The dedicated team at Atoll Boards are always looking at places and scenarios, more challenging and remote the better, to further validate the performance of our signature 11 foot inflatable standup paddle board. We like to try out these already highly proven and popular boards in extreme, demanding conditions- off the beaten track when possible. Loch Lomond, 44 miles NW of Denver on the Continental Divide Trail proved to be one such location. In the heart of the ‘Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests’, Loch Lomond is secluded, serene and breathtakingly gorgeous with a cascading, iSUP accessible waterfall to boot. Team Atoll gathered 4 members. Their paddle boards. Ultralight carbon fiber paddles. And spent a memorable day in late-July 2019 paddling boarding this tranquilly intimate Alpine Lake. Taking in the rugged grandeur of the mountains around us.
What makes using an inflatable stand up paddle board at Loch Lomond different and special is that it is only accessible off a trail open only to off-road vehicles – plus it is frozen solid till mid-July each year. So, unlike its much more famous namesake in Scotland, where the famous song ‘The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond’, goes ‘Oh, ye’ll tak the high road, and I’ll tak the low road, …’ there is no ‘high’ or ‘low’ road to this lake. So, the four of us hiked the 2.3-mile trail (one-way) with our Atoll iSUPs on our backs. This is what makes inflatable boards advantageous over hard boards, the portability. If this adventure doesn’t prove the portability of inflatable boards nothing will. We used the new Atoll travel backpacks with the reinforced waist straps.
The trail starts at 10,356’ (3,157 meters) and the Loch is at 11,189’ (3,411 meters). So, there is about 1,000’ (305 meters) of elevation gain to negotiate. We easily got to the mountain lake within two-hours. One Team member, rather petite at 5 foot tall, but very fit, had no problems carrying the backpack and the paddle. Though semi-popular with hikers there were no other paddle boarders anywhere to be seen on this picturesque lake . We had the Loch to ourselves as you can see from the pictures – albeit with quite a few spectators on the banks. Ice-Out on the Loch had only been a couple of weeks earlier. The water was still frigid, just over 50°F (50°C). Thankfully nobody fell in. The iSUPs were super stable and we all had a fair amount of iSUP mileage under our belts.
The waterfall was a delight. Very pretty! There is no other way to convey its feel. That we could take our paddle boards and other iSUP accessories right up to it, despite some projecting rocks here and there, was a bonus and made the whole experience even more enjoyable.
Knowing the environment and surroundings is fundamental to a safe paddle boarding experience. Safety is always our number one concern, especially when paddling at altitude. We knew that there would be a good chance that a storm would roll by later in the day. So, we decided to head back to our vehicles, at the trail-head, enjoying the delights in our coolers, by 2pm. We got back to Denver without having to contend with a storm.
It was a great day out. A perfect venue for paddle boarding. The 4.6-miles of hiking, in addition, made it quite the adventure. One that I know will linger, fondly, in our memories for longtime to come. Team Atoll we will do this again. Probably next year again, in July or August. We will keep everyone posted our iSUP blog, reach out to any team Atoll member or Ambassador if you feel up to going to next excursion.