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829 North Inlet Trail 2013-07-05

Ptarmigan Mountain from Lake Nokoni

In March (2013) we made Rocky Mountain National Park backcountry campsite reservations for the Bear Lake to Grand Lake Loop. We planned to start at Bear Lake, cross the pass at Flattop Mountain, descend on the Tonahutu Creek Trail continue to Big Meadows, go south in Big Meadom to North Inet Trailhead, then climb back up the North Inlet Trail to Flattop Mountain, and descend to Bear Lake.

Then there was a fire ... The fire was contained, but the burn area covered the Tonahutu Creek Trail so the trail was not safe to use. We received a call from the Backcountry Office telling us that the trail was closed and our reservations needed to be revised. The folks in the office were very accommodating and worked hard to revise our trip.

Last Saturday, we drove to the west side of the Park and started our trip.

Instead of starting at Bear Lake we parked at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center and walked a couple of short trails to the North Inlet Trailhead. Continuing, we followed the North Inlet Trail to the Ptarmigan campsite, near Ptarmigan Creek. The next day we packed and moved a couple of miles to Pine Marten Campsite. After setting camp we hiked to a couple of lakes to scout our route on Ptarmigan for the next day. On Monday, we climbed Ptarmigan Mountain, returned to camp by noon and moved camp to North Inlet Junction. The last day, Tuesday, we hiked out and returned to the Visitor Center.

It was a great four day trip, here are a few notes ...

The trails around the Kawuneeche Visitor Center were heavily used by horses.

The Continental Divide Trail was also disrupted by the fire. We passed a hiker, who might have been a thru hiker. Too bad we didn't ask.

Leaving North Inlet Trailhead, the first 1.25 miles or so, were very hot and boring. After Summerland Park Campsites, the trail enters the forest and the scenery improves dramatically.

Ptarmigan campsite was nothing special. The Dancing Warrior Falls which is close by on Ptarmigan Creek was very difficult to reach due to tree fall. Reaching the Falls was still worth the effort.

The Pine Marten campsite was outstanding. Good position, good views, and close to water. It was five star!

A good trail leads to Lake Nokoni and a fair trail continues on to Lake Nanita. Both lakes are worthy destinations.

It took us less than 6 hours, round trip, to climb Ptarmigan Mountain from Pine Marten campsite. It was a good steady climb. The most difficult section was a steep talus field (large rocks) near the start.

We left our camp set until we returned from the climb. On returning we packed and moved to North Inlet Junction.

North Inlet Junction was also a good campsite. The area even had a privy. The privy was surrounded by three walls. Interestingly enough, the trail approached the one side without a wall!

The trail was not crowded.

Surprisingly, the trail climbed very gradually.

It rained every afternoon and evening.

We still favored the East Inlet Trail, it was one of our Park favorites, but the North Inlet Trail was worthy.

Now, for a few photos ...

North Inet Trail, finally in the trees

The trail finally in the woods

Cascade Falls, a very popular destination

Cascade Falls

The Pool, a popular swimming hole

The Pool

Dancing Warriors Falls

Dancing Warriors Falls

Ptarmigan camp

Ptarmigan Campsite

Ptarmigan Towers form Lake Nokoni

Ptarmigan Towers from Lake Nokoni

Amy on the summit of Ptatmigan Mountain

Amy at the Summit of Ptarmigan Mountain

camp at North Inlet Junction

North Inlet Junction Campsite

Wish you were here!

Happy North Inlet trails


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