Molly Y.
Bloomington, MN
Joined August 2018
Great Spot for a Rocky Mountain Tan

Sandbeach Lake Trail is in Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail is approximately 8.7 miles roundtrip. The trailhead is in the Wild Basin area. The hike in is mainly uphill and it very rocky (loose baseball size rocks at times). 

There are 4 backcountry campsites at Sandbeach Lake. We camped at the final backcountry site (you just follow the path alongside the lake to the left when you arrive).

The sandy beach is amazing! We were able to spend the day sunbathing, swimming, and taking in the beautiful views. (Fishing is not allowed here)

There is a creek that flows into Sandbeach Lake. You go to the right when you arrive to find this. We were able to fill up on water at the creek (just remember to treat your water!).

Quick Hike to Camp

We hiked to Goblin's Forest Campground from the Longs Peak Trailhead. This is a quick, uphill hike that is approximately 1.2 miles.

The campground has 6 backcountry camping sites and 1 latrine. The latrine is the first thing you see when hiking into the campsites. The campsites are fairly close to each other. We were able to see 2 other sites from ours. All of the campsites do have flat space for tents.

Unfortunately, we ran into some bad weather (downpour, hail, thunder, lightning) but we were able to get our tent up in time, so the card games began!

We had a fun time camping, but I would have liked this campground more if the campsites were more dispersed and private.

First to Review
Enjoyable Hike to a Peaceful Campsite

We began our backpacking trip at Bear Lake Trailhead. From here we hiked to Odessa Lake where we stayed overnight. The next day we took the Fern Lake Trail to Fern Lake Trailhead. Once we got there we were able to take the free shuttle back to our car at Bear Lake Trailhead.

The hike to Odessa Lake was beautiful with a variety of terrain, which was fun. Even in August there was snow covering the trail. We lucked out with the weather. It didn't rain and at the temperatures were comfortable. At night temperatures got down to approximately 40-50 degrees.

There are 2 backcountry campsites at Odessa Lake. This makes for a very secluded and peaceful camping experience. We ran into our campground neighbors just a couple of times (and they were awesome!). But at the same time, it felt like we were out there alone.

Odessa Lake is beautiful! There is a short path you can walk alongside the lake, although it does not go around the entire lake. Small waterfalls and streams can be seen on this path. Fishing is permitted at Odessa Lake, but it is catch and release. The fish (Greenback Cutthroat Trout) were biting when we were there. Additionally, there is 1 latrine at the campground.

Spacious Campsite with Beautiful Views, but Very Sparse Fishing

This campsite is very spacious, enough room for all 3 of our tents and 3 hammocks (and there was even room for more!). There are sunny, open spaces for tents, as well as very wooded, shady spaces.

There was a small landing area for the canoes.

There is a large rocky point that the sun hits throughout the day and allows you to watch the sunset in the evening. We spent multiple days fishing off of this point, with little luck. We caught 1 northern from this point. We tried fishing from other spots in the lake and only came up with 2 more northerns… tad disappointing. 

On the opposite side of the island you can canoe (we tried to walk and couldn't find a path) to a cliff (25-30feet) that is great for jumping! You can walk up a clear path to the top. You cannot see the bottom or touch when jumping in.

The campfire/cooking area is large with plenty of logs to sit on. Also, the latrine is located on a well-traveled path up into the woods.

Overall this campsite was wonderful and would have gotten 5 stars if it wasn't for the lack of fish!

Good Campsite, Better Fishing

This campsite has a great landing spot for canoes. We had 4 canoes and there was plenty of room for all 4 right off the water on flat land. There was also flat spaces for our 3 tents. The trees around the campsite allow for hanging hammocks and clothes drying lines.

The latrine (pit toilet) is located on an upward hike through very brushy areas. The fire pit is located on a large rock, but there are logs positioned around as seating.

There are 2 points off of this campsite, which made great sunbathing and fishing spots. In the evening hours, we caught many smallmouth bass and walleye, which was fun and delicious!

During our stay, we even saw an adult male moose swimming across the lake!

