One of the great aspects of living in Fort Collins, besides Tour de Fat, hosting stage 6 of the Pro Challenge, the New West Fest and the upcoming FORToberfest, (basically, Fort Collins festivals are all about bicycles, bands, and beers) is living close to some amazing hiking. On Saturday, we hiked to Greyrock Mountain.
We arrived just before 9 am and the trail parking lot was already full, although you can still park on the street. The trail starts with a bridge over the Poudre River. We hiked up the Meadow trail first. Unfortunately, a lot of the forest in this area is burned, which gave me some appreciation into the scale of these fires.
There is a great shaded area for a small picnic at N40 42.27, W105 18.15 (aka Frogger Rock) that also has a nice view of Greyrock mountain. We’ve learned from our Austrian hikes to always pack some summer sausage, cheese, and crackers. The smoked gouda really hit the spot this time!
This hike felt a bit harder than others. I attribute this to the heat (90 degrees F) and not to my increased age 🙂 . In our first day in Lofer, Austria we had a higher elevation gain and then hiked for several more kilometers after that. It was more shaded, not as hot, and at an elevation of 1000 less meters, all of which probably contributed to feeling of difficulty as we have only lived in Colorado for two months.
There was a nice meadow which was lush (for Colorado) that reminded me of the alpine meadows we’ve seen before. While I’m pining for the Alps, I really miss hiking up to a hut where you can get a snack (beer and a pretzel). The vast areas of national parks are great and all, but I feel that the Swiss / Germans / Austrians have learned to co-exist with their forests more than we have.
Lastly, I would recommend wearing long pants on this trek. The trails were overgrown in some parts and despite the heat, I’m glad I kept my pants on 😉 (sorry, couldn’t resist that one…)
The meadow and views of Greyrock are worth the journey. We did not make the trip to the top, but if you do there is a rocky mountain oasis that looks really cool.
Overall, it was just under 4 hours to hike about 9.6km (6 miles). The meadow loop has an average ascent of 11% and the return on the Greyrock trail was slightly steeper at 13%. For the serious hiker, I’m sure this is an easy trail, for the weekend hiker it was moderate but the heat added a challenge (I went through 2 liters, my pregnant wife 3 liters of water).