Greyrock Mountain – 7,613 feet
Roundtrip/Vert – 7.5 mile loop / 2,500 feet
Route – East Ridge (standard)
Commute to – 1hr 34min
Commute from – 2hr 45min
I used to hike Greyrock Mountain a lot back in the day when my cousin went to CSU. It’s a fantastic loop, arguably one of the finest in the Front Range foothills and what Morrison is to Denver, Bear is to Boulder – Greyrock is to Fort Collins. I hadn’t been up it since 2009 at the least and figured it was time for a reunion. My toenail fungus, which I had ignored basically since college, finally got the best of me lately. After 12 straight weeks of oral Lamisil, the fungus was finally subsiding, but the nail of my right toe had become so deformed that it started to grow in to my toe (ingrown). It eventually became infected and required a minor surgical procedure. I’m usually good with novacaine, but this go around was a little different, as 2 shots of the stuff didn’t do much. Afraid he’d inject too much, the doc apologized in advance, gave me something to bite down on and basically dug out and yanked my toenail off. I hope to never experience that ever again. Anyways, the point is, I was looking for an excuse to get out of the house, but didn’t want to commit to a massive day, specially given the forecast, so Greyrock it was.
The drive up to the trailhead at 6 in the morning is notable as it was void of traffic. A nice sunrise, some Buddy Holly and not a car, cop or speed van anywhere to be seen. I thought that by missing 70, I could evade the Gaperdom that has taken over Colorado in 2015, but I would find out later that day this was not the case. Sauron’s watchful eye is keen on I-70, but it also has a tendency to span in all cardinal directions. It took me 1 hour and 34 minutes from my front door to the Greyrock trailhead and I was on the trail soon after.
The first half of the Greyrock loop is done beside a few reliable water sources that feed in to the Poudre. After crossing route 14, then a well constructed bridge, you parallel the river for a mile, before reaching a junction where you have the choice to start with either the scenic Greyrock Meadows or the most direct Greyrock Trail – it’s completely up to personal preference. I chose to take the more direct trail, but given the intense heat of the later afternoon, I would’ve done the Meadows trail first and take the more direct, shaded trail down later in the day. Side note – apparently there is “plague” in the area, transmitted by fleas or other insects. Just add that to the rapidly growing list of shit to deal with in Colorado these days (I’m not pessimistic at all!).
Soon after the junction, there is a forest service constructed bench where you can take a rest with a view. After that, its a grunt uphill for a solid 1500 feet through wildfire scarred forests from the High Park fire of 2012. The incineration of the forest in this area is unreal. Hillsides for miles are just scorched earth. I got my first view of the Greyrock (see first shot) and hung a right at the trail junction, which leads to the East Ridge standard route. The trail winds around the SE side of the mountain through sometimes lush sections of vegetation that has sprung through the carnage. It’d be cool to see an aspen colony appear here one day.
As you circumnavigate your way around the big rock, you’ll notice cairns scattered all over the place. I’ve always found these to be a tad confusing when using the standard trail to the summit, so I just find fun scrambling opportunities when they present themselves and pick my way up accordingly. The summit of Greyrock is the real treat of this loop. It’s arguably one of the most unique in Colorado. It’s basically its own micro-ecosystem, with lakes, lush fields and even a few camping spots – all of which are koshier. The summit “ridge” is a kind of short, fun class 2+ scramble. Some shots :
Anyways – you get the point. It’s not the alpine you’re used to in Colorado, but just a unique, fun, unassuming area not to far from Front Range. There were a ton of flies on the summit and after reading the plague warnings, I didn’t want to linger too long, so I made my way back to the junction, passing more people as the day grew on. I chose to continue the loop towards the Greyrock Meadows trail – which adds mileage to the day, but is more scenic and worth the extra effort. A few scenics :
On this section of the loop, temps were getting pretty sweltering. This could be one argument to do the Meadows in the morning, summit, then take more shaded Greyrock trail back to car. Despite drinking 80 ounces of water, I was still parched and couldn’t get enough of dunking my head in the abnormally refreshing river. This went on for a solid 15 to 20 minutes. I really wanted to jump in but couldn’t cause of my toe. Amazingly enough, my toe held up better than the toe with a nail – it wasn’t bashing in to the front of my shoe on the descent. Kind of made me wonder what the hell the point of nails are in the first place – I actually thought about ripping all of them off.
The loop, with a 30 minute break on summit and numerous photo ops, took 3:44 and came out to almost exactly 7.5 miles and 2,500 feet. There was a section in the Meadows trail where you descend 500 feet and then regain soon after and that’s when the heat started to get annoying. I suggested the loop to a couple guys on the summit and ran in to them eventually. One of them was not pleased! After a one man, Powerade slugging competition in the parking lot – I made way back to the Fort where a calzone from DP Dough was waiting, along with a Space Ghost IPA from Equinox while I decided my fate on Colorado’s ever so NOT efficient highway system. The one thing I realized about 25 from FC to Denver is, unlike 70, it moves – mainly due to 3 lanes, but its chalk full of retards driving F-350’s 95mph, making up for the fact that their dicks stopped growing after the age of 10. I had to get off at 144th and 25 to re-route to 287 to avoid the backup that formed from downtown all the way to Westminster. There is just no avoiding the quagmire these days.
Anyways – enough of the ranting. A solid day overall and one worth pursuing for a Front Range hike when the forecast up high doesn’t look too great. Thanks for reading.