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Length: 3.2 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Why we love it: Score grand views of the Continental Divide on one of the least challenging summit hikes in Boulder’s rippled skyline.
When to go: Spring through late fall or year-round with traction devices or snowshoes
Pre-hike fuel: Just after you exit US-36, stop by the family-operated Brewing Market in the Basemar Plaza for coffee, fresh-baked pastries, or a steaming mug of their spicy house-made chai.
Post-hike buzz: Before hopping back on US-36, snag an icy draft, basket of wings, and the score to the game at the Dark Horse, a quirky sports bar filled with movie props and colorful antiques.
Dogs: Allowed; leashed through Habitat Conservation Area; from the junction with Ranger Trail to the summit, dogs are allowed off leash per City of Boulder voice and sight control regulations.
From the west, the five primary peaks that comprise Boulder’s stunning backdrop look impressively steep, high, and difficult to climb. Fortunately, Green Mountain, the middle peak, has a “sneak” route that accesses the 8,144-foot summit with a modest elevation gain of 600 vertical feet.
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Bypass the crowds (and steeper route) by ascending the mountain’s west ridge from a trailhead high on Flagstaff Road, the winding street that climbs into the foothills north of Chautauqua Park. The easy-to-follow path is ideal for running, snowshoeing, and fun family excursions.
From the Green Mountain West trailhead, the route undulates east through beautiful evergreen forest for nearly a mile to the junction with the Green Bear Trail. From here, stay left and begin climbing in earnest: The path gains most of its elevation in the final half mile. Skip past the junction with the Ranger Trail and continue straight to ascend the short, steep series of switchbacks and high-step to the summit, passing wild raspberry bushes along the way.
Your reward for the climb is a sweeping, 360-degree view, which includes several snow-capped peaks to the northwest, along the Continental Divide. At the top, there are a series of boulders that make great picnic spots on sunny afternoons, as well as a summit plaque that identifies the peaks in the distance. Retrace your steps back to your car.
Getting there: From Denver, take I-25 north to US-36 west and follow this for 20 miles to Baseline Road. Exit here and follow Baseline west. After 1.8 miles, Baseline becomes Flagstaff Road and begins the steep, winding ascent up Flagstaff Mountain. Follow the road another 4.6 miles to a parking area. The trailhead is on the left just behind a sign that says “Leaving City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks.”