Green Mountain Loop, Chautauqua Park Trailhead, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado
Green Mountain Loop - 9.75 miles
Chautauqua Park Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||9.75 miles (includes spur to Green Mountain summit)|
|Start-End Elevation:||5,710' - 8,144' (max elevation at Green Mountain summit)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,434' net elevation gain (+2,705' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Green Mountain Loop - 9.75 Miles Round-Trip
Green Mountain (8,144') stands prominently over Boulder's iconic Flatirons and historic Chautauqua Park. The Mesa, Bear Canyon, Green-Bear, Ranger and Baseline trails form a challenging route up and around this large mountain complex.
Visitors will enjoy open space along the eastern foothills, quiet forests and exceptional views from high points leading to the summit:
From Chautauqua Park, head south on Blue Bell Road to the Mesa Trail (.55 miles : 6,010). Damage from the 2013 floods is pronounced along Bluebell Creek. The Mesa Trail climbs steadily through uniform ponderosa to the Kohler Mesa Trail split (1.15 miles : 6,250'), past which it levels across east-facing contours in open space.
The Mesa wraps past Skunk Canyon to a steep, twisting descent that's been nominally re-routed since the 2013 floods (1.85 miles : 6,278').
It nadirs across a small stream, then rises back to a large meadow with connections for NCAR (2.0 miles) and Mallory Cave (2.08 miles : 6,215'). The trail undulates down to a fire road (2.45 miles : 6,101'), which crosses a newly-formed gorge along Bear Canyon Creek. Once over it winds steeply up a rutted track to the Bear Canyon Trail split (2.75 miles : 6,262').
The Bear Canyon Trail is rugged in places but generally keeps a steady, moderate pace. Note willow and cottonwood along the creek corridor, and fir and aspen at higher elevations.
The trail crosses Bear Canyon Creek (4.2 miles : 7,030') and scales switchbacks up the canyon's north wall. The upper canyon widens with views back down the canyon, and south toward Bear Peak (8,461') and South Boulder Peak (8,549').
It levels through a small clearing to the Bear Peak West Ridge Trail - Green-Bear Trail split (4.6 miles : 7,181'). Turn right (north) on the Green-Bear Trail.
The Green-Bear Trail scales the south flank of Green Mountain on a relatively smooth surface, gaining 680' in 1.75 miles to the Ranger Trail - Green Mountain Summit Trail split (6.35 miles : 7,860').
Follow signs to Green Mountain (6.5 miles : 8,144'), which features a peak-finder that illustrates a 100-mile span of the Rockies. Retrace your steps back to the Ranger Trail (6.65 miles), which continues north on a steep, winding descent through dense timber.
Travel moderates past the E.M. Greenman Trail split (7.5 miles : 6,965') to the historic Greenman Lodge (7.7 miles). It levels beside a newly carved gorge from the 2013 floods, gradually wrapping to the NE side of Green Mountain and top of Gregory Canyon (8.1 miles : 6,650').
Here it begins another steep, rugged descent to the Gregory Canyon Trailhead (9.2 miles : 5,856'). Gregory Canyon supports an array of wildflowers, and apple and plum trees known to attract bears.
Cross the Gregory Canyon Trailhead parking lot and follow signs for the Baseline Trail and Chautauqua Park. The Baseline Trail emerges in open space at the base of Flatiron #1 and glides back to Chautauqua Park to complete the loop (9.75 miles : 5,710').
- N39 59.930 W105 16.970 — 0.0 miles : Chautauqua Park Trailhead
- N39 59.496 W105 17.119 — .6 miles : Bluebell Road - Mesa Trail junction
- N39 59.126 W105 17.157 — 1.15 miles : Mesa Trail - Kohler Mesa Trail junction
- N39 58.677 W105 17.055 — 2.05 miles : Mesa Trail - Mallory Cave Trail junction
- N39 58.268 W105 17.010 — 2.7 miles : Mesa Trail - Bear Canyon Trail junction
- N39 58.289 W105 18.324 — 4.2 miles : Cross creek (right) on wooden bridge
- N39 58.453 W105 18.475 — 4.6 miles :Bear Canyon - Green Bear Trail junction
- N39 58.970 W105 18.229 — 6.35 miles : Green Bear Trail - Ranger Trail junction
- N39 58.915 W105 18.095 — 6.5 miles : Green Mountain Summit
- N39 59.409 W105 18.315 — 7.5 miles: Ranger Trail - EM Greenman Trail junction
- N39 59.849 W105 18.345 — 8.15 miles : Begin switchbacks down Gregory Canyon
- N39 59.845 W105 17.572 — 9.2 miles : Gregory Canyon Trailhead
- N39 59.930 W105 16.970 — 9.75 miles : Chautauqua Park Trailhead
- Be mindful of seasonal closures for nesting raptors, bear and mountain lion activity.
- Steep sections, especially on north-facing slopes, can be snow covered through mid-spring. Traction devices offer valuable support in these conditions.
- Bears rely heavily on fruits and berries in Bear Canyon and Gregory Canyon. Avoid going off-trail, and leave fruits and berries to the local wildlife.
- Gregory Canyon is named for John Gregory, an 1860s miner who built a road up the canyon to gold mines in the Black Hawk area. Though serviceable for several decades, the road's rudimentary construction and canyon's steep pitch were prohibitive, and eventually Flagstaff Road was completed in 1906 to replace it.
- The Ranger Trail's origin is often attributed to Martin Parsons, a dedicated local ranger in the early 1900s. Apple trees in lower Gregory Canyon were likely planted by Ernest Greenman, who's credited with planting hundreds of apple trees throughout the Boulder foothill canyons.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- The Mesa Trail and surrounding areas are day-use only. No camping is allowed.
Rules and Regulations
- All dogs must be leashed in the parking lot and trailhead areas. Beyond the trailhead, dogs must be on a held leash unless they meet Voice and Sight Control Standards and display a City of Boulder Voice and Sight Tag.
- Mountain Bikes are not permitted on the Mesa Trail and its offshoots.
- Choke cherry, wild plum, berry, apple or flower picking on open space is illegal and strictly enforced.
Directions to Trailhead
From Boulder, take Baseline Road west of Broadway 1 mile to the Chautauqua Park entrance on the left hand side of the road.
From Denver, take I-25 North to HWY 36 towards Boulder. As you enter Boulder, turn left onto Baseline Road and turn left. Take Baseline Road for about 1-2 miles and Chautauqua Park will be on your left.
City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks