Rocky Mountain National Park: Sandbeach Lake Loop

Follow this 9.9-mile loop through vibrant wildflower displays and past snow-fed streams to a huge alpine lake with unbeatable campsite views of Mount Meeker.
Avatar:
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
1
Follow this 9.9-mile loop through vibrant wildflower displays and past snow-fed streams to a huge alpine lake with unbeatable campsite views of Mount Meeker.

INFO For information on permits, current trail and camp conditions, and wilderness guidelines, go to nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm

PERMIT A wilderness permit is required for all overnight camping in the backcountry. Reservations accepted ($20 administrative fee for permits during peak season). nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backcntry_guide.htm

CONTACT Rocky Mountain National Park, (970) 586-1206; nps.gov/romo

-Mapped by Kris Wagner

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 16.0

Waypoints

SBL001

Location: 40.219849, -105.534515

Trail climbs from north side of lot into evergreen forest; go straight at 4-way to Copeland Lake.

SBL002

Location: 40.219917, -105.547737

Ascend along sidehill to overlook with view of Copeland Lake and the liquid braids of North St. Vrain Creek.

SBL003

Location: 40.217133, -105.553268

Veer left at Y-junction.

SBL004

Location: 40.216366, -105.561363

Pass a handful of designated campsites along Campers Creek.

SBL005

Location: 40.218918, -105.587547

Trout run the swift current of Hunters Creek. Cross bridge and continue ascent. Optional spur: Follow faint trail .7 mile upstream to Lyric Falls.

SBL006

Location: 40.219345, -105.601601

Sandy beach with 5-star campsites (permit required). Add a day: Climb southwest ridge to Mt. Meeker, the park's 2nd highest peak; return to camp.

SBL007

Location: 40.216301, -105.601852

Leave Sandbeach Lake. Begin a moderate bushwhack from the headwaters of Sandbeach Creek.

SBL008

Location: 40.211517, -105.602402

Creek drops into a marshy field. Swing left around a teardrop pond; pick up creek again.

SBL009

Location: 40.206299, -105.584953

Caution: On this sharp descent, you'll scramble over a boulder field covered in chartreuse lichen. Pink cliffs peek out of the woods ahead.

SBL010

Location: 40.203068, -105.581902

Wildflowers bloom in sunny spot. Cross the old trail rut for Thunder Lake Trail.

SBL011

Location: 40.201584, -105.581802

End of bushwhack. Turn left onto Wild Basin Trail.

SBL012

Location: 40.203617, -105.573387

Swing onto frontage trail to Upper and Lower Copeland Falls.

SBL013

Location: 40.207516, -105.566681

Pass Wild Basin parking lot; trail parallels forest road and North St. Vrain Creek.

SBL014

Location: 40.218449, -105.535316

Turn left at the main road; follow .2 mile back to trailhead.

Shores of Sandbeach Lake

Location: 40.218914, -105.601143

Caitlin and Andrew hike the E edge of Sandbeach Lake. © Kris Wagner

Meeker Skyline

Location: 40.219006, -105.601227

Mount Meeker looms over Sandbeach Lake. It's a good, long hike from here to the peak. © Kris Wagner

Discovering a lost trail

Location: 40.215599, -105.601585

Caitlin marks a waypoint along the off-trail section of this loop. In some areas, there's a faint user path and overall this route is easy to navigate. © Kris Wagner

Upper Copeland Falls

Location: 40.203953, -105.572922

Upper Copeland Falls shoots out a large rooster tail of swift water. © Kris Wagner

Navigating the boulder field

Location: 40.207088, -105.585197

Stay far L of the creek to avoid a steep gorge, and cross over this large marbleyard of boulders. © Kris Wagner