Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sandbeach Lake.

This is an interesting and fun destination that is easily accessible from Wild Basin. The trail head starts immediately to the right of the kiosk where you check in for the day. I have some pictures shot at different times of the year to show the varying conditions you might find.
This is another trail that starts off steep right out of the parking lot as you start to climb Copeland Moraine. Breaks in the trees allow you to see right into the St. Vrain drainage, Copeland Lake, and look back at route seven.
My first attempt at this trail was in April, when by chance I had gotten several days off in a row. It had been dry and warmer, so I had some hopes for a nice hike. And then it rained for three of the four days, which at altitude fell as snow.
St. Vrain drainage in the spring snow.
As far as I went before my feet were wet and cold.
I headed back a few months later and was met with much different conditions.
Copeland Lake and rt 7.
St. Vrain drainage.
I just noticed this picture is taken from the same exact place as the snow one above!
Made it farther this time.
If I am remembering correctly, you actually hit a nice flat spot in the trail shortly after passing this sign. The next major landmark you'll come to is Campers Creek.
A small pond along the way.
Very reflective!
On the day that I did this hike, that was where I saw my first signs of snow.
Next you reach Hunters Creek. From this point on there was still significant snow pack (mid June 2011), though it is all melted now (mid August). I tried to take the small path up to Lyric Falls, but turned around due to snow and generally wet conditions.
The trail wasn't hard to follow, though I had never been to the lake before. It seems to be a pretty popular hike.
Nearing the lake!!!
Then I got there. How pretty.
Like alot of the higher lakes in RMNP, Sandbeach Lake was dammed to provide water for towns downstream in the early 1900s. The dam was removed in the late 1980s and the lake has returned to a more natural state. I thought the lake was pretty cool by itself and then I turned around and saw this...
Close up of Meeker literally dominating the view.
In panorama mode...
Trees on the south bank of the lake bent by years of wind.
Panorama from the south end of the lake. Meekerific!
It was funny at this point of the year I could see bare ground and two feet away in the shade see 10+ feet of snow. Pretty interesting. I hung out for a little, ate some food, and headed back down. I saw a few people on my way back, but not many.
On the way back I stopped at Hunters Creek to snap this picture...
This was not a long or particularly challenging hike, though I found it to be pretty enjoyable. There are some great views along the way, and the destination and its sights are more than worth the time spent getting up and back.
Sandbeach Lake via Sandbeach Lake trail head:
4.2 miles one way, 1943 foot gain. I'll give this a easy moderate rating.


  1. Hi Andy ! Have you ever crossed from Sanbeach lake to thunder lake trail split ? If yes have you written about it ? Thank you !

    1. I have not- it looks possible in places, but choosing a good route would be paramount for success. It looks like going up Mount Orton to North Ridge then dropping down to Lion Lakes area could work well, however, that side is also pretty cliffy and you could easily get into some very dangerous/high consequence terrain.
      I have started at Sandbeach Lake, went up Mt. Orton and continued to Chiefs Head, then down the west ridge to the continental divide, then east down the ridge between Alice and Chiefs Head and back on the Lion Lakes trail.