Rocky Mountain NP: North Inlet / Tonahutu Creek Loop Trail Trip Plan

August 2011


The North Inlet/Tonahutu Creek Loop trail Overview

The North Inlet-Tonahutu Creek loop is a 26-mile (42-kilometer) trail that gives you spectacular alpine scenery. We started at the North Inlet trailhead, and hiked to North Inlet Falls.  We stayed there 2 nights, so we didn't miss  the side hike off the North Inlet Trail to Lakes Nokoni and Nanita.  Nanita reflects Ptarmigan Mountain and Andrews Peak off in the distance.  Next we hiked through to the summit of Flattop Mountain. There were numerous backcountry sites to pump water along the way (Twinberry, Ptarmigan and July, just to name a few). From the summit of Flattop, where you are going to get some great photos of snow topped mountains (even in August), you descend past Big Meadows and Granite Falls all the way back to the North Inlet trailhead. In between, we hit the Haynach campsite, where I walked barefoot in a mountain surrounded meadow that was out of a movie.  It sucked climbing the steep mile to get there (after a 10 mile doozey) but it was certainly worth it. 

You'll travel through 5,000+ feet of elevation gain and a number of different ecosystems, including subalpine forest and alpine tundra, drinking spring water along the way and seeing the occasional bull elk staring you in the face while he grazes.  Definitely a classic hike. 


Full Trip Plan


Additional Important Information


Gear List

As far as gear is concerned, this is a non technical hike, so your basic trekking gear list should suffice. If you go during the summer months, you won't have to worry about a lot of clothes or outter wear. Just throw some clothes in a pack with a tent, a bag, and some food and you're all set.

Here is the Gear List I used for this trip if you want an idea of what you might want to bring.


"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."    — Robert A. Heinlein

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