Outdoors: Hike Frisco's Tenmile Range

August 2012

Why we love it: While crowds flock to nearby Quandary Peak (a fourteener), the overlooked summits of Peak 1 and Tenmile Peak to the north provide solitude along with unobstructed views that are every bit as good.

When to go: The earlier in the day, the better. While the mileage isn't intimidating, the grade is steep and progress is slow. It is best to summit by noon before the threat of thunderstorms.

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My radius for weekend dayhikes is within 90 minutes of Denver, thus minimizing drive time and maximizing the sun-drenched outdoor experience. And to this day, I have yet to top the challenge and reward offered by Peak 1 and Tenmile Peak, a pair of summits towering above Frisco about one hour away. Situated along the spiky spine of the Tenmile Range that stretches south to Breckenridge, the mountains stand like two pyramids over Lake Dillon and offer unhindered views of Summit County. Each measure less than 13,000 feet, so they don't make most hiking checklists because of their smaller stature. But size can be deceiving.

Conquering the duo requires nearly 5,000 feet of elevation gain in 10 miles (roundtrip), with a slightly unnerving traverse across a sawtooth ridge between the two. Beginning from the trailhead near downtown Frisco, the route tests the lungs with a quick ascent through Masontown, a former mining establishment destroyed by avalanche, on the way to Mount Royal, a north-facing lookout halfway to the first summit.

Shortly thereafter, the trail emerges above tree line for a ridge hike with expansive high-mountain views to the east and west. A steep, but basic scramble reaches the first of two perches above, where 360-degree panoramas include Copper Mountain, the Gore Range, sprawling Lake Dillon, and the rest of the Tenmile spine that, in the distance, eventually reaches Quandary’s congested crest.

Getting there: From Denver, head west on I-70 until the Frisco Main Street exit. Drive east to Second Avenue and turn right. The trailhead parking lot is straight ahead in less than half a mile, crossing Temple Trail and into a small gravel roundabout where the road ends.