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959 North Inlet Trail Guide
Rocky Mountain
National Park

Cascade Falls from the North Inlet Trail

North Inlet Trail at Cascade Falls

We hiked the North Inlet Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park in July of 2013 and 2014. For years we had visited the east side of the Park, but had made limited visits to the west side of the Divide. In 2013, we planned to spend more time in the wild, wild, west side of the Park. We were able to hike the East Inlet, North Inlet, and Timber Lake Trails. We had reservations to hike the Loop (formed by the North Inlet and Tonahutu Trails) but our plans had to be changed due to wildfires in the Tonahutu Creek area.

Our visit to the west was great. The trails were less crowded but still were well maintained and led to great destinations.

On cloudhiking.com, last week we finished the Loop Trail Map and decided to immediately work on the trail guides to the area of the map. In total there will be four. The first guide is for the North Inlet Trail to the North Inlet Junction and continuing to Lake Nanita.

North Inlet close to Summerland Park

North Inlet before reaching Summerland Park

For a few notes on the North Inlet Trail ...

The North Inlet Trailhead is not within the fee based Park areas.

Starting from the trailhead the trail follows a (gated) dirt road to Summerland Park. Past Summerland, the route follows a good trail all the way to North Inlet Junction.

The North Inlet Trail follows the North Inlet drainage.

At North Inlet Junction the North Inlet drainage continues to Lake Solitude. A trail does not connect the two, but Lake Nanita Trail follows the drainage. The North Inlet Trail as it heads towards Flattop Mountain, the trail is in the Hallett Creek drainage. Hallett Creek is a tributary of North Inlet.

The North Inlet Trail is easier than expected. The trail leads to the mountains, but doesn't really climb any. Of course there are a few short climbs, but nothing significant.

Cascade Falls and Big Pool are popular day hike destinations.

The destinations beyond Big Pool are generally reached as a part of an overnight trip.

We saw a few trail runners. The easily graded trail would make a great running course.

War Dance Falls at Ptarmigan Creek is the best waterfall on the route. It is difficult to reach the falls, but worth the effort.

Continuing from North Inlet Junction on either the North Inlet Trail or the Lake Nanita Trail, the grade is stiffer. Both trails climb steadily.

The Lake Nanita Trail first stops at Lake Nokoni. The trail is narrower and seems less used as it leaves Nokoni and heads toward Nanita.

Lakes Nokoni and Nanita are at the same elevation. A saddle separates the two lake. Lake Nanita is a good place to see no one.

The campsites near North Inlet make a good basecamp to explore the area's mountains and lakes.

Trees blocking the path to backpackers.

The trees were down on the trip into the Park, they had been
removed on our return trip

North Inlet Trail is a very popular trail for good reason. Hike it. You will not be disappointed.

Happy North Inlet trails


North Inlet Trail Guide

The Loop Map - Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park


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