Peak(s):  Chiefs Head Peak  -  13,579 feet
Date Posted:  08/11/2022
Date Climbed:   08/09/2022
Author:  WildWanderer
 From Sandbeach Lake   

Chiefs Head Peak – 13,579


RT Length: 18.17 miles

Elevation Gain: 5476’

I parked at the Sandbeach Lake Trailhead at Rocky Mountain National Park, and was on the trail at 4:30am.


The Sandbeach Lake Trail was a class 1 trail I took all the way to Sandbeach Lake. There were 2 creek crossings, but they had footbridges across.



It was 5 miles to Sandbeach Lake. Once at the lake, the fastest way to skirt the lake and find a trail is to go right here


But I wanted to see the lake, so I did, and then followed the lake past a small stream, and caught up with the trail there.



After crossing the creek, I followed the trail northeast to treeline. When the trail ended, there were plenty of cairns to guide the way (circled in red).




Once at treeline, I kept aiming for Mt Orton (unranked). There were cairns to mark the way until I was in front of Mt Orton



I then skirted Mt Orton to the left, and went through a very small saddle


I could now see an easy path to Chief Head’s ridge. Here’s the route I took


And some close-up pictures


Once on the ridge, I followed it .3 miles to the summit, on rocky terrain. I was able to keep it all class 2 by staying to the left.



There wasn’t a summit register, or a cairn, or a marker, so I just walked all over the rocky summit.

I summited Chiefs Head Peak at 11am


Chiefs Head Peak:

From the summit I had an amazing view of Pagoda, Longs, and Meeker


This was an out and back hike, so I turned and retraced my steps back down the mountain, around Mt Orton, and to Sandbeach Lake






The cairns picked up again, and I could now see Sandbeach Lake, so route finding was easy until I hit the trail.





Back at the lake, I picked up the Sandbeach Lake Trail, and took this class 1 trail all the way back to the trailhead.



I made it back to my truck at 3:15pm, making this an 18.17 mile hike with 5476’ of elevation gain in 10 hours 45 minutes.


On to the next trailhead!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Plenty of cairns
08/12/2022 09:59
I did Chiefs Head 9 years ago by the same route and I don't
recall seeing that many cairns on the way from Sandbeach
to Mt Orton, so either I missed them (a distinct possibility)
or someone added them in the interim. But that's a good
thing because that's the one part of the route where one needs
to do a bit of route-finding. Good on you for pointing them
out. It's also worth emphasizing that
the best way around Mt Orton seems to be to skirt to the left
(as you did) even though skirting to the right looks like a more
direct way to gain the "North Ridge" (a misnomer if there ever
was one). Personally I think the view from the Chiefs Head
summit into Glacier Gorge is one of the most spectacular
in RMNP and even beats out what one sees from Longs.
Anyway, enough babbling. Thanks for writing this up.

08/12/2022 12:41
Dpage and CarpeDM did this exact same route a couple weeks ago, so I'm guessing they probably added all the cairns.

08/12/2022 17:22
Did it almost the same...years ago. Also had a lovely, long day. Brings back a good memory. Thanks.

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