When you’re in Frisco, Colorado, the peak looming overhead is Mount Royal. It’s a mountain version of a “stairmaster.” This hike is a quick butt kick since you gain almost 1,400 feet in two miles, with the bulk of the elevation gain in just over a mile. In other words….it’s straight up. It’s one of those hikes that gets your heart pumping fast, but doesn’t take hours to day. It’s a locals’ favorite. For this hike you start at 9,122 feet and climb up to 10,494 feet at the summit.
I did the hike with my best friend’s son Carson when they were visiting from San Antonio, Texas, last summer. Hiking shoes or boots – something with good treads – are really good for this hike, so are hiking poles. It starts with a gradual climb through lodgepole pine forest. You’ll likely think like I did, “oh this isn’t too bad.”
You’ll come to a trail junction with Masontown Trail (FDT 9077). That takes you to Rainbow Lake and connects to Peaks Trail (FDT 45). Continue straight on the Mount Royal Trail. About 0.9 miles into hike there’s the old mining town of Masontown. Carson and I somehow missed it on the way up, but easily saw it on the way down. The mining camp was abandoned in the early 1900s and what was left was wiped out by an avalanche in 1926. Which is a big reason why it’s a little hard to spot at first. Honestly, I I really like the way we did and explored it on the way down. You can still remnants of structures, mine shaft tailings, and red brick foundations. There’s also a tree teepee near Masontown so look for that too.
The trail follows the 1926 avalanche chute. So, right after Masontown, get ready to hump it up the mountain. This is where you get most of the elevation gain. There’s lots of loose rock which makes it even more challenging. At one point, Carson looked back at me as he was trying to run up a particularly steep section and said, “Man, this is steep!” He’s right. The elevation gain in 1.1 miles is over 1300 feet!
As we continued hiking up we had great views of Dillon Reservoir, the Tenmile Range and the Continental Divide. To the southeast, you can even see one of Colorado’s more well-known 13ers (13,000-foot peaks) Mt. Guyot rising to an elevation of 13,370 feet.
The last 0.25 of a mile or so is relatively flat. Compared to the climb you just, it’s a welcomed change. Once we got to the summit at 10,494 feet we looked down at the tiny cars zooming along I-70 in the Tenmile Canyon. You could hear the cars, but yet had peacefulness at the top. We enjoyed a snack while soaking up the great views of Lake Dillon and the Town of Frisco before heading back down the steep trail. On a trail like this, the hike down can be just as tough as the hike up. Hiking poles help a lot on way down. Give yourself a butt kick and hike the mountain stairmaster in Frisco!