- Date hiked: 09/20/2020
- Hiked from: Wild Basin Trailhead
- Distance hiked: 7.5 miles – 1 way
- Total elevation gain: 2,240 ft
- Maintained trail: No
- Overall Difficulty: 8/10 – Route finding and possible bushwhacking after leaving Thunder Lake
- Overall Views: 7/10 – Peaceful alpine views
Box Lake is a marvelous tarn that sits at the base of Tanima Peak. The easiest way to reach Box Lake is from the Wild Basin Trailhead. Take the Thunder Lake trail until you reach Thunder Lake, then the 1 mile or so off trail bushwhack begins.
Video of our Hike to Box Lake
Hiking to Box Lake from Thunder Lake
The easiest path to reach Box Lake is to head southeast from the drainage at Thunder Lake. Make your way around the base of Tanima Peak. Be cautious not to get up on the ridge. The unimproved, unmaintained trail is not exceptionally difficult to stay on, but you will more than likely be hopping over a couple of downed trees.
An alternate route to reach Box Lake would be to cut off the Thunder Lake trail about a mile before reaching Thunder Lake and crossing through dense trees and extremely uneven, sketchy terrain. This was the option we took on the hike back as we wanted to stop by Mertensia Falls. Though the distance is shorter the hike is pretty tough and your navigation skills need to be on point.
Our two different Routes to Reach Box Lake
The east shore of Box Lake is easy enough to navigate around and explore. We didn’t see any fish in the lake when we were there but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. This is truly a less-visited lake due to the off-trail navigating and rough terrain to get there. If you decide to make the trek to Box Lake you will most likely have the lake to yourself.
From Box Lake you have the option of visiting some other high elevation alpine lakes in the area. Eagle Lake sits right above it and Frigid Lake and Indigo Pond will require extra miles of hiking with considerable elevation gain over rough terrain.
As with all remote lakes that are off trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, recommend GPS device, map, and compass. Along with good fitness, route finding, and experience to reach these lakes safely.