Hike: Big Meadows to North Inlet (6 day)


We’ll explore peaks, valleys, waterways, and prairies in this unforgettable tour of Rocky Mountain’s most scenic regions.

SKU: big-meadows-6 Categories: , ,


The Big Meadows to North Inlet Trail promises open views, wildlife, spectacular hiking on the historic Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, peak ascents, and an adventure like you’ve only dreamed of. We’ll start and end at Grand Lake, Colorado’s largest natural lake set in the southwestern area of Rocky Mountain National Park. We’ll explore peaks, valleys, waterways, and prairies in this unforgettable tour of Rocky Mountain’s most scenic regions.

Additional information

Group Size

2, 3, 4

Trip Dates

2024 Dates

We can create custom backpacking trips almost any time of the year. Call us at (720) 242-9828 for more details!

Trip Details


Day 0: Meet and go over gear, food, and itinerary in the afternoon.

Day 1: We meet in the early morning and drive 3-4 hours to Grand Lake on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park. This drive takes us over Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous road in the United States. We start at a trailhead of 8,800-feet. The trail then ascends several moderate to steep climbs before entering a series of meadows where elk and moose frequently graze. On the way into camp, hikers have the option to visit Granite Falls and a few other natural features. After 4 miles, we arrive at the campsite, one of the best sites in the western part of the park for deer, elk, and moose viewing.

Day 2: From the campsite, we track northeast along the creek and hike approximately six miles to the next campsite which sits on the edge of the Sprague Glacier, one of the few active glaciers in Colorado. The campsite is located just under tree line in a forested area. From here hikers can climb several peaks such as Sprague Mountain or Nakai Peak.

Day 3: This day includes 7.4 miles of hiking. From the campsite, we follow a trail skirting Ptarmigan Pass and arriving at the top of Flattop Mountain, which sits 1 mile and 800 feet below the famed Hallett Peak. From here we descend and follow the trail to our campsite at the confluence of Ptarmigan Creek and North Inlet. In this area, hikers may spot bears, moose, elk, and bighorn sheep as well as a variety of birds. From this campsite, there are opportunities to explore peaks, alpine lakes, and waterfalls.

Day 4: This day will afford us an opportunity to explore the peaks and valleys below the Continental Divide and take a 7-9 mile day hike (with small day packs) into a secluded and beautiful valley.

Day 5: Today we’ll hike up North Inlet, in between a breathtaking landscape of peaks, basins, and creeks. We’ll have the option to visit Cascade Falls, set between evergreen forests and lush valleys. Expect approximately 6 to 8 miles of hiking.

Day 6: On day 6 we complete the loop by hiking approximately 8 miles back to the trailhead. We will skirt Grand Lake and get one last view of Green Mountain before making our way back to Boulder for the post-backpack celebration!

Difficulty Description: Difficult – On difficult trips, you will hike up to 8 miles a day with a 25-35 pound backpack. Elevation gain/loss may be as much as 3000 feet on maintained trails, or up to 2000 feet on more rugged trails. For a difficult trip, you should be comfortable hiking 6-8 miles in a day in hilly or mountainous terrain with a 25-pound backpack at altitudes of 7000’ – 10,000’.

What to Bring: A list will be sent with trip confirmation.

Included: The services of a professional backpacking guide, Rocky Mountain National Park permit and backcountry camping permits; transportation between Boulder and the wilderness trailheads; all food during the backpacking trip; a re-supply drop, if necessary; gear for water purification and cooking; bear canister, tent, medical kit; CB radio and contingency and emergency support.

Not included in our rates: Meals while in the frontcountry (breakfast on Day 1 and dinner on the last day), laundry, alcoholic beverages, hotel overnight before your trip and at trip’s conclusion; personal equipment (sleeping bag and pad, backpack – these items are available to rent), and gratuities for your guide(s) – while this is at your discretion, the recommended amount is 20%.  If you want to add fly fishing, the price is $100 extra per person (rod, reel, and flies for the trip and backpacking – angling guide).


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