Lower Sand Creek Lake Trail

HARD 14 reviews

Lower Sand Creek Lake Trail is a 6.7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Westcliffe, Colorado that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

6.7 miles
1,909 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash




rock climbing






wild flowers



Directions from Cottonwood Creek: From Cottonwood Creek on the Baca Grant. Stop at the Administrative and Maintenance Building for permission and directions to the beginning of the trail.

3 days ago

Hiked this trail Aug 11. Our app recorded 6.2 miles RT from the upper parking lot/TH. It takes about 45 min-1 hr to drive to the TH from Westcliffe. You definitely need a high-clearance 4WD vehicle to drive the last 3 miles of the road to get to the upper parking lot and to get out of your parking spot (HA!) (we had to tow someone out of their spot because they were stuck). There is room for about 20-25 vehicles at the upper lot, and another parking area about a minute down the road. The lot was mostly full by 9am, and this is the busiest TH we've seen in the Westcliffe area. A bathroom is at the lower TH.
It is a typical CO trail and not anything too extreme or rugged. We had gorgeous weather and it was beautiful, varying scenery. Saw about a dozen ptarmigan. Also saw 4 horses along the trail, and some horse poop. Some remnants of wildflowers, but mostly dried out. No mosquitoes. Lots of views from Music Pass and neat bristlecone pines around the pass. The view of pointy Tijeras Peak was our favorite, and it also happens to be the backdrop of Lower Sand Creek Lake--just gorgeous! Some backcountry camping sites at the lake and good fishing! Many trout were swimming around as we ate lunch at the lake. Note: You do hike up in elevation and down and up again to get to the lake and then reverse to get back to the TH, so it can make for some "hot" climbing back up to Music Pass in the afternoon on your way back to the TH.

The above, posted directions for this trail are wrong. Here are the correct ones:
-Drive south on Hwy 69 for 4.6 miles
-Turn right on CR 119 (Colfax Ln) and drive south for 6 miles to a T intersection
-Turn left on CR 120
-After 0.2 mi, the road makes a sharp right and becomes CR 119
-Continue 5 miles to lower Music Pass TH
-Road (now 4WD) continues for another 2.5 miles and ends at upper Music Pass TH

10 days ago

It was a good long hike - 8 miles total, out and back. Only for the adventurous and experienced!

1 month ago

Beautiful! The view from the pass is amazing.

It should be noted that there is no collectable water until the river where you turn off to the lake. Not really a big deal from the 4x4 trailhead, but you'll need to bring a lot if you're coming from the 2wd trailhead.
You don't reach water until mile 5. There is a little trickle on the pass and another on the far side, but neither are very collectable and will probably stop flowing in a few weeks.

My recording said 6.18 miles, 2,599 ft ascent, 438 ft descent on the way to the lake from the 2wd.

Also, there were kind of a lot of people camping in the meadow.

2 months ago

Great hike! Camped in the valley before the ascent to lower lake

Saturday, July 22, 2017

This area is everything we had hoped for! Beautiful scenery, wildlife, fishing. The hike wasn't too bad, beginning at the trailhead makes a big difference. Walking up the FS road would have taken a lot more time and energy. Saw a few other hikers but only one group camping near us. Great trip, we'll be back again!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

This hike is well worth it. Not to far and not to difficult. I was there the last week in July and the fish were rising all over. I will definitely be back and bring my fishing rod next time.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Absolutely worth the trip. Beautiful views and good fishing. Lower Sand Creek Lake is nestled right next to Tijeras Peak.You will also see Music Mtn, Milwaukee Peak and Marble Mtn near the two lakes. Upper Sand Creek Lake is a further .7 miles. The Upper lake hike has less of a ridge to climb but is further in distance. Again offers breathtaking scenery in addition to great fishing. Encountered others on the trail as they were headed back to the lot early in the am. Otherwise had the entire two lakes to ourselves.

1 month ago

1 month ago

2 months ago

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Wednesday, August 05, 2015