Bootprints Hiking Guide: North Tenmile Creek in Frisco, Colorado |

Bootprints Hiking Guide: North Tenmile Creek in Frisco, Colorado

Photos and text by Caroline Lewis
A glimpse looking towards Frisco from about one mile into the backcountry off of North Tenmile Creek Trail.
Caroline Lewis / Special to the Daily |


Mileage: 6.6 miles round trip

Time: 4-5 hours, depending on athletic ability

Elevation gain: Roughly 941 feet

Gear: Tennis shoes, hiking boots, trekking poles

Getting there: From Interstate 70, take Exit 201 for Frisco. The parking area is immediately to the west of the interstate. Park in the dirt lot marked by the trailhead sign.

For this first installment of my summer hiking guide, I decided to start from the ground up.

I picked a hike that I was sure would be almost-entirely thawed, if not completely dry: North Tenmile Creek. This easy-to-find trail is located right off of Interstate 70 and makes for a straightforward hike with no extreme elevation gain, starting at the Frisco’s elevation of roughly 9,160 feet.

The trail is a popular one, but don’t let the full parking lot deter you. It’s an easy trail to spread out on, and with so many branching trails leading down to and around Tenmile Creek, finding solitude isn’t difficult.

Hiking North Tenmile Creek trail

I would suggest hikers bring hammocks to sling up, towels to spread out on, or fishing poles to test the waters with. North Tenmile Creek is far from just a hiking trail — it’s a playground for nature lovers and explorers.

Not far down the trail, groups of people were relaxing — some enjoying picnics, others lounging in camp chairs by the stream. North Tenmile is continuously stunning, and offers hikers an easy oasis. Even walking down 0.25 to 0.5 miles, you will find inviting views.

Although the end goal is hiking out to the intersection with the Gore Range — where things start to really open up — North Tenmile doesn’t have a dull moment at any point.

shaped by the seasons

The trail was completely thawed and well-shaded by verdant, blooming aspen trees and rich spruce trees alike when I hiked in early June. Tenmile Creek, the body of water for which the trail is named, was raging — almost brimming above the large boulders along the creek’s edge.

Along the way, numerous waterfalls made by snowmelt were mesmerizing, both to look at and to listen to. The 6-mile hike took longer than expected because of the scenic detours along the creekside. Most of the outshooting social trails in the early stretchs of the hike lead back up to the main trail eventually, so don’t worry about having to back track, but do try and stay on the trail itself. Trail erosion can lead to dangerous conditions, not only for us, but also for nature.


The entire trail is classic Colorado, leading hikers roughly 3 miles into the backcountry with Tenmile Creek alongside the entire time. The trail winds underneath the shade of both Chief and Wichita mountains: the two craggy mountains one can see from the top of Mount Royal.

Each turn of the trail unfolds more beauty. On the lefthand side of the trail are beaver ponds of shallow depth, reflecting the Colorado bluebird sky dotted here and there with harmonious clouds.

Just as I passed the Eagles Nest Wilderness sign, at about 2 miles into the hike, I started to hit patches of snowpack. The snow patches aren’t nearly thick enough to need snowshoeing equipment, but I would suggest wearing hiking boots on this trail, at least until later into the month of June.

At places where the trail was in the sun, there was some thick mud from melting snow. I felt mildly guilty tromping through the mud in this later stretch — the many social trails taper off after about 0.5 miles and the main trail becomes clear — as I knew that my footprints would impact the trail moving forward into the summer months.

Out of the summer sun and mostly flat, North Tenmile Trail is a leisurely hike for those looking to amble along enjoying the scene.

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