Gregory Canyon Trail > The Ranger Trail > Green Mountain Summit
Starting Elevation: 5800-ish Feet
Highest Elevation: 8144Ft ( Total Gain 2344FT)
Trail Length: Officially 6ish miles, my fitbit said we got around 7 miles, It took us 4 hours to complete but the book I used said 3-4 hours and the locals were cruising past us constantly.
Trail Uses: Hiker & Runner ( lots of runners), NO BIKES or horses….
Degree of Difficulty: Difficult to Strenuous ( a butt killer)
Bathrooms: Yes, at the trailhead and then again at the Green Mountain Lodge, a little over a 1.5 miles in. They are awful! In fact the second worse we have been to in the past 8 months of hiking in Colorado (first being Denver Open space). The smell was super bad at 7AM with a temp of 40F, I cannot imagine what it would be like in the middle of summer . This is a paradox because the trail is insanely crowded and COVERED with poison ivy so you are kinda stuck…..
Pets: Dogs only on leash unless they have the Boulder Green tag which means they passed the verbal command test. Love this rule!
Fees: If you get there early enough and are not a Boulder resident, it is $5 to park in the tiny parking lot at the trailhead. There are 8 spaces in this parking lot, once filled up everyone begins parking on the tight roadway to the parking lot. Which makes for interesting exit….
So I am going to try something a little different, today I will focus on the details of the hike and then post an assessment of the hike later in the week once I have chance to digest what we did. I always feel like I could have said more on the feel of the trail so this week this is my experiment.
We learned about this trail when we were in our sunset photography class….this was one of those classic moments in my life when a person does a look over and decides I can’t handle too much. I had to explain first that we had done some tough hikes(with names) before he gave up this one. He said it was a killer workout and he was so right.
So details only, this is a year round hike from what I have read but as the snow starts to fall the backside of the mountain gets icy, so winter/spring are tricky and you will likely need Yak-tracks to get to the summit. It also gets WINDY so if it is windy down at the trailhead it will be way worse at the top. Something to think about before you start.
Go to the west end of the parking lot to get the Gregory Canyon trailhead,
The Amphitheater trail is part of an alternate East starting and shorter route, but really we just loved the Enjoy Your time message, a cleaver way to ask people to respect the trail. It is not long on the Gregory canyon trail ( .1 miles) before the first turnoff hits the Saddle Rock trail, stay right on the Gregory canyon trail. There is one more trail turnoff at the Crown Rock Trail, go left ( Or stay straight however you see it).
This first mile of hiking is a 900 foot elevation gain, but it is 1.4 miles overall to the next junction at the Long Canyon Trailhead, this is a break in climbing for just .2 miles but a break none the less.
This map help is at all the big trail junctions to keep you on track. Conversely, there are no maps to pickup at the trailhead so it is nice that there is at least this. From here is it is just .2 miles to the Green Mountain Lodge ( Built during the great depression) and the next SMELLY bathroom.
This is where the Ranger trail and the Long Canyon trail split off, go left of the lodge and follow the Ranger trail all the way up and by up, I mean the next 1500 feet up. Notice the snow….this is essentially ice and the higher switchbacks are covered with it. It was not so bad today that we needed more assistance then our poles could provide, if it had been a little later, colder and with more snow we would have needed at least yak -tracks and on some days, I would guess crampons . It is not far to the next trailhead:
This is a great place to decide how you feel, a good place to turnaround or make a nice loop and catch up with the Saddle Rock trail and back, also it is an alternate way down from the summit and could add at least .6 miles to your hike. Or continue on the Ranger Trail to the Summit of green mountain, it was a good steep grade all the way up with a lot of patches of ice. 300 feet below the summit is the last trail break:
From here it is about 300 feet straight up but the rocks are settled in nice steps. Once on the top there is a very short climb up a big rock to the actual summit like 8-10 feet. At the top is a Marker and a mountain indicator of all the mountains that can be seen from up top. Its awesome!
From here you can turnaround the way you came or take the EM Greenman Trail to loop around to the Ranger trail. It is supposed to be much more steep and rocky then the Ranger Trail so in the end we decided to go down the way we came because I was worried about how much my knees could take after seeing what I came up on the easier ascent.
So in a couple of days, after I have digested the whole experience, I will write an opinion post. I would love to know your thoughts on the breakup of information so comment away!
Take 36 west to the Baseline exit and take Baseline past Chautauqa Park. Drive to where Baseline becomes Flagstaff Mountain Road and use caution as you turn left to the Gregory Canyon Trailhead.