There are some hikes I never get sick of no matter how many times I do them. The hike between the first and second Flatiron in Boulder, Colorado is one of those standout hikes.
It’s not easy. And part of it is not on a map. But don’t let that dissuade you. It offers first rate scenery, a great workout and on at least half the hike you’re likely to have the trail to yourself.
Let me walk you through the hike – beginning in Gregory Canyon at the far western end of Baseline Road, just before the road starts climbing Flagstaff Mountain.
The hike starts off easily enough at the end of the Gregory Canyon parking lot. The first half mile or so has loads of poison ivy so it’s not worth venturing off the trail. I always wash my legs and hands well with soap and water the minute I get home just in case I’ve touched it.
At the first intersection take the trail to the left marked Saddle Rock Junction. You can’t miss it.
The trail climbs relentlessly. About a quarter of the way up you hit another junction. Keep to the right on the Saddle Rock Trail. If you turn left, you’ll end up doing a loop and will be back at the parking lot in 15 minutes. Don’t wimp out here!
There’s a viewpoint about a third of the way up and then this section of the trail which stays shady.
For three quarters of the trail the route is very easy to follow. The slightly more challenging route finding section comes when you pass a marker pointing to the Saddle Rock Trail, with no other named trail on the marker. Stop. Look straight ahead. You can see a trail – they just haven’t named it. It’s not hard to follow but on occasion you need to look before you move as it’s a jumble of boulders and logs.
At the top of the trail wander around the jumble of boulders. Descend about fifty feet on the other side on an obvious trail, park yourself on a rock and admire the back views of the Third Flatiron.
The trail down has a totally different feel to it. First off the city noise hits you as you hop over a rock and start the descent. It’s an assault on the senses and it grates on me every time I hike it. From the saddle head hike down on a badly eroded trail shared by climbers and hikers alike.
There are a few points along the way where you can peer over the second flatiron. For some – it’s a holy shit moment as they look way, way down. The view do the First Flatiron feels a little airy too. But the trail is not. It’s a series of switchbacks.
Once past the boulder field you’re almost down.
The walking gets positively easy at this point. If you end up at the ranger cottage and you parked at Gregory Canyon just walk back along the road – it’s only about 10 minutes away.
Have you ever been to Boulder, Colorado?