Definitely a good decision!
A national forest ranger in Carbondale suggested this hike to us, but advised that it is heavily trafficked. And when we showed up at the trailhead, the parking lot was nearly full. Drat! We generally prefer a "quieter" hike. We had heard, however, that the second lake is especially beautiful and the views of Mount Sopris are spectacular. So, despite concerns about a crowded trail, we headed out.
The trail itself is very easy to follow. In fact, it starts out as, I presume, an old jeep trail and gradually narrows down to the width of, say, an ATV trail. So, hiking side-by-side with a partner is doable for the first half of the hike. Eventually, the trail narrows down to single-track, weaving in and out of meadows and stands of aspen. Most of the hike is a gradual climb (no switchbacks at all), but there are a few steeper sections that'll get your heart pumping.
Finally we came to the first of the two Thomas Lakes. To us, it didn't look all that interesting so we pushed on to the second one. Definitely a good decision! We were pleasantly surprised to see only one other couple at the lake. To give them some space we hiked in a counter-clockwise direction around the lake in search of a spot for lunch. We had to pick our way through some brush and over a talus field, but we quickly found a perfect place to put up our feet. The lake was, in fact, beautiful and the views of Mount Sopris were, as promised, spectacular.
All in all, we counted only 13 folks on the trail that day and would highly recommend this hike to others.
Note to peak-baggers and backpackers...There are 13 first-come, first-served campsites near the second lake. Evidently, these sites are often used by hikers that are wanting to summit Mount Sopris.
Note to dog-owners...This is black bear country. As such, all dogs must be on a leash at all times.
Check out the Official Route and Triplog.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.