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Greyrock Trail, Poudre Canyon, CO May 11, 2008

June 27, 2008

Posted June 26, 2008

Well, every so often I take the trail up to the top of Greyrock Mountain located in the Poudre Canyon. You can see Greyrock from Fort Collins, it’s not too far away, and it’s just long enough to act as a short preparation trail for other upcoming summer hikes. It’s a fairly popular trail, and you can expect to see people along the trail and on top of Greyrock. My other son, Conor, and I went up the trail a few years back (the last time I had climbed it) and we met a man from Alaska at the peak. So, figured it would be a good early conditioning hike for Will and myself (and it was : )

Before I go any further in the trip’s description, here is my standard comment. Please check my photo galleries here for all the larger and higher quality photos for this trip. The photos in the gallery are a quantum leap in size and quality compared to the little teaser photos I put in this site’s trip narrative.
I have two other links that will help locate the area if you are interested in making the hike yourself. A Google Earth map can be found here. Use the scale bar on the left side of the Google map to help zoom in or out to help locate the area based on where you live. (This link
will direct you to a Google map that shows ALL my trips.)
In order to help you with the actual trail itself, you can use this link to view a topo map of the Greyrock Mountain trail.
All links open a new browser window.

So on Saturday, May 11, Will and I ate breakfast at the Silver Grill in Fort Collins (great food and service) and then headed up Poudre Canyon to the trailhead.

The trail’s parking lot (and most of the “off the side of the road” parking) is on the opposite side of the road from the bridge that you use to cross the Poudre River. Most people are fairly cautious driving up the road (Colorado Hwy 14), but you should keep a close lookout for your smaller children as you cross the road. Once you cross the bridge over the Poudre River, there is a nice sign that marks the beginning of the trail.

I decided to do the “loop” (I always do a loop if at all possible). So, we’d take the shorter (by a mile or so) section going up and the longer (thru the meadow) section going down. We both agreed at the end of the hike that maybe it would have been better to do it the other way around since you have to climb up and over a ridge on the way down after passing the meadow. Funny thing, neither of us really felt like doing any more uphill hiking after getting to the top of Greyrock : )

The trail starts off by following the Poudre river for a few hundred yards. This is a good short hike if you have small children.

It goes through some open areas………..

But also cuts through some more interesting sections with smaller rocks for people to play on : )


Will, we really need a rope for a long pitch like this………..

Nothing spectacular along this section of the trail, but it does have it’s own quiet beauty.

After half a mile or less, you reach the “split” in the trail. To the left is the meadow trail, to the right the trail heads up a canyon. The bottom sign is a little confusing. The top sign is more straightforward and accurate.

So, we headed off to the right. Not more than a few yards up the trail is a rather nice bench that offers a place to rest prior to heading up the canyon.


This is the view from that bench looking back east along the Poudre Canyon ………….

The lower canyon part of the trail follows a stream part of the way. At first the stream bed was dry, but eventually we started seeing a little water. And, there were a few wild flowers along the trail. Not many, but enough for me to get in a few photos.

After half a mile or so, the trail moves away from the stream bed and starts to switch back (gently) up a slope.

I came upon a few more wild flowers along a sunny section of the trail.

Zoom in a little.

After gaining some altitude, you begin to be able to view some of the surrounding mountains. Mostly to the south. As I was looking for some good scenes, I noticed what seemed to be a fire in the distance.

Zooming in a little (well, max actually) shows that it appears to be a small brush fire. Since it never seemed to spread during the day, my assumption is that they were burning some debris that maybe came from the clearing right above the smoke.

Eventually we came upon a “lookout” that provided some good view. Here is Will looking out from the top.

Will waiting on dad : )

This is what Will was able to see. Looking west mostly. Or, ……… maybe north. Hmmm, have I ever mentioned I don’t carry a compass?

A little further up the trail we were able to look west (pretty sure) and see some snow covered mountains.

After a couple of miles of hiking you “top out” into a flat area down at the foot of Greyrock. So, still a ways to go, but at least you can see your final destination. The trail heads off around to the right in the trees. You start to gain most of the remaining altitude once you have gone around onto the back side of the mountain.

Will was happy. And, I was very happy : )

Photo of the rock.

Nice place to take a break. The trail in the background is the one to take to the top of the mountain.

We can do this.

Probably.

Close up of the sign. So, three quarters of a mile to the top of Greyrock from here. And, uh, it is mostly up : ) Also, we took the trail back “via Meadows” (they intersect here). What you need to know is that from here to the meadows is down hill. But, and this is a big “but”, after the meadows you have to climb up and over a ridge before the trail heads downhill all the way to the Poudre River. So, if you are fairly tired after getting to the top of Greyrock (and/or you have kids), you may want to skip the Meadow route (or, come up that way in the beginning). Neither Will or myself were too enthralled with the discovery of going up and over the ridge on the way back down : )

Saw a few nice pasques flowers so had to (just had to) take a photo.

The rest of the way up Greyrock from this point is mostly a steep trail that goes around the bottom of the face to the backside where you can hike/scramble your way up to the peak. It’s actually not hard or unsafe, just not much in the way of photos. Keep your eye on the trail as they have changed it in a few places.

I doubt if it took us much over 30 minutes to get to “Lake Greyrock”. This is a permanent (as far as I know) small lake/pond that sits right below the very summit. Kinda nice. To get to the top most people generally head to the left side of the lake (as seen from this photo) and scramble up the boulders. If you have children, consider looking at the right side (and/or maybe that gully that goes up from the center of the lake) for a easier way. WARNING: The face (read, steep cliff) of Greyrock is on the other side of this photo, so plan accordingly if you have children (or, even for yourself). There is no fence or protected area at the top (or, anywhere else for that matter).


I met this beetle on the way up.

On top at last.

Looking back down at the lake.

Yes, the old man made it also : )

Will zooms in for a slightly off focus (or, am I starting to fade away : ) shot.

This chipmunk came over to make sure we were not dropping any crumbs (and to clean them up if we were).

Here is a pano looking around 180 degrees to the north. Check my gallery here http://www.geoffw.smugmug.com/gallery/5135480_2w8UN to get a better sized picture.

We headed back down by way of the meadow trail. Here is part of the meadow looking west.

After you get over a ridge (which you come to right after you pass the meadow), there are some pretty nice views of the Poudre Canyon as it heads west towards Cameron Pass and the Rawahs.

Otherwise, the trail moves fairly quickly down a series of long switchbacks to the Proudre River.

All in all, quite a nice hike. It gets a little warm in the summer, so (if you do this hike in the summer) start early. Staring early will also get you off the peak during any summer afternoon thunderstorms. This is an excellent conditioning hike early in the season when the higher trails are still covered with snow (and very close to Fort Collins). Our next hike would take us up higher in elevation and be longer in length. But, that’s another story.

– Geoff Weatherford

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. JohnP permalink
    August 11, 2008 5:26 pm

    I was planning on hiking around Cameron Pass, but my hiking buddy canceled, so I decided on a closer hike. With an early start, 9am, I saw nobody until about halfway down the meadows side. I enjoyed this very accurate trail description, especially when I got to the bottom and found out, “I know this guy!”.

  2. August 16, 2008 4:42 pm

    John,

    I’d still suggest checking out Cameron Pass when you get the chance (Blue Lake is a nice hike), but it is hard to beat Greyrock for a “close to home” hike : )

    Thanks,

    Geoff Weatherford

  3. September 12, 2008 8:27 pm

    Great post. Using your blog as a reference, I hiked Greyrock Trail last Sunday. Thanks.

  4. September 14, 2008 5:51 pm

    Robert,

    Very nice blog. Appreciate the link.

    Geoff Weatherford

  5. May 22, 2009 8:16 pm

    Hi,

    Found your blog looking for a nice trail description of Greyrock. Nice to see a blog covering northern Colorado. I will definitely use it as a reference.

    Keep it up.

    • Geoff Weatherford permalink
      May 24, 2009 3:46 pm

      HI Sylvia,

      Thanks for the comment. Greyrock is a great “close to Fort Collins” hike. Particularly early in the season when the higher trails are still under the snow. The Roaring Creek trail (above Rustic in Poudre Canyon is also a nice early trail (once the aspens have leafed out at that elevation). Another close area is Red Feather lakes.

      Anyway, enjoy your hike : )

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