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 - 8.8 Miles Round-Trip
Sandbeach Lake (10,283’) is located 4.4 miles from the Wild Basin Entrance Station in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s one of the Park’s deepest lakes at nearly 50', and aptly named for its wide, sandy shore. Sandbeach Lake is ringed by gnarled limber pine in a broad flat free of confining valley walls, and its open perimeter gives the area a uniquely spacious feel.
In 1988 the Park removed earth dams on the lake's outlet, replacing it with willow and brush to create spawning habitat for greenback cutthroat trout. A small but stable breeding population exists today.
Good fishing and a beach-like setting make this a desirable overnight destination. The basin is susceptible to strong winds and cooler temperatures, as the presence of bristlecone pine might suggest. Aspen and leafy ground cover line much of the trail, and 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 (3.5 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 follow Sandbeach Lake's open east shore, with terrific views of Mt Meeker (13,911') and easy lake access.
Limber pine trees ring the lake, which use a long tap root to anchor against strong winds that prevail through the basin. Limber pines are distinguished by their diminutive height and oft-twisted trunks, which provide stability and facilitate nutrient flow. Limber pine grow slowly and compete ineffectively with other trees, which is why you'll often find them in locations where other species are not.
- N40 13.189 W105 32.058 — 0.0 miles : Sandbeach Lake Trailhead
- N40 13.295 W105 32.389 — .5 miles : Steady climb through ponderosa stands
- N40 13.146 W105 32.879 — 1.0 miles : Level across steep slope
- N40 13.032 W105 33.203 — 1.35 miles : Meeker Park Trail split
- N40 12.977 W105 33.692 — 1.85 miles : Hole-in-the-Wall backcountry campsite
- N40 12.986 W105 33.916 — 2.05 miles : Campers Creek backcountry campsite
- N40 13.073 W105 34.380 — 2.5 miles : Cross small footbridge
- N40 12.978 W105 34.759 — 3.0 miles : Beaver Mill backcountry campsite
- N40 13.023 W105 35.011 — 3.2 miles : Hunters Creek backcountry campsite
- N40 13.139 W105 35.256 — 3.5 miles : Cross Hunters Creek on double footbridge
- N40 13.341 W105 35.851 — 4.1 miles : Steep climb levels out
- N40 13.241 W105 36.074 — 4.4 miles : Sandbeach Lake
- Mt Meeker (13,911') stands prominently over Sandbeach Lake's north shore, and Mt Orton (11,274') frames the west shore.
- Limber Pine Trees ring the lake's exposed, blustery shore.
- 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.
Camping and Backpacking Information
Backcountry Campsites for Sandbeach Lake:
Permits are required for all overnight stays. Campfires 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 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.
Campers Creek Backcountry Campsite
- 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.
Beaver Mill Backcountry Campsite
- The Beaver Mill site is located 3 miles from the Sandbeach Lake Trailhead at 9,640'. There's 1 individual site approximately .5 miles past the Campers Creek bridge in a lodgepole-aspen forest south of the trail. Water is available from Hunters Creek, about 45 yards south of the site.
Hunters Creek Backcountry Campsite
- 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
Sandbeach Lake Backcountry Campsites
- 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 the lake. 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 lake, inlet and outlet.
- Fishing is permitted at Sandbeach Lake with a valid Colorado fishing license. There are Greenback Cutthroat Trout in the lake and strict method-of-capture and catch and release rules apply.
- Fishing is not permitted along Hunter's Creek between the Wild Basin Entrance Station and Sandbeach Lake. These waters are part of a native Greenback Cutthroat Trout restoration program. Fish re-introduced to these waters are small and it will take several years for a viable breeding population to become established. Greenback Cutthroat are on the Federal Threatened Species List.
- Visit the Rocky Mountain National Park Fishing Guidelines Page for more information.
Rules and Regulations
- A $20 Day Use Fee is required to enter Rocky Mountain National Park (or $30 for a 7 Day Pass).
- Dogs are not permitted on hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Directions to Trailhead
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