It’s no secret that Boulder’s Open Space offers a myriad of breathtaking, awe-inspiring, Instagram-worthy views. The problem? Many of them require hours upon hours of hiking, and, though we love our long hikes (check out my recent long Boulder hike piece), we don’t always have time for them. After all, there are breweries to visit, bike paths to explore, waterways to tube, and, oh yeah, work. Enter Green Mountain’s West Ridge Trail. This unassuming trail clocks in at just 1.3 miles long with 600 feet of elevation gain, but it will get you from “whatever” to “wow” in about an hour (round trip). Green Mountain West Ridge is your quickest route to a major Boulder summit with spectacular views of the city, the plains, and the mountains. Until recently, this trail was relatively unknown and little-traveled, but read on to find out why it’s quickly becoming a favorite among Boulder’s avid hikers.
As always, consult OSMP.org for trail information and maps before heading out.
Drive 5 miles west on Flagstaff Road until you see the sign on the left that reads “Leaving City of Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks.” The trailhead is behind this sign. There is street parking right across from it. Please avoid the private driveway adjacent to the trail. (Note: Flagstaff Road is under construction at this time, and closed to non-residents on weekdays from 8:30 am – 3:30 pm.)
Hiking the Trail
Green Mountain West Ridge begins with an airy walk through a sparse evergreen forest dotted with a variety of wildflowers. Keep your eyes open for wild raspberry bushes when in-season.
At .3 miles, the trail begins a gentle climb as you enter a denser forest. Ground squirrels and chipmunks scurry among the boulders and low shrub. Woodpeckers, chickadees, and nuthatches hunt for insects above in the trees.
As you follow the trail in deeper, you’ll see sweeping views of Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak to the south. Take a moment to soak it in. From most other vantage points within city limits, Bear Peak obscures South Boulder Peak, so this is pretty special.
The trail rolls up and down for the next half mile and then develops into a consistent climb. You’ll pass through two junctions: Green Bear Trail at .8 miles and Ranger Trail at 1.1 miles. The final stretch is a short but steep series of rocky switchbacks. At 1.3 miles, you’re there.
Bagging the Summit
You’re on the summit of Green Mountain (8,144 feet)! Scramble up the giant boulders to get to the true summit, where you’ll find a summit register and a marker with the names of the 12’ers, 13’ers, and 14’ers to the west. Breathe deeply and enjoy your 360-degree views as far as the eye can see. You may not have climbed the mountain in its entirety, but you had a nice workout and took in some killer views. Take your selfie, turn around, and reluctantly head back down toward civilization.
Happy trails, Boulderites!