Hiking Greyrock Mountain
This strenuous 7.6 mile hike outside of Fort Collins, CO features some gorgeous and expansive 360 degree views from the summit into Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding mountains.
We hiked this back in October before any of the major snowfall of the season. After exploring the Boulder/Nederland/Estes Park area a lot, we’ve been wanting to branch out and try hikes in some other places. I found this hike in a local hiking book that I like – Basecamp Denver – and was immediately intrigued by the shape of the mountain.
The parking lot for this hike is across the road from the trailhead, so you have to cross the road carefully to get to the trail. There are restrooms at the parking lot.
Most of the hike is moderate, but the stretch off the loop to the mountain top at 7,616′ is strenuous. The most difficult part of the hike is the scramble to the top of the summit – some parts are quite narrow and the potential fall is very steep and far.
The trailhead has a sign that explains how the trail was first made in the early 1900’s and then expanded and enhanced by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s.
Close to the trailhead, a footbridge crosses the Cache la Poudre River –
Cache la Poudre River –
The trail follows a gully for a little while. In the early morning not much sun reached the area and it was chilly. At mile 0.7 you come to a fork in the trail and turn right to head the most direct way to Greyrock Mountain.
As you hike up the trail, the views of the surrounding mountains get better and better. You likely noticed by now from the pictures that a lot of trees look burned. This area was affected by the High Park Fire of June 2012, which was sparked by a lightning strike. It was the second largest fire in Colorado history, burning over 87,000 acres.
Further up, you start to see Greyrock Mountain looming –
Turnoff to Greyrock Mountain
At mile 2.3 you reach another fork in the trail. In order to reach the summit of Greyrock Mountain, you need to turn right.
The hike uphill is steep and strenuous. You cover over 800 ft in elevation gain over 1 mile. There is quite a lot of scrambling over boulders along the way. For this part of the hike we tucked our hiking poles away on the outside of our backpacks.
In this picture you can see how steep it is (I’m up there in the middle) –
Another point to note about this trail is that it is not well marked. You’ll sometimes come across wooden posts or rock cairns to show the way, but I would not recommend this trail to a beginner. If you go, a GPS hiking map app like AllTrails, HikingProject, or GaiaGPS is really helpful to keep you on trail. We could not tell where the trail a few times along the way and our GaiaGPS map helped us make sure we were on track.
Wooden post marking –
Greyrock Mountain Summit
The summit of Greyrock Mountain is definitely worth the trek up to see.
Just below the summit is a small pond. In October it was already cold enough for it to be iced over –
The scramble to the summit is a bit precarious, and you need to pay very careful attention. Once you get to the top, the views are amazing all around.
Looking southwest out to Rocky Mountain National Park –
Looking out west toward Hewlett Gulch –
Mountains to the south –
Looking back down to the pond and the mountains to the east –
To the north, the view stretched out very far as well. I’m pretty sure we were looking all the way out into Wyoming.
Greyrock Meadow Trail
After descending the steep trail down the mountain, at the junction you can either go back down the way you came for a shorter 6.3 mile option to the hike, limiting your elevation gain to about 2,000 ft (according to Base Camp Denver).
We wanted to take advantage of exploring the area, so we decided to do the loop around on Greyrock Meadow Trail. This longer option is 7.6 miles and has 700 ft more elevation gain (according to my Suunto Traverse watch), as there are some ups and downs along the way.
After hiking through the meadow, the trail goes downhill.
At the end of the downhill, you find yourself in a meadow with some very rocky mountains around it.
Past the meadow, you hike uphill again and get a nice vantage of Greyrock Mountain from a different angle.
I’m glad we went the long way around, because we could see a greater variety of views along the way.
A picture doesn’t do justice to the beauty of the mountains in this area –
As you head down you see the mountain with Hewlett Gulch again, but close up. We could even see the trail from where we were.
Recommended as a Strenuous Hike
We would definitely recommend the hike to Greyrock Mountain for anyone who is an experienced hiker and prepared for a strenuous hike. The views all along the trail are varied and interesting, with particularly spectacular views from the summit. The only thing that might prevent me from going again is the precarious scramble near the summit – that made me really nervous. If you go, please make sure to be careful.