Grand Lake via North Inlet, Lakes Nokoni and Nanita

      By Gordon S. Novak Jr.

My brother and I (in our 20's at the time) decided to hike from Bear Lake to Grand Lake via the North Inlet route. This is a long hike in any case, and a detour in the middle made it longer.

The route begins with a climb of Flattop (4.4 miles). From the back of Flattop it is possible to see all the way to Grand Lake, and the trail basically follows that route down. It's a remote and less-visited area of the Park.

Well into the descent, but still some way from Grand Lake, we see a sign: Lakes Nokoni and Nanita, just a few miles off to the side. Why not visit them? We may not be back this way for a while. So off we go; the trail of course is fairly steeply uphill.

If you have been wondering where the good fish are in the Park, I can tell you: they're in Lake Nokoni. We saw schools of huge cutthroat trout, moving through the water like fleets of submarines. How have these fish survived? Easy: it's a nine-mile hike (one way) to get to them.

The west side of the Park is wetter than the arid east side, and as we get lower we hit the mosquitos. Of course there are mosquitos on the east side of the divide, but they usually aren't too bad. You've seen the cartoons where a mosquito points its stinger forward and noisily dive-bombs straight at its victim? This is where those mosquitos live.

We finally reach the trailhead late in the day, and we are very glad to see that our family is there to pick us up. The total hike has been some 25 miles in one day; a very long and tiring day but a memorable hike.

Rocky Mountain National Park: The High Peaks