Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gregory Canyon

Distance: 2.6 miles round trip
Elevation: 5,856ft - 6,655ft
Elevation Gain: 800 ft
Dogs: Off leash with Boulder Voice and Sight tag (seasonal leash restrictions apply)
Bathroom at the trailhead: Yes
Fees: Boulder parking
Tags: #Boulder, #OSMP

View of Boulder from the Gregory Canyon Trail
Gregory Canyon in Boulder off Baseline Road is a great trail to work the quads for summer hiking. Short enough to be done after work, it also varies from soft dirt to erratic rock slabs, which trains the eye and ankles.

Looking up at the area from the meadow leading to the trailhead
The start of the trail is a lush riparian environment. Beware the Poison-ivy!
The main trailhead for Gregory Canyon is at the parking lot at the base of Flagstaff Mountain. There is a fee for non-Boulder County residents unless you have a Mountain Parks pass. Be advised, that the parking lot is small and fills up early. An alternative is to park at Chautauqua and walk an extra mile across a pleasant meadow.

For several years the road to the trailhead was closed because of the 2013 floods. It has since been repaired but parking along the road is even tighter than before. Get an early start if you can.

Many sections are on rough rock slabs
Other sections are rock and dirt.
Some sections are flat dirt.
Gregory Canyon starts out low along Gregory Creek where the lush vegetation and Poison-ivy create a humid micro-climate. It is not long, however, before the trail begins to steadily climb up the canyon wall. The trail alternates between steep step-ups, rock scrambles, and level dirt. As the trail switchbacks upwards the views of Boulder and the surrounding plains become more expansive. It is easy to see how high one has risen by looking down into the canyon itself or marking how high one is in relation to the neighboring flatirons.

Looking down into the canyon
Rock formation across the canyon
Ponderosa Pine dominate
At the top of the canyon, the trail levels out and even descends ever so slightly. Here the trail is packed earth. You can continue past this point to where the Ranger Trail meets the E.M. Greenman Trail (an additional 0.45 miles one way and 295 ft elevation gain) and then turn around. You can also make a loop with the Saddle Rock Trail or use Gregory Canyon as a stepping stone to climbing Green  Mountain. 

Lichen growing on a nearby tree
View from the top of the canyon

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