Hiking to Sandbeach Lake
On August 2nd I joined three women who I’d met through the Boulder Hiker Chicks, a local women’s hiking group, to go on a 9-mile hike to Sandbeach Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. While I enjoy solo hikes, as well as hikes with my husband, there is also something special, fun, and empowering about hiking with other women while pushing your hiking boundaries and trying new trails.
The lake used to be dammed to create a reservoir, but it was dismantled in 1988 by the National Park Service. The beach area shows how high the reservoir waters used to be.
You start at Sandbeach Lake Trailhead and climb approximately 2,000 ft to get to Sandbeach Lake, which is at an elevation of 10,313′. It is considered by multiple hiking websites and other resources as a strenuous hike.
The trail itself is a steady climb through the forest, with one patch were you can see some views of other mountains. There are also some areas with abundant wildflowers, and other areas with aspen groves.
After hiking 4.3 miles uphill, we were rewarded with the serene view of Sandbeach Lake. The large rounded mountain you see to the right is Copeland Mountain (13,176′) –
The waters were crystal clear. According to Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park: The Essential Guide by Erik Stensland, Sandbeach Lake is considered to be one of the deepest lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park.
While the views from the entrance are beautiful, some of the best views of the lake and its surroundings can be found if you follow the beach to the left from the entrance and continue along a trail through the bushes to a sand and rock outcropping near the middle of the lake. From there you get a wonderful view of Mt. Meeker (13,911′) and Pagoda Mountain (13,497′), as well as panoramic views of the whole lake.
My friends and I sat down here to enjoy the view while eating some snacks. It can get a bit windy up there, like many alpine lakes, so I’d recommend at least bringing a windbreaker or rain jacket.
View of the other side of the lake from the outcropping –
Mt. Meeker and Pagoda Mountain from closer on the beach –
The vegetation in the area is also stark and interesting –
There are several backpacking sites on the way up to Sandbeach Lake, as well as near the entrance to the lake from the trail. Backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park requires a permit.
Recommended as a Strenuous Hike
If you live in Colorado and want to spend some time by the beach, hiking up to Sandbeach Lake and relaxing by it’s crystal clear waters with Mt. Meeker in the background is a great option. The hike provides a good amount of exercise and you can enjoy the peaceful and interesting scenery.