Boulder tends to get a few weeks each year where the city has enough powder to use snowshoes right in our own backyards. Luckily, the lofty reaches of 8,144 ft. Green Mountain provide a playground that is suitable for snowy fun throughout the winter -- though sometimes a combination of micro-spikes at the bottom of the trail and snowshoes at the top are best. But if there is a big storm, the snowshoeing potential -- from bottom to top -- is excellent.
What Makes It Great
The standard starting point for winter adventures is the Gregory Canyon Trailhead. As of 2014, the short access road to this trailhead was still damaged from the floods of 2013. Park along the road or at Chautauqua Park for access until it is repaired. It is legal to walk/hike along the closed access road. The best part about hiking Green Mountain is the variety of ways to get to the top. The trails are about 3.2 - 3.5 miles long one way and there are plenty of choices: the steep stairs of the Amphitheater, the gradual grind up Gregory Canyon or the twisty rocks of Saddle Rock. Where these trails merge, the dog friendly Ranger Trail or the hiker-only E.M. Greenman trails will lead to the summit. No matter how you get there, there’s over 2,200 vertical feet to be gained and weather at the top can be quite a bit colder than at the bottom.
Green Mountain is a treat in the winter. Many aspects of the lower trail still have gashes and damage from the floods; covered in a coat of white snow, they take on new shapes and forms. Spectacular views of the Indian Peaks to the west and Rocky Mountain National Park to the north poke through the trees until coming into full focus near the summit. All the trails alternately climb and flatten out, meaning there are plenty of good spots to catch your breath. And because everything but the summit block is in the trees, you’ll be protected from the icy chill of winter winds.
Because it is a mountain hike, bring along plenty of warm layers, a headlamp and a warm thermos of tea. Some sections of the trail can get slick when trodden sections ice over and freeze; put those cleats on your snowshoes to good use in these areas!
Who is Going to Love It
Green Mountain is a true winter adventure -- without the danger of avalanches, tough access roads or tricky navigation. It's a great workout with fantastic winter views, so those who want to get a winter mountain fix without leaving town will love Green Mountain.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From the intersection of Highway 36 and West Baseline Road, turn west onto West Baseline Road and follow it a little over a mile to Chautauqua Park. As of 2014, parking is available along the road or at the park. The Gregory Canyon Trailhead was closed but will reopen in the future. To reach the trailhead, walk along the road west to a bend. Gregory Canyon Trailhead is blocked to vehicles but is signed and can be accessed by foot.
Dog regulations vary from trail to trail but they are allowed. Dogs with city of Boulder off-leash program tags are allowed off leash in certain areas. Please consult this map to see what areas are on-leash and off leash.