Access to the Green Mountain West Ridge Trail is a quick jaunt from Boulder, CO: head up Flagstaff and just over Flagstaff Mountain, just about a 20 minute drive from downtown. From there to the 8,144′ summit is a tame hike of 1.4 miles with an elevation gain of only about 600 feet. Meanwhile, giant panoramas of the back range decorate the horizon including the snowy peaks of Indian Peaks Wilderness Area and Rocky Mountain National Park. Upon reaching the summit, the 360 degree view of the back range as well as the Boulder-Denver area is stunning. The combination of the short drive, moderate trail, and exposure to epic views make this a perfect choice for entertaining visitors.
My brother, sister-in-law, and two nieces have spent several days visiting from California and today, along with Poppy and my daughter, we aimed for the Green Mountain summit. We only made it about 2/3rds of the way up, maintaining an unnerving pace of 31 minutes per mile (when we were actually moving!). Although I’d love to blame our failed attempt on the flatlanders, this adventure represents the farthest distance my daughter has hiked sans piggy back.
It’s a miracle! My daughter slept in!
After tasty blueberry pancakes (thanks baby!!), we pack up and head over to Poppy’s.
After 20 minutes driving up Flagstaff, we edge over the ridge for a view of the beautiful back range. Today is surprisingly hazy, which seems to dampen the awe I expect when gazing West from this elevation.
We hit the trail. The cousins break into a run at the trailhead. Is it the fresh mountain air? Did they sneak an espresso shot at breakfast?
After 30 minutes or so of hiking on a flat and obstacle-free trail, we encounter boulders strewn across the trail. The rocks make for a fun scramble for the kids.
Poppy introduces my daughter to Subalpine Gumweed Plant, what he affectionately calls “sticky bun”. This flowering plant is sticky and fun to play with. Yet contrary to Poppy’s proclamation that sticky bun can be used as a natural glue, research reveals it has some historical and modern day medical applications.
We begin to lose children. One at at time they declare their legs no longer work or they’ve taken up birding and need to stop. The last to drop, my daughter, does a sudden u-turn in the trail with very little explanation – we suspect she can smell the treats being dolled out a couple hundred yards back where her cousins are sitting.
We discover a long log perfect for a family rest stop.
The return trip is not without injury. My eldest niece stumbles twice on the trail. Though the scrapes produce little blood, the abrasion is in the same place on the knee and stings. A quick band aid application seems to alleviate the tears. I use up the two band aids in my wallet. Mental note: create first aid kit.
My youngest niece takes a turn using the binoculars. These prove to be fun and engaging throughout the duration of the hike.
We return to the trailhead and load into the cars. Fun hike!
As we glide down Flagstaff, we pull over and stop on the side of the road to catch one last glimpse of Green Mountain tucked behind (above and right) of the first Flatiron. It seems to beckon for another attempt at the summit.
- Directions (Google maps)
We didn’t make it to the summit but we were pretty close!
- Sun hats
- Snacks (apples, trail mix, raisins/pistachio mix)
- Fleece jackets (in case some storm rolled in)
- Coffee (for the drive up)
- Water bottles (for the trail x 2)
- Camera bag
- Toilet paper in ziplock
- Suntan lotion
- Toilet paper
- Trail runners
- Wish I had: more band aids