Sandbeach Lake, Wild Basin - Sandbeach Lake Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Sandbeach Lake - 8.8 Miles
Wild Basin - Sandbeach Lake Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||8.8 Miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||8,312' - 10,283' (10,317' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,971' net elevation gain (+2,146' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Sandbeach Lake - one of Rocky Mountain's deepest at nearly 50' - is aptly named for its wide, sandy shore. Unlike most lakes in Wild Basin that reside in narrow alpine valleys, Sandbeach Lake lies on a broad flat free of confining valley walls. Its open perimeter invites exploration, and gives the area a uniquely spacious feel.
In 1988 the Park removed earth dams on Sandbeach Lake's outlet, replacing them with willows and brush to create spawning habitat for greenback cutthroat trout. A small but stable breeding population exists today.
Good fishing and a beach-like feel make this a desirable overnight destination, highlighted by ubiquitous aspen and leafy ground cover that produce brilliant fall colors:
The trail rises quickly over North St Vrain Creek through ponderosa, lodgepole and aspen to the Meeker Park Trail split (1.35 miles : 8,990'). Below to the north is Copeland Moraine - take a few steps along the Meeker Park Trail for a closer look.
The trail continues west on a mild but rocky grade lined by aspen and thick ground cover. Campers Creek is occasionally audible but seldom visible as you pass spurs for the Hole-in-the-Wall and Campers Creek backcountry campsites (1.88 miles : 9,172' and 2.1 miles : 9,265', respectively).
The rugged trail crosses a small creek (2.55 miles : 9,543') and continues steeply to the Beaver Mill backcountry campsite (3.0 miles : 9,680').
It levels momentarily near the Hunters Creek backcountry campsite (3.25 miles : 9,746'), crosses Hunters Creek (3.55 miles : 9,840') on a footbridge and begins a rocky, 443' climb to the north shore of Sandbeach Lake (4.4 miles : 10,283').
Social trails circle Sandbeach Lake's long, open shoreline; clockwise travel offers terrific views of Mt Meeker (13,911') and easier lake access.
Note krummholz and limber pine in the vicinity - neither are very common at this elevation, however exposure in the capacious basin creates hostile growing conditions similar to higher subalpine environments where they're typically found.
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- N40 13.250 W105 36.080 — Sandbeach Lake
- Mt Meeker (13,911') stands over Sandbeach Lake's north shore, and Mt Orton (11,274') can be seen from Sandbeach Lake's north and east shores.
- Take note of krummholz and limber pine around the lake's exposed, blustery shore. This is more typical of the subalpine transition zone found 1,000' higher.
- At nearly 50', Sandbeach Lake is thought to be one of Rocky Mountain National Park's deepest . Big Crystal Lake, accessible from the Lawn Lake Trailhead, is of comparable depth.
- This is arguably the Wild Basin Area's finest autumn hike.
Camping and Backpacking Information
Backcountry Campsites for Sandbeach Lake:
Permits are required for all overnight stays. Fires are not permitted within Rocky Mountain National Park. Camp safely away from dead trees, as close as possible to the silver metal arrowhead posted at each site. Red arrowheads on trees provide additional guidance to each campsite from the main trail:
- Hole In The Wall Backcountry Campsite
- The Hole In The Wall site is located 1.9 miles from the Sandbeach Lake Trailhead at 9,240'. There's 1 individual site in a heavy lodgepole forest south of the trail and Campers Creek. Water is available from Campers creek.
- The Campers Creek site is located 2.3 miles from the Sandbeach Lake Trailhead at 9,600'. There's 1 individual site in a heavy spruce-fir forest south of the trail and Campers Creek. Water is available from Campers creek.
- The Beaver Mill site is located 3 miles from the Sandbeach Lake Trailhead at 9,640'. There's 1 individual site located approximately .5 miles past the Campers Creek bridge crossing in a lodgepole -aspen forest south of the trail. Water is available from Hunters Creek, about 45 yards south of the site.
- The Hunters Creek site is located 3.3 miles from the Sandbeach Lake Trailhead at 9,760'. There's 1 individual site in a thick spruce-fir forest south of the trail. Water is available from Hunters Creek
- The Sandbeach Lake sites are located 4.3 miles from the Sandbeach Lake Trailhead at 10,283'. There are 4 individual sites, 1 group site, and a privy on the east side of Sandbeach Lake. A privy is available. individual sites are located south of the privy, and the group site is located west of the hitchrack behind a large boulder. Water is available from the inlet stream on the west side of the lake.
Campers Creek Backcountry Campsite
Beaver Mill Backcountry Campsite
Hunters Creek Backcountry Campsite
Sandbeach Lake Backcountry Campsites
Sandbeach Lake is accessible from the Sandbeach Lake Trailhead, immediately adjacent to the Wild Basin Entrance Station in the southeast region of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Directions to Trailhead
From Boulder, take Highway 36 north 14 miles to the town of Lyons. Remain on 36 to the Highway 7 intersection. Turn left onto Highway 7 towards Allenspark. Remain on Highway 7 and look for the Wild Basin Trailhead Entrance on the left (approximately 37 miles from Boulder). Turn left on the dirt road to the entrance station .15 miles ahead. The trailhead and parking area are just past the entrance station on your right.
Rocky Mountain National Park
1000 Highway 36
Estes Park, CO 80517-8397