Overall, this campsite is a quiet getaway, we rarely saw any other canoes, and we enjoyed our stay!

Pitstop Before Portage

This campground was where we stayed the night before we went out on our portaging canoe trip. I was impressed with how well kept and clean the campground was. The biffy was clean and there were multiple clean water pumps located around the campground.

We stayed at campsite 36, not our ideal choice, there were multiple campsites on the water that looked great. We arrived around 7pm, so campsites were slim pickings. Site 36 was spacious and allowed room for our 2 tents and 2 vehicles (one with a trailer). The site had a picnic table and fire pit and we were located close to the biffy.

There was a clearly labeled trail close to our site to walk to the lake. The lake was beautiful! The trail continued along the shoreline in the wooded area.

Additionally, with the Sawbill Canoe Outfitters located on the campground, there is a small convenience store supplied with food, clothing, souvenirs, camping supplies, etc. There is also a bathroom and you can pay to take a shower in the shower house. The shower cost $4 or $4.50 if you needed to rent a towel. The showers are very clean, but the water temperature is difficult to control (either hot or cold).

Overall, we enjoyed our stay at Sawbill Lake Campground and it was convenient to have the canoe outfitters right there.

Backup Campsite was a Pleasant Surprise

We were aiming to camp at Fairholm Campground on Lake Crescent, but it filled up quick. So we chose Klahowya Campground and we were pleasantly surprised by the beauty of this campground. We were fortunate enough to get a walk-in campsite on the Sol-Duc River. It was spacious and decently private. It was fun to be on the river and there was even a little path you could take to the river.

Overall the campground was clean, but the pit toilet was beyond dirty and the garbage bins were over flowing.

Best Campsite

Hole-in-the-Wall was recommended to us by a ranger in Port Angeles and I am so glad we went with their recommendation. It was the best campsite I have ever camped at!

We parked at Rialto Beach and hiked along the beach until we reached Hole-in-the-Wall. On the way we saw multiple seals swimming near shore and even a whale! The hike was easy and did not take long, just a few miles. We found a campsite steps away from the magnificent rock formations behind piles of driftwood. The view was spectacular!

During our time there we swam in the waves, explored the tide pools, and hiked around the rock formations. It is definitely a backpacking experience I will not forget and I cannot wait to go back!

Easy Hike Rewarded With Beautiful Views

The drive to Shi Shi (pronounced Shy Shy) Beach was amazing. WA 112 is a fun, winding road with breathtaking views of the ocean. To backpack overnight on Shi Shi Beach you will need a Makah Recreation Pass. It was $10 and we purchased it at the Washburn General Store in Neah Bay. We then followed the signs to the Shi Shi Beach Trailhead. Overnight parking is in someone's front yard (about .7 miles from the trailhead), it was $10 a night.

The hike to Shi Shi Beach is relatively easy, at times muddy, and contains 1 very steep hill. Once we were on the beach we continued to hike until we found a campsite. The site was private with a great ocean view.

In the morning the tide pools were amazing! Colorful starfish and sea anemones everywhere. I highly recommend visiting and spending the night!

Moderate Hike With Moderate Reward

Royal Lake is beautiful and the hike to the lake takes you through a variety of terrain. The hike to Royal Lake begins at the Upper Dungeness Trailhead. The path has little to no markings, so make sure you know where you are going. After 1 mile there is a bridge to the left, but you must continue onto the right path. The remaining of the hike is mostly uphill. They day we hiked it rained making the hike more difficult. It is not for the faint hearted, but it is completely doable!

Once we arrived at Royal Lake the views were amazing. We set up camp overlooking the lake and explored around the lake. It is a very small lake, it is a quick walk around and there is a path that takes you to Royal Basin.

Unfortunately, fires are not allowed at this elevation, so be sure to pack a stove or food that does not require cooking. The mosquitos were very bad in the evening, causing us to call it a night early. Also, it gets cold at night, so an extra layer is a must!

The hike out was significantly quicker and easier, due to it being dry and mostly downhill. Overall, I thought Royal Lake was beautiful, but I would not go back.