Shooting straight up over 1,000 feet above I-70 in Frisco, Colorado, lies a mountain fit for a king or queen.
The 10,502-foot Mount Royal sits at the very north of the Ten Mile Range and sports an impressive, hair-raising view from its summit. The mountain drops off into a nearly vertical cliff toward the north, and the vehicles traveling on the interstate below look like tiny toys moving east and westbound. Across from Royal is Buffalo Mountain (12,777 feet), and to the east, parts of Dillon Reservoir, the slopes of Keystone Ski Resort, and 14ers Gray's Peak and Torrey's Peak can be seen.
The trailhead is situated just off I-70 in Frisco, and it is reached by parking at the lot for the whitewater park and then snowshoeing or skiing down the snow-covered recreation path for about a half mile until the real cardio workout actually begins. The slope immediately pitches up, and after a mile hikers will pass the old mining town of Masontown that was wiped out by an avalanche in 1926. In the winter, most remains of the town will likely be covered in snow.
The slope gets steeper as the hike continues, and hikers who reach the ridge and the views in all directions will earn a much needed boost of energy for the scramble over to the summit of Mount Royal. Hikers can eat a picnic lunch on a hollowed out log with a front row seat of the Gore Range before turning around and descending back down to town on skis, boards or snowshoes.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.