A perpetual favorite of locals and visitors alike, this easy 3.4-mile loop ride, run or hike around the 6,854-foot mesa of Green Mountain serves up superb mountain views and springtime fields awash in colorful blossoms. Even though it’s just 20 minutes from downtown Denver, the trail offers the chance for some full-on nature immersion. With plenty of options to lengthen the route, it’s perfect as an early morning or late evening adventure. Add it all up, and you have the perfect trail for busy people. Start at the trailhead for William Frederick Hayden Park (elevation 6,080 feet). To get there from downtown Lakewood, head west for 2.8 miles on W. Alameda Ave. Veer south (left) onto W. Alameda Parkway and follow it for 1.7 miles. Just after passing Florida Drive on your left, turn right into the William F. Hayden Green Mountain Park Florida parking lot across from Green Mountain Recreation Center.
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From the parking lot, take the right fork of the Green Mountain Trail to begin climbing steadily on an old jeep road that passes through an open slope teeming with spring and summer flowers.
2. Pass the Gate
After ascending one large switchback, the trail passes an old gate and then levels to cross a green grassy slope.
3. Hayden Trail
When you reach the intersection with the Hayden Trail, continue straight and stay on the Green Mountain Trail. Look across the valley to your left for a glimpse of where the trail is headed. Pass a trail closure sign (stay off that trail) and continue following the path as it continues to climb.
4. Summit Loop
When you reach the junction with the Summit Loop Trail, veer left to continue following the Green Mountain Trail and pass a radio tower. Before cruising past, take a moment to look behind you for a stunning view of Denver and the unique, jutting geologic formation of the Dakota Hogback. Views of the snowy summits of Mount Evans, Pikes Peak and Longs Peak dominate the horizon.
5. On to the Hayden Trail
Turn southeast (left) at a junction to pick up the Hayden Trail, which angles back sharply as it heads downhill. Turn left, and begin curving southeast. Across the valley, you’ll get awesome vistas of red rock features reward as you begin to head down.
6. More Descending
Curve left to pass another trail closure sign and continue around the bend heading downhill. Pikes Peak stands like a sentinel straight ahead. Turning another corner, the trail snakes back into the wild, making you feel much farther from civilization than you are.
7. Green Mountain Junction
At a junction with the Green Mountain Trail, stay straight and continue downhill on Hayden Trail.
At the bottom of the hill, reach an unsigned junction and go left, passing through a meadow before returning to the parking area.
Options: For a shorter journey, turn left at the first intersection with the Hayden Trail (#3), this makes for a 1.6-mile loop. For a longer adventure, explore the Summit Loop (#4) or continue straight on the Green Mountain Trail (#5), extending your trip to 6.5 miles.
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