Gregory Canyon Loop | Chautauqua Park | Boulder OSMP
Boulder, CO | 02/02/20| 5.15 miles | 1,558′ gain
After a couple unsuccessful summit attempts (see my previous two posts), I needed a hike that I knew I could finish. We were going through a heat wave on the Front Range so I knew the trails in Boulder would be mostly snow-free. I met up with my friend Tori to do a moderate loop in Chautauqua Park, one of the most popular Boulder hiking destinations. We got there just early enough to get a decent parking spot.
I didn’t feel like paying for parking so we parked about 1/2 mile away from the Gregory Canyon Trailhead along Baseline road. This area is free to park in the winter and the Baseline connector trail easily led us to the trailhead.
We regrouped at the Gregory Canyon Trailhead and decided to head counter-clockwise around the loop. (This provides a more gradual uphill, but the downhill sections are extremely steep.) We were on the Gregory Canyon Trail, which steadily made its way up and up…and then some more up. We threw our microspikes on for the handful of icy sections, but much of the trail was completely dry.
The views looking out of the canyon were great as we climbed, and we found a nice overlook for a snack break. I mentioned earlier that this was the more gradual way to do the loop…but it’s still really steep. Also I’ve gotten out of shape.
After 1.1 miles up Gregory Canyon, we took a left on the much flatter Ranger Trail, then another left on the E.M. Greenman Trail. It was here that we reached the high point of the trail, and after that everything was downhill!
We’d had our spikes off for a while but definitely needed them for the descent. The steep, icy sections would be treacherous without spikes, and yet a number of people didn’t have them at all!
We took another left onto the Saddle Rock Trail which would take us all the way back to the trailhead. Apparently Saddle Rock isn’t even visible from the trail, and the rock I called Saddle Rock all day is actually the 1st Flatiron.
Other than the above view, the Saddle Rock Trail is mostly in the forest, and we constantly had to watch our footing since most of the trail was steep and icy. Once of the more interesting aspects of this trail is the ladder. It’s not scary or anything, but it’s pretty weird to climb in spikes! They do have a slope that dogs can use next to the ladder, but it may be pretty steep for some dogs. (Otis did fine!)
Overall I really enjoyed this hike, and it was even hard enough that I was sore after! The range of views and differing terrain all made this hike one I would definitely do again some day!