Well, this was one of those days when I turned an easy three-mile hike into six and a half miles – whoops! I can’t recommend enough downloading the AllTrails map before you go because it’s very easy to get on a wrong trail, which is what I did – several times.
Before I give you all the details on what I did wrong, let me just say this was my favorite mistake I’ve made on a hike because the views were absolutely incredible! Snow capped mountains, valley views, wildflowers, creeks & stunning forests. At every turn we commented on just how stunning this hike was.
My first mistake happened early on, just straight up started on the wrong trail which led us literally straight up. After parking in the lot, we walked toward to the large Trailhead sign and the bridge which brings you to the Amphitheater trail. Don’t start this way! Don’t go over the bridge, instead look to the right and you’ll see the smaller trail sign for Gregory Canyon/Saddlerock.
Ampitheater trail is tough, it’s straight uphill and we had to stop several times to catch our breath. It wasn’t necessarily long, we only went up about a half mile before we reached the Saddlerock trail, that was when we realized we were very far off from our intended Gregory Canyon 3 mile loop trail. We took Saddlerock back down to the trailhead. So before the hike even started, we finished an extra mile, the first half of which was tough!
After going down Saddlerock we finally found the connection to Gregory Canyon! This trail was immediately the gorgeous, wildflower covered trail we’d read about. It was along a creek, purple and yellow flowers scattered all along the way. This trail was a steady incline, but one of the things we loved most was when there’d be a steep part, it wouldn’t last too long. Just when you started to really feel it, you’d be rewarded with a little break of flat trail.
The views get stunning pretty immediately, you’re tucked away in the canyon and looking back the Boulder valley starts to come into view.
When we came to the option to continue onto Gregory Canyon or take Ranger, we decided to take Ranger and do the longer loop away from the road. Gregory Canyon crosses back and forth across the road, which just wasn’t the experience we wanted.
Then came my absolute favorite part of the hike: The E.M. Greenman trail! This part was relatively flat, partially shaded and had the most incredible views of snowcapped mountains! This made the entire hike worth the trouble (and sore legs the next view days!)
Then we were back to Saddlerock, just much higher than the little loop we connected with earlier. Great views, but definitely steep in some spots. There were a couple areas where we were using our hands to slowly get down safely. There’s even a spot with a ladder! Going down Saddlerock was steep, knees were definitely feeling it and not surprisingly I had a few moments of nearly falling as my feet slid on the loose gravel.
So with the addition of the 0.9 miles at the beginning, we clocked in at 6.4 miles nearly three hours later. And damn were my legs sore the next day!