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944 Sandbeach Lake 2014-07-20

Sandbeach Lake with Mount Copeland in the background

After a week stay in the Tetons, we moved south again to Estes Park, CO and Rocky Mountain National Park. We had a great time in the Tetons but we still had things to do in Rocky Mountain.

We completed the Wild Basin map and some of the guides on cloudhiking.com in the Spring ('14) but we still had a few questions. (link to the guide) We would have to hike the trail again to make sure the map portrayed the geography correctly and to get a few more pictures of the lake. (Well at least that was our excuse - Sandbeach Lake is a great destination.)

Leaving the trailhead we climbed steadily to the top of the lateral moraine. We stopped for a brief rest on top of a rock outcropping next to the trail. While stopped two members of the trail crew hustled up the trail. They were discussing their time to the work area, we were sure that it was faster than we walked!

Hole in the Wall backcountry campsite sign

We continued toward the lake, but along the way, we stopped at each of the backcountry sites. None of the sites were occupied. On the map we had just placed the camping icon at the trail junction and not at the actual sites. Finding the exact location of the campsites was one of our objectives.

After crossing Campers Creek we climbed along a ridge and then rolled along the dips and rises until we came to a small pond. This was one of the points of confusion. If the small pond just off the trail was the same that was on Hunters Creek, then the location of the trail or the pond was wrong. On closer inspection, the pond next to the trail was filled by a marshy drainage, not Hunters Creek. The small pond was not even on the map. Ha!

The bridge over Hunters Creek had been replaced, even though the "bridge out" signs were still in place!

New footbridge over Hunters Creek

The final climb to the lake is steep. We moved steadily and soon were on the shores. At the lake we checked out all of the camp sites and took pictures of the lake and scenery.

Oddly enough, the sign for the privy at the lake was missing. We had walked to every site and nothing indicated where the privy was. As we were leaving the area, we took a path we had seen when we arrived at the lake, but passed. Sure enough, it led to the privy.

On the hike down we met many hikers and backpackers. None of the backpackers looked happy. They were all carrying large, heavy looking packs and all seemed to be suffering from the weight.

When we reached the trail crew, they were hard at work adding a set of steps to the trail. The National Park Service employee, who seemed to be the crew leader, announced to the crew that hikers were approaching. The crew stopped their work and stood to the side of the trail, taking a much deserved rest. Seeing that the crew got a rest when we past, I asked - do you want us to come back in a few minutes and pass through again (giving the crew another rest)? We all laughed.

Sandbeach Lake looking toward Mount Pagoda

Sandbeach Lake is a great hike. The upper section of the trail is a bit stiff, but not terribly long. We enjoyed our hike (as well as the others we have made to the lake in the past), but we were just carrying day packs! Our trip was successful and the map was fine. We just needed to check. : - )

Oh, our favorite campsites were the Hole in the Wall site and the ones by the lake.


Happy Sandbeach Lake trails


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