I have a confession to make. I have a love affair with Green Mountain – or more specifically – William Frederick Hayden Park on Green Mountain in Lakewood, CO. You see, it all started a couple years ago when I began seeking out trails to run and explore. I’m not sure how I came across this gem, but let me tell you, it was love at first sight – or run – whatever you want to call it.
I decided this morning that I needed to get my affair out in the open. I just felt guilty keeping something so incredible to myself. The single track; the gorgeous vistas; the challenge; there are so many reasons why I love this trail.
I tried to get up this morning early enough to beat the mountain biking crowd – as this trail is a hot spot for them too – and did pretty well, as I only passed several of them throughout my run.
One of my favorite things about trail running is the sound your footfalls make in different terrain. It’s like sitting close enough to home plate at a baseball game and appreciating the noise the ball makes as it smacks the catcher’s glove – which is why I like to get out on the trails with less crowds.
So, here are the stats: William Frederick Hayden Park on Green Mountain has about 2,400 acres of open space and a network of multi-use trails. My favorite route is the Green Mountain trail that ultimately circumnavigates the park and tops out at 6,800 feet at the summit. Here’s a good map to check out. My Garmin tracks the route at 6.60 miles round trip.
I always park and start out at the Florida trailhead off Alameda. I actually think that this is a big reason as to why I love this trail so much: starting out at the Florida trailhead and heading to the left – or clockwise – on the trail route allows for about 3 miles of extremely fun single track to mess around on. There are ups, downs and sharp turns that keep you on your toes, so to speak.
About 3 miles in brings you to the beginning of a mile-long ascent up Green Mountain. I want to say it’s about an 8% grade the majority of the trip up (I’m guessing here), and once you reach the top at 6,800 feet you have 360 degree views of the Western slope, downtown Denver, and even Pikes Peak on a clear day.
The remaining 2 1/2 miles are my favorite. Not only do I get swept up in the scenery, but I feel like I’m flying down the descent back to the Florida trailhead. This part of the route is usually more technical from a footing standpoint, as there lots of rocks on the trail.
Okay, enough talk, check out the pics from my run this morning and make your own judgments!