Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Lake from one third of the way up
Ptarmigan Mountain. Scroll way down to see Lake Granby from this location.
This journey is special because it starts by foot from the town of Grand Lake.
It will show you remarkable terrain and vistas within a day hike of Grand
Lake Village. It's not the sort of hike that many will attempt, but people like
knowing what it just over the ridges, as the crow flies. Our journey starts by foot
before dawn, and returns the same day. Click on the photos to see awesome back
country that can be reached in a single "day hike" from town directly into Rocky
Mountain National Park. The big name features that we visit are Lake Nokoni
and Lake Nanita on the backside of Ptarmigan Mountain.
The photos in this sequence were taken on September 9. In terms of hours of daylight
from sunrise to sunset, this is the same as taking off on March 31 or April 1. If one
made the trek in mid-summer, there would be much more daylight. July would be best.
The days are long and fair in late June, but deep snow lingering from the previous
winter can make parts of the journey difficult.
Below we will add a map of our route up Ptarmigan Mountain from Tunnel Road.
Our route follows a ridge line along the east side of Summerland Park to Mt. Enentah.
There is no trail. Only in a few places, mostly near the bottom, did we have to step
over or around fallen trees. An alternative "route" would have been directly to
Mt. Cairns (10,880'). We don't know how many fallen trees are along that route.
We got to Mt. Enentah (10,781') just as the rising sun had made it over Ptarmigan Mountain
(12,324') to the east. From Mt. Enentah, one follows the ascending ridge line to an
unnamed pass at 11,350' southwest of Ptarmigan Mountain (north of Mount Cairns).
Directly below this pass, we made a short side trip to collect water. We then ascended
to Ptarmigan Mountain. From the steep overlook along the final ridge to Ptarmigan Mountain
we determined that there was a reasonably safe way down to Lake Nanita if one first
followed the ridge that rims the lake and went around to east side. Our route down to
Lake Nanita will be shown on a map.
An alternative route to Lake Nanita and Lake Nakoni from near the top of Ptarmigan Mountain
is via a long tundra walk southeastwards to Andrews Peak and then down and along its
east face. We didn't have enough daylight to try this option and do not know for sure if
there is a route around Andrews Peak that is safe for a non-technical day hike.
The conventional way to Lake Nakoni and Lake Nanita is via the long North Inlet Trail
for 8 miles and then continuing on the well marked trail that switchbacks up at a respectable
and manageable slope for 2½ miles to the Lake Nakoni. Camping is not permitted at the lakes.
If you have the time to spend two nights in the backcountry, then get a National Park camping
permit for a site 6 to 8 miles in along the North Inlet trail. There are no steep grades along
this trail. We did come out this way for our long day hike with the last two or three miles
done in the dark with headlamps. It wasn't difficult except being interminably long towards
the end where the Park Service has you walk for a mile beside private land. It's lovely
moose and elk country with the North Inlet Stream winding through it to enjoy it. It was
too dark and we were too tired to enjoy it. And then, just as I thought we were coming near
the end, where man-made structures might be found, I though I saw reflectors in the dark.
They were spaced a foot and a half apart, horizontally. There were three sets of them, kind
of like reflectors on where I though there might be a fence or property markers. Well, just as
I passed them, the rose up from the ground and revealed themselves to be bull moose!
Click here or on the map shown below for scenes from Mt. Enentah at sunrise.
The dark blue path is our route to Lake Nanita. Grand Lake is at the bottom left
of the map. Mt. Enentah is at the top of the arc in the path in the center of the map..
From Mt. Enentah we a short descent and then follow the ridgeline southeastward
up to timberline and a high pass from which it is a straight shot up, but not too steep,
to Ptarmigan Mountain. Click here or on the map for scenes from Mt. Enentah at sunrise.
Click here for scenes from Mt. Enentah at sunrise.
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