Spruce Mountain and Green Ridge

Spruce Mountain and Green Ridge

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 40.48822°N / 105.30014°W
Additional Information County: Larimer
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring
Additional Information Elevation: 7781 ft / 2372 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Spruce Mountain RouteOrange sections are off trail, Red is Green Ridge side trip, Green is Forest Service Road 348, Blue is DR trail, Black is Powerline trail. The remainder of the Bobcat Ridge trails can be found in the external links.

As the search for lower elevation 'warm up' peaks take you to the different corners of the Front Range, Spruce Mountain and nearby Green Ridge are two of Larimer County's forgotten destinations for several reasons. Even after familiarizing myself with maps of the county, Spruce Mountain was one of my last discoveries despite its close proximity with two large cities and a popular open space. See, Spruce Mountain and Green Ridge lie in a Bermuda triangle of sorts, the region between the popular Round, Horsetooth and Greyrock mountains is not well represented on maps and has public access issues. So these two points and many others fall away to other more well known destinations.

Spruce Mountain(7781) with Green Ridge(7402)
2800' Elevation gain over 13.2 miles round trip
Spruce Mountain Summit UTM 13T 0474723mE 4482121mN
Green Ridge Summit UTM 13T 0476600mE 4482400mN

Climbing Green Ridge

In most cases, Green Ridge is the first stop along your route though actually climbing to the highpoint can be done on the way back. The standard route to this rocky point is from the Bobcat Ridge Natural Area, a well traveled string of trails that weave through the charred ridges caused by the Bobcat Gulch fire of June 2000. Though these trails don't particularly lead to anywhere, they do make a good jumping off point to climb Green Ridge.

From the Bobcat Ridge trailhead low in the valley, walk approximately 1 mile along the accessible grade lower loop of the Valley trail to an intersection with a double track road known as the Powerline trail as much of it's route follows the above telephone lines. Walk west on the Powerline trail for another half mile or so to an intersection with the upper loop of the Valley trail. You will not turn off here, but instead follow the Powerline trail up the steep hillside for another 2 miles to Mahoney Park and an intersection with the DR trail. Though the route from here is yours to chose, the path of least resistance will see you travel north on the DR trail for another three quarter miles to a sharp cusp where the trail immediately turns from northwest to northeast at the bottom of a gully.
Green Ridge and 7350The summit of Green Ridge(left) and Point 7350
Summit plateau of Spruce MountainThe Spruce Mountain summit plateau looks like the scene of a bomb detonation. 11 summers after the Bobcat Gulch fire that charred the region, signs of life are slowly creeping back up the mountain

At this point, leave the trail. There is a small sparsely cairn'd trail that heads upstream and eventually to the edge of the burned trees before petering out near the saddle of points 7141 and 7350. From this saddle, climb around the east side of 7350 through the downed trees rather than the steep, thick west side of the point. This will now put you at the saddle between point 7350 and Green Ridge. From here, if you plan to climb Spruce Mountain first skirt around the SW side of Green Ridge or climb over top. Choose wisely. The summit of Green Ridge is a rock rib that juts out from the ground between trees. There is a tiny register wedged into the nearby cairn. Just a stones throw to the west is a large cliff face with open views from N-W-SE, including the high peaks along with Longs and Meeker.

Climbing Spruce Mountain

Whether you chose to skirt the southwest side of Green Ridge or go right over the top, descend to the thicket of trees to the northwest where you will cross the four wheel drive Forest Service road 348. This road will serve as your reprieve from the downed trees as it winds upwards to Spruce Mountain. Walk the road for another mile until you come close to point 7722, leave the road and head directly south for another half mile to the summit of Spruce Mountain. Be warned, as one of the few forested areas along the 13 mile slog, the northern aspects of 7722 and Spruce Mountain will hold snow, especially early in the spring. Want to avoid the snow? Too bad, you can't. Another option is to skirt 7722 at the 7500 foot contour and fight through the downed timber to the saddle between 7722 and Spruce Mountain. However you get to this saddle, rejoice for the end is near. Climb the final 150 feet to the knobby summit of Spruce Mountain where views range in all directions except the east, including a look into the deep Jug Gulch. There was no register found when we climbed the mountain in March 2012.

For the most part you can retrace your steps back to the trailhead afterwards.

Red Tape

Storm Mountain from Spruce MountainStorm Mountain and Jug Gulch
None really to speak of, the entire route is contained in public property. A few suggestions though; if you dislike sunburns, bring sunscreen. Because much of the route goes through burned areas, 90% of the time you are in direct sun. Because of this, I'd suggest you climb these points during the spring or fall. There are very few sources of water along the way, and none are anything more than stagnant. Bring plenty of water.

There is another way to climb these two points, but it will require CDOW to open the multiple gates along FS 153. With good ground clearance and power, you could probably just drive right to the top of 7722 and below Green Ridge, but whats the fun in that? Contact the DOW for information on when they plan to open the gates.
Milner MountainMilner Mountain
Horsetooth Mountain Horsetooth Mountain

External Links

Joe Grim has two great trip reports covering both routes, see the Lists of John profile for Green Ridge and Spruce