Sometimes the mountain does not have to be 14,000 feet for the hike to be awesome! I mean, that should go without saying… but in Colorado, there is an unofficial obsession with the 14ers that really overshadow other hikes. While I like climbing 14ers (in a form of Type 2 fun once I’m back to the car), there is just so much else to explore!
Greyrock Mountain is a 7,616 foot peak comprised of 1.4 billion year old granite in the Roosevelt National Forest in the Poudre Canyon area northwest of Fort Collins. Greyrock Mountain National Recreation Trail takes hoards of hikers to the summit every year. It is a very popular hike due to its proximity to the Fort Collins metro area. The AllTrails link is found here.
A lovely early February weekend beckoned, and eager to show Eric some of the sights in my region, I settled on Greyrock for getting some hiking miles in my legs ahead of the adventurous 2022 I had planned. Mild weather meant conditions would be good and temperatures mild. We would take the Greyrock Summit Trail to the summit, and then Greyrock Meadow Trail back to the car to form a lollipop.
After parking, carefully crossing the highway, we set out on the trail until the junction of the summit and meadow trails at about 0.75 miles in. The late morning sun meant snowy parts on the lower trail were slushy and muddy, and we quickly stripped off layers in the sunshine.
Time to climb up, and up some more, and finally more up!
At 2.5 miles the summit and meadow trails rejoin. For those not wanting to summit, you could just complete the lollipop at this time. From the junction it is another 1.3 miles to the summit.
Gaining the summit, the hike gets a bit spicier as I like to say, with some route finding needed (but not so bad in the winter when there was bootpack to follow), along with scrambling. I did not use the microspikes I brought along, as the snow was grippy enough with my hiking boots, but this could probably change day to day in the winter. Also, watch out for the stabby yucca waiting to shank you! Blood was drawn…
Climbing up to the summit block involved some class 3 scrambling maneuvers at time with exposure, but nothing too insane. During our hike we really didn’t battle the wind until on the summit, which was a bit scary at times with the gusts. However, the view from the summit is well worth the scramble, and makes it seem like you are at a much higher elevation.
The descent was welcomed, and spirits were high as we turned onto the Greyrock Meadows Trail. But quickly we realized that this trail did not get the foot traffic as the main trail, and we were postholing in the steps of maybe like three other people. Then the trail started ascending, and I was whining we were climbing like three other mountains just trying to get back to the car. However, the sun was shining and we didn’t see anybody else, and it was still very pleasant!
Overall, the hike was 8.8 miles according to my GPS file, and we gained 2,871 feet of elevation, mostly on the way to the summit. (But do not underestimate the meadow trail, as it climbs significantly when you’re tired and just wanting to get back to the car!) Total time was 5 hours 32 minutes, including all breaks.
This is a big hike, and despite the crowds, can be remote. Bring plenty of water for a long day out (in the summer/hot months there will not be much shade to be had). I highly recommend proper footwear for this hike, especially if attempting the last mile or so. Microspikes are handy in the winter months, especially once the canyon is in the shade and things refreeze.
Date Hiked: February 6, 2022
Total Mileage: 8.84 miles per Garmin Vivoactive 4s/Strava
Total Elevation Gain: 2871 feet
Total Time Spent: 5 hours 32 minutes
Weather: Mid-30s, sun, and windy
Trail Conditions: Dry or packed snow (icy at the end of the hike)
Cell Service: Spotty service with none until the summit or open areas (Verizon)