Redstone / Carbondale
February 11, 2004
(B, H) This scenic trail provides access to the beautiful Avalanche Creek Valley and the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. Making the whole trip to Avalanche Lake, near Capitol Peak, is best done as an overnighter. There are fine camping spots all along the route. For a good day hike, take the trail as far as Hell Roaring Creek (2 miles in) or to the meadow of Duley Park (5 miles). To reach the trailhead, take Highway 133 south from Carbondale for 12.5 miles; turn left off 133 onto Forest Road 310 and follow signs for Avalanche Campground. Cross the bridge over the Crystal River and follow a gravel road 2.5 miles to the Avalanche Campground. Up to 22 miles roundtrip.
(H) This lesser-known trail offers stellar wildflower viewing and great views of the Ragged Mountains. From Carbondale (or Redstone) travel south on Highway 133 for 22 miles to the Marble turnoff. Drive east on the Marble road (County Road 3) and park behind the Beaver Lake Lodge, where you’ll find the trailhead. The first 1.5 miles travel through private property to a stream crossing, so stay on the trail. After this point, the trail gets steeper for a half mile, then levels out to a more moderate climb until just before Avalanche Pass. At the crossing, the trail makes a sharp turn to the right and goes uphill before a second, smaller stream. After the pass, the trail descends steeply to the Arkansas Mountain Trail, which hooks back into the Carbonate route about a mile from the trailhead. 7 miles total.
(B, H) The popular Hay Park Trail skirts the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness and weaves around the base of Mount Sopris. Most people use this trail as an out-and-back to Hay Park (a large meadow), but it does go as far as Capitol Creek Road, giving bikers the possibility of a loop. It’s a relatively easy hike; the first mile is a good climb for bikers. After passing through Hay Park, the trail turns into single track and the biking becomes more technical. From Carbondale, take Highway 133 south for about 1.4 miles . Make a left on Prince Creek Road and follow it for about six miles. When the road forks, take the right fork and drive another two miles, following the signs for Dinkle Lake. Park across from the Thomas Lakes trailhead (an obvious, large pullout on the left). Begin hiking or biking on the Thomas Lakes Trail. After 1.5 miles, you’ll reach the intersection with the actual Hay Park trail. From here it’s another 3 miles to the meadow of Hay Park. 9 miles roundtrip to Hay Park.
(B, H) This is a wonderful, historic route for mountain biking; you can also hike it, though the route follows a four-wheel-drive road the entire way. From Carbondale travel south on Highway 133 for 22 miles to the Marble turnoff. Drive east on the Marble road (County Road 3), through the small town, until you see the four-wheel-drive recommended sign. Park there unless you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle; if you do, drive to the top of the first hill, where there’s a junction and a small parking area. At the junction, most people continue straight to Crystal City, a former mining town where only a few cabins now remain. The historic Crystal Mill can be seen just before entering town. After town, the road becomes more primitive. After climbing the first hill, you’ll come to a junction. Go left (the right fork leads over Schofield Pass toward Crested Butte). From here it’s about 10 miles back to Marble, through some outrageous scenery – waterfalls, wildflowers and high, snow-capped ridges. 14.5 miles total.
(B) Drive south out of town on Highway 133 for 1.4 miles and turn left on Prince Creek Road. You’ll follow paved roads past ranchlands with amazing views of Mount Sopris. Most people drive to the end of the pavement and start riding from there. Porcupine Loop is the closest and shortest trail, as well as the most fun and a good introduction to actual mountain biking. It crosses a steep hillside on an abandoned irrigation ditch, which means it’s flat and has banked sides. It’s not on most maps so ask at one of the bike stores in town for exact location. The Crown Trail can be accessed from Porcupine Loop or at the first switchback after you go over the top of the main road. It climbs the Crown, which is the high ground to the north of Prince Creek Road, and has a 360-degree, panoramic view worth writing home about. Mileages vary.
(B, H) This area of Bureau of Land Management terrain, located north of Carbondale, is being discovered by more and more locals. The views of town, Mount Sopris and the Crystal and Roaring Fork valleys are breathtaking, especially when you sit on overhanging Mushroom Rock. The Three Gulch Trail begins at County Road 107 and climbs through the pinyon and juniper forest, with frequent and spectacular views of Sopris. The Heller Trail can be reached .25 mile north of the Highway 82/133 intersection. It’s a former jeep road now blocked by boulders just above two pullouts. The quick 800-foot elevation gain isn’t too bad for hikers, but is especially demanding for mountain bikers. Count on an hour or two to bike the whole loop.
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(B, H) This is one of the most popular mountain bike routes in the area, going from Carbondale to Redstone. You can travel in either direction, but if you start at the Redstone end you’ll get most of your climbing out of the way early on. From Redstone, turn south on Highway 133 and take a right at the end of the coke ovens that line the highway. About three miles up, just past the third cattle guard, you’ll reach a trailhead on the right for the Braderich Creek Trail. The first part of the trail is tricky on a mountain bike – steep switchbacks and loose gravel. It’s about three miles to the top, through open meadows and aspen groves. After that, it’s mostly downhill, but there are still a few good climbs left. Bikers can tie in with the Perham Creek Trail at Willow Park to make a loop back to Redstone (this also requires riding on Highway 133) or go all the way to Spring Gulch, just north of Carbondale. A car shuttle is best for this latter option. Inquire at a local bike shop for more specifics on the longer routes. About 14 miles roundtrip to Willow Park on the Braderich Creek Trail.
(H) This trail is well maintained, but it does get heavily used. The two namesake lakes, at the base of Mount Sopris, are about one-quarter mile apart, with lots of designated camping. The hike is beautiful, lined with wildflowers and scenic overlooks. Follow the directions in the Hay Park description above to reach the trailhead. Those bound to summit 12,953-foot Mount Sopris often overnight at Thomas Lakes before climbing the peak. 7 miles roundtrip.