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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Tonahutu Creek to Big Meadows - RMNP, CO

Guide 2 Triplogs  0 Topics
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 10.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,524 feet
Elevation Gain 950 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,000 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 15.8
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
4  2009-06-17 nonot
Author nonot
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 236
Photos 2,001
Trips 479 map ( 4,543 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Sep, Aug, Jul → Any
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  4:34am - 7:36pm
Official Route
0 Alternative

You can't pronounce it, but it's a fun hike!
by nonot

Likely In-Season!
This hike starts near the town of Grand Lake and gradually climbs into the Rockies. This description stops at Big Meadows, which coincides with the intersection of the Green Mountain Trail. This is a popular horse route, watch for landmines.

Afternoon storms are common in the Rockies, bring a warm hat and a waterproof jacket so that you'll be equipped for snow and rain.

From the trailhead, begin hiking north along the Tonahutu Creek. The trail will parallel the creek throughout the hike. In the beginning, there were a few downed trees to hop over, but I did encounter several people clearing the trails further on, so the park service seems to take maintenance of this trail seriously.

In about a mile you will pass a junction with a trail that heads towards the lodge. Soon afterwards, you will pass a trail that could take you to the visitor center on the west side of the park. Staying on the Tonahutu Creek Trail, continue to climb gradually uphill. Certain areas of the Rockies have been devastated by the Mountain Pine Beetle as of this writing (June, 2009), so you will observe areas of patchy forest with much fallen timber scattered about.

Hopping over some muddy spots, the trail begins to follow the creek much more closely. You begin to notice that to your east, the forest has retreated away from the creek. Soon you are trying to peak out and north to see how big the clearing gets. Finally, after about 5 miles, you will reach the sign for Big Meadows, which is a backcountry camping site.

Hang a left and walk a hundred yards to the intersection with the Green Mountain trail to orient yourself. Now walk back to the Big Meadows sign and head towards the creek. A log serves as a pretty good bridge and past that you will have to hurdle some of the fingerlets of the creek. The meadow is expansive, several miles long, and deserves the name "Big Meadows". If you want to check out the campgrounds continue to the other side of the creek, there is a privy hidden in the campgrounds.

I encountered two rangers, who, after shooting the breeze a bit, disclosed they were packing out garbage and gear left by previous horse-packers. Pack out your crap! I left them as they were taking care of a log strewn across the trail with a handsaw, as they couldn't bear to make the chainsaw guy come all the way out there for one log.

Return the way you came.

Water Sources
The entire trail runs along a creek, bring a filter!

Big Meadows has several campsites. To camp in RMNP you will need a backcountry camping permit.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2009-06-17 nonot
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$

    Rocky Mountain National Park
    $20 per vehicle, good for up to 7 days. It is free to hike but backpacking/camping permits are extra. View NPS Info

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From the town of Granby, CO proceed north on highway 34 until you see the sign for Grand Lake. Turn right at the sign for Grand Lake and obey the 25 mph sign. After about a mile, the road forks, take the left towards the boat ramp. Before you cross the big white bridge look for a brown sign on your left that mentions Tonahutu Creek and North Inlet Trailheads. Turn left here and drive up an unpaved crummy road. Do NOT park at Tonahutu trailhead, obey the 80,000 signs indicating no parking. Turn right and drive over the bridge, going 0.1 miles to park at North Inlet trailhead.

    If you have a trailer or don't want to drive up the crummy unpaved road, simply park on the main road below.

    Note: This trail is in RMNP but to get to the trailhead you do not go through the entrance station so I don't know how they would enforce the permit. I suppose you could hike here for free. I didn't have anything to put on my car, so I suppose it is on the honor system, unless a ranger is there checking permits. If you intend to go into the park, it may be worthwhile to pass the Grand Lake turnoff, grab the permit, and head back to the trailhead.
    page created by nonot on Jun 16 2009 11:20 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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