- Date hiked: 11/07/2020
- Hiked from: Sandbeach Lake Trailhead
- Distance hiked: 15 Miles Round trip
- Total elevation gain: 3,900 ft
- Maintained trail: No.
- Overall Difficulty: 8/10 – Taking the Mount Orton route is 8/10. Taking Hunters Creek I’d rate this 9/10.
- Overall Views: 9/10 – Once on the north ridge of Mount Orton the views of Mount Meeker, Longs Peak and Pagoda Mountain will keep you busy. Hunters Creek route has less pleasing views.
The hike to Keplinger Lake is one of the most beautiful hikes in the Wild Basin of Rocky Mountain National Park. That is of course, if you take the Mount Orton route there.
There’s two main routes that will lead you to Keplinger Lake. Take the north ridge of Mt Orton, and then descend into the valley below once past the summit. You can also take Hunters Creek. Which is a more unpleasant, bushwhack with less views. Although the Hunters Creek route is technically shorter with less elevation gain, route finding is more difficult and the bushwhacking is a pain. This is more true with snow.
Video of our Hike to Keplinger Lake taking both routes
Keplinger Lake sits at the base of Pagoda Mountain in a horseshoe shaped cirque. It’s one of the higher alpine lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park at just under 11,700 ft.
Our route to Keplinger Lake there and back
This is the route we took there and back. Mt Orton to the lake and Hunters Creek on the return hike. This should be used as a reference only and keep in mind we wandered off our projected route many times do to downed trees and deep snowfields in the valley.
We visited Keplinger Lake late Fall and besides the outlet of the alpine lake, it was frozen over probably a few inches thick at most of the lake. Not quite thick enough to walk on comfortably.
Very few people make the trip out to Keplinger Lake. When we were researching routes there were very few blog posts, and practically no videos out there showing how to get to the lake. If you are a seasoned adventurer that enjoys peace and solitude then this is a great destination.