When it is 60 degrees in February, I have to pull out the hiking boots and camelback. I’ve done this trail before around the middle of April and it was a great hike, long, but good. This was my first hike of the season, and one with a dog hiking buddy. Knowing we would be kind of slow, we left a little after 10 am to make sure we had lots of time to get up and back.
To get to the trail take Hwy 287 west to the Poudre Canyon, it’ll be a left turn onto CO-14. About 8.5 miles in there will be a parking lot to the left and up a steep hill. If you pass a bunch of cars along the right side near a long bridge, you just missed it. The parking lot holds about 20-25 cars depending on how polite people are with parking properly. We went when there was still some ice in spots that made a couple spots unusable. The big pickups barely had grip. With stopping for gas and the drive up, we got there around 11am.
There are stairs on the far side of the parking lot directly across from the bridge. Crossing the river brings you to the trailhead signs and off you go! For the most part, the trail is really clear and well maintained, it has a decent amount of shade. Some spots are narrow which make hiking with a dog that prefers to walk at your side with his own packs kind of frustrating. We eventually set his “saddlebags” over the top of Nomad’s so he would stop tripping.
A little less than a mile in, the trail forks and offers routes for either the Greyrock Trail to the right or Greyrock Meadows Trail to the left. Typically, everyone takes the route to the right. It is said to be easier and follows the stream a little closer. I’ve done that direction first the last time I went, but we decided to go the Meadows route. Honestly, I would recommend doing the Meadows and coming back down the Greyrock Trail, but that’s just me enjoying the easier stroll when I’m tired.
The meadows trail has a couple of switchbacks that take you up the exposed ridge, take a moment to look up from the rocky trail and see the mountains surrounding the canyon. It’s a pretty great view. There’s a couple of tree spots along the climb that are positioned almost perfectly to take a break and look around. The elevation change in this portion is about 1000’, but then it’s a downhill slight switchback trek through trees into Greyrock Meadow and you can see the actual Greyrock beyond. Along the path there’s evidence of the Picnic Rock Fire back in 2004. The area is making a pretty decent comeback and the meadow is a beautiful place to take a break. There’s a giant boulder that I’m really fascinated with for some unknown reason, it’s all by itself.
Less than a half mile brings you back to a fork where the Meadows trail connects back up to the Greyrock Trail, about 3 miles from the first fork. Head left along the Greyrock Summit Trail. This is the slightly tricky part. You’ll hit the rocky and uneven trail; it’s pretty clear at first but about 10 minutes in you start to pause and look for the best way to get over the rocks. This is not a little dog friendly section, and we definitely went off trail. By this time we had joined up with a couple other groups – about 8 of us total.
Hint: There’s a spot where the trail looks like it goes between two large stumps to start circling around the back side of the mountain. This is wrong. If you get to a large fallen over blackened tree that appears like you have to go over/under to continue, stop. Turn around to those stumps and look up. There’s a trail marker and cairns that show the way. After this point it’s mostly scrambling over rocks and trying to stay near the trail markers as much as possible for a short ways.
Eventually there appears a meadow that is mostly a “pond”. The snow was starting to really melt so we had to step into the water to get around trees and brush overhanging the trail. The path takes you around the southeast side with more scrambling over rocks to reach the top. There’s a lake up at the summit with gorgeous views all the way around. We stopped to have a snack and let the pup rest from his own bouldering adventure. The area was big enough for a couple of groups to spread out and have their own space. One couple just got engaged as we arrived at the top!
Taking the Summit trail back down is a little easier than going up, though there’s still some steep spots. Our group took the Greyrock Trail back down instead of the Meadows. It’s about two miles through a tight canyon and drops around 1000 ft in a little over a mile. We actually got passed up by a group with a dog and a girl carrying a macaw, yes, a large parrot. We were impressed that she was able to hold it up the entire time. The Greyrock trail was mostly shaded and was starting to get colder. It seemed like a much faster route than the meadow trail.
We got back to our car around 4pm then headed to Odells for a beer. The phrase “Up a Mountain, Down a Beer,” is a pretty important one in my book. Definitely a trail I would recommend, just make sure you have the time to do it, and a willingness to get a little lost. That’s half the fun!
*Please excuse the phone photos, my camera was not charged for the impromptu trip*