Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
1,273.00 ft (388.01 m)
Trail type
8.50 mi (13.68 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The hike to Thomas Lakes is a fun, non-technical hike with fantastic views of Mt. Sopris, the aesthetic 12,965-foot twin-summit mountain that dominates the landscape in the Carbondale, CO area. The three lakes are each quite beautiful, and offer about a dozen campsites close by.

The trail begins on Dinkle Road, a very rough 2-mile gravel road that is better classified as a very wide trail. 4WD is almost definitely necessary on this road, and high ground clearance is a necessity. The trail begins in a grassy field opposite the parking lot, which has space for several dozen cars. The trail begins with a steady moderate grade along a wide path with lots of loose gravel for 1.4 miles, before emerging into another grassy field. In the summer, this entire area is used for grazing livestock, so be prepared to encounter cows on your hike. Though not generally aggressive, it’s best to give them space, announce your presence, and gently urge them off the trail if they block your way!

At 1.8 miles, the Hay Park trail splits off to the left. The route to Thomas Lakes continues straight/right. A short climb later, at 2.1 miles, a phenomenal view of Mt. Sopris emerges over the aspen forest. The trail enters the forest and climbs gently for another 1.7 miles before reaching the first of the Thomas Lakes on the right. The first campsites are near this lake, and the views of Mt. Sopris reflected in the lake from here are beautiful.

The trail continues approximately another 0.4 miles before reaching the second lake. This lake is on the left, opposite Mt. Sopris. Although there are no great views of this lake from the trail, walking along the shoreline clockwise offers an excellent vantage point to view Mt. Sopris reflected in the second lake. Be sure to tread carefully as there is no official trail along the shoreline, although several social trails lead from the main trail to the lake.

There is a third lake in the Thomas Lakes, lying directly west of the second lake. This lake is not reachable by the main trail, but it can be reached by following one of the trails to the campsites on the north side of the main trail.

From Thomas Lakes, experienced hikers can continue up to Mt. Sopris via the Mt. Sopris Trail, which climbs another 2,600 feet over 2.5 miles to the summit. The route is very exposed and steep, but offers excellent views of the surrounding peaks. The route returns from Thomas Lakes via the same trail.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Beautiful views. Excellent camping.


Difficult road. Livestock in area.

Trailhead Elevation

8,642.00 ft (2,634.08 m)

Highest point

10,272.00 ft (3,130.91 m)


Big vistas
Geologically significant
Near lake or river
Backcountry camping

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping


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