page contents

Green Mountain West Ridge (B.4)

Description: Shhhh!  Don't tell anyone!  Although the day we hiked there were several groups of college students on the trail, Green Mountain West Ridge Trail seems to be a bit of a hidden Boulder gem.  If you want to hike your way to the top of one of Boulder's big peaks (Green Mountain, Bear Peak, South Boulder Peak - all over 8,100') the west ridge approach to Green stands alone as the easiest approach.  However, I do not mean to imply it is easy, because it's not.  But, if you long for unparalleled views of the Continental Divide, the north Foothills and downtown Boulder, this hike is definitely worth the sweat and sore knees.  

Difficulty: Intermediate (B.4), 3.0 Miles, 830' Elevation, 2.5 Hours  As the trailhead sits at just under 7,700' you could be forgiven for thinking this is a simpe hop, skip and jump up to the top of Green's peak at 8,144'.  Ah, if only it were that easy.  First, the trail starts out with three different descents/ascents just to get you warmed up for the final 0.6 miles that climb a whopping 500' to the summit.  This last section is mostly rocky steps that can be quite steep, consisting often of large stones that make for some serious high-stepping.  The ascent and subsequent descent can be taxing on those with weaker knees.  And while hiking poles could certainly help on the approach, they could equally be a detriment on the return as pole tips could get caught between rocks pulling you off balance.  Take care if you use them.

Green Mountain West Ridge elevation profile

Driving Directions: 4878 Flagstaff Rd, Boulder, CO 80302.  25 minutes from downtown.  Head south to Baseline Rd.  Turn west.  Baseline turns into Flagstaff after Chautauqua Park and the road starts a steep climb.  After 4.6 miles on Flagstaff Rd you will come to the trailhead (on the left) at the point where Flagstaff Rd starts to drop down into a neighboring valley toward Walker Ranch.  There are lots of cyclists who climb Flagstaff Rd so please be careful and obey the 20 mph speed limit.  Google Map directions here...

Parking and Trailhead: Somewhat limited parking is available along Flagstaff Road, but you should be able to also park on Bison Dr just beyond the trailhead.  The trailhead is on the left side of Flagstaff Rd. and is marked with a large information and map board.

Click image for Green Mountain detail in Google Maps

Click image for Green Mountain detail in Google Maps

Trail Guide:  Heading east along the ridge toward Green, the trail starts out wide and smooth, weaving in and out of groups of Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine but letting in lots of sun.  Quickly though, the trail begins a gradual 100' drop down into a shaded area on the side of the ridge and then quickly rises back up.  You will rinse and repeat this process a couple more times over the first 3/4 of a mile.  With steep rock slabs and steps, the second descent is the toughest.  Take extra care to avoid slipping.  Along the way you will pass the Bear Peak connector trail on the right, which is well marked.  Just stay straight toward Green on the wide trail.  At about the 0.9 mile marker things begin to get interesting.  You've no doubt by now noticed the peak of Green in front of you on the trail and over the next 0.6 miles you will rise up to it, gaining almost 500'.  It's certainly doable, but it is steep and contains many, many sets of rocks steps, some of them large.  Take your time and rest often as it continues to get steeper and rockier as you approach the summit.  At the 1.3 mile point you will meet Ranger Trail rising up from Realization Point and connecting to the West Ridge trail from the left.  Continue straight and up toward Green's peak.  From here on it is very steep and rocky, but you are almost there, so don't give up!  The views are worth the effort!  At the top, you will see a built up stone post on the large rock at the summit.  This is topped with a metal disk with points identifying the peaks along the Continental Divide to the west.  

After a good rest, some snacks and lots of fluids, head back down the way you came.  Be very careful on the steep sections of the trail, use handholds as available, and take care if you are using poles not to get them hung up in crevasses.  Go easy on the knees!  You'll want to preserve them for another great hike in a day or two!

Map Resources:  Probably one of the reasons West Ridge is still such a secret is that it really doesn't exist on any of the Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks maps.  It is referenced on their interactive map, but even that has no description or information about the hike.  The good news is that you really don't need a map for this hike.  Head straight east toward the peak of Green and you are good to go.

Après Hike: I've never been more happy than now to be able to say that the town of Lafayette is in Boulder County.  Because, now that we've discovered Liquid Mechanics Brewing, which opened in the summer of 2014, I've been pining for another hike on Beyond Boulder so that I can put them in a place of honor.  They are wrenching out some great suds over at the 'Mechs' and offer a relaxing vibe of a venue to enjoy their craft.  In honor of my wife Linda, who made the hike with me, I'm recommending their Kolsch ale, a variant on the clean, crisp lager famous in Cologne (Köln), Germany.  Kolsch is her favorite beer.  Liquid Mechanics is located at 297 US 287, Lafayette, CO  80026.

Picnicking: None, but both Flagstaff Hill and Meyer's Homestead are close by with grills and tables.

Restrooms: Only in the trees, Louise...

Dog Friendly: Yes.

Cell Service: Spotty.