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430 Sandbeach Lake 2011-07-05

Sanddbeach Lake

After hiking the Hollowell Park Trail, I wentthe next day to Sandbeach Lake Trailhead in the Wild Basin Area of Rocky Mountain National Park. A few years back I had hiked the trail with my wife and some friends and was somewhat familiar with the area.

In the parking area of the trailhead, two hikers were getting ready for an overnight trip as I was packing my daypack. In the Park food must be stored in bear canisters for all backcountry camping below treeline. The overnight hikers had their bear-proof container in the midst of their gear. Seeing the container I started a conversation. We have a container; but have never used it. In the east, hanging food is generally sufficient enough means to thwart the bruins. I thought I would ask the hikers for some tips.

After a few questions, I asked the one I was most concerned about - what do you do with your used toilet paper? Do you have to put it in the container with your food?

One of the hikers immediately said, "use a stick or a stone and you don't have any used toilet paper!"

We joked around for a few minutes and I commented that I had used snow, but I didn't know about the rocks and sticks. Evidently, the rocks and sticks in Colorado must be much softer than those found in Tennessee.

The hike to Sandbeach Lake begins by climbing a hill. At the first switchback, though, the trail then begins a long easy traverse to the top of a moraine (like a ridge). After a junction at 1.3 miles, the trail eases and rolls along on the top of the ridge. Soon the trail passes under towers of rocks and then alongside Campers Creek.

The trail crosses the creek and climbs to the next drainage, Hunters Creek. Due to the rain and snow melt, Hunters Creek was roaring. After crossing the creek, the trail climbs at a steeper rate to Sandbeach Lake. On my hike, snow still lingered from the late spring snows and made the trail wet and and at times difficult to follow.

The lake is a great destination. Views of the mountain surrounding the lake included Mount Meeker, a peek at Longs, Mount Pagoda, Mount Orton, and the other Wild Basin peaks.

There is a privy at the lake but it was buried in the snow - only the sign pointed to it's location.


privy sign in snow


On my return hike I met the overnight hikers I had met in the parking area. I was quick to let them know, that there was plenty of snow at the lake so they would not have to use rocks or sticks. Looking at the size of their humongous packs, I began to wonder what they were bringing on their trip. I had trouble believing that they didn't have toilet paper stashed in some corner of their bulging packs.

A few Sandbeach Lake trail notes...

There was water and restrooms at the trailhead.

The trailhead is located to the right of the entrance booth.

To the Lake and back was almost 9 miles.

The trail was in good shape except for the snow runoff. At times it was like walking through a stream.

There are four designated campsites along the trail and the one at the lake.

Most of the hikers I met had fishing gear with them.

Nobody was sunbathing on the beach.

Happy Sandbeach Lakes.


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