and seven employees at the White River agency in northwestern Colorado on September 9, 1879, and the near total loss of Major T. T. Thornburgh's relief force of 150 men, the Ute Indians were removed from their Colorado reservation to the desert Uintah reservation in northwestern Utah. One year after the removal of the Utes the federal government opened the Colorado reservation to settlement.

In 1902 the Lead King Mine was disocovered. The mine mainly produced lead and silver ore. During 1912 and 1930 the Lead King mine was under lease to Walter Brace. He shipped 530 tons of ore that contained mainly zinc. In 1917 some of the mines dump material was milled. The concentrate was not shipped to the United States Smelting and Refining Co. in Salt Lake City until 1929. Again, the concentrate produced mainly zinc, with some silver and lead.

In 1930 Carvel McWilliams was elected Mayor of Marble. He was a graduate of Gunnison High School and the towns people had hopes of fostering a better relationship between Gunnison and Marble. In April McWilliams went to Gunnison and presented a proposal to replace the old wagon road over Schofield Pass with a road three miles to the north crossing the headwaters of Silver Creek above the Lead King mine to the Commissioners. They favored the idea and passed a resolution recommending the extension to the State Highway Commission.

Vandenbusche, Duane and Myers, Rex. Marble Colorado - City of Stone Denver, Colorado: Golden Bell Press, 1970. Print.
Vanderwilt, John W. Geology and Minteral Deposites of the Snowmass Mountain Area Gunnison County, Colorado United States Dept. of the Interior, Bulletin 884-886, 1935. Print.
Description:
Lead King Basin is a side loop off of the Schofield Pass road, FR317, that goes around the north side of Sheep Mountain. Starting from the intersection on County Road 3 east of Marble, take the left, FR315, up hill, to start the Lead King Basin road (Lost Trail Road). The right is the Schofield Pass road and will head down hill and cross Lost Trail Creek. Just after taking the left you will pass the Colorado Outward Bound School.

From here the road will become more of a two track. You will cross the North Fork Lost Trail Creek and continue to follow along Lost Trail Creek. To the north is Arkansas Mountain, to the south, Sheep Mountain.
Lead King Basin road, start

photo by:
Adam M

The road will cross Lost Trail Creek and shortly come to an intersection. The right, Sheep Mountain FR315.2, will head into the forest and do a series of switchbacks as it climbs the north side of Sheep Mountain. The road will finally come out of the trees at the edge of steep drop off, the south face of Sheep Mountain. Below is the Crystal River and the town of Crystal. The Left will continue along the south side of the creek coming into a more open area before crossing the creek again and climbing up six switchbacks.
Lead King Basin road

photo by:
Adam M

After the switchbacks you will be at timberline with some sweeping views to the south. These high alpine meadows are usually filled with wildflowers during the summer, August being the best time. This upper section of the Lead King Basin Road is in softer shale that becomes very slick when wet. With the narrowness of the road, this section should not be traveled during or after a heavy rain storm.
Lead King Basin road

photo by:
Adam M

Next the road will head north up a short gulch to cross its headwaters and then turn south again to contiues along the side of Meadow Mountain. As the road sweeps to the north again you will be above Lead King Basin. The narrow two track will start down seven switchbacks on its way down to the North Fork of the Crystal River. You will be on private property as you cross the river on an old bridge, use caution. On the other side of the river you will come to an intersection. The left, FR315.2L, will head up the basin and dead end. The right will continue on down the valley following the river. Above the town of Crystal, you will come to another intersection. From here, continuing will take you to Schofield Pass, heading down to the right will take you to Crystal and back to Marble.
Data updated - December 24, 2018      4WD Road driven - August 12, 1999      Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2018