The Hand Lake Trail is partially located within the Mt. Washington Wilderness. The trail meanders through a moderately forested, sub-alpine ecosystem. Hand Lake is located within a half mile hike of the trailhead. A small shelter is situated near the south end of the lake. North of the lake, at the trail junction the trail continues both north to tie in with the Hand Lake Cutoff Trail, taking hikers to Scott Mountain. By continuing north on the trail beyond the cutoff, hikers connect to the Deer Butte Trail. Back at the main junction, the trail also continues southwest and connects with the Benson Lake Trail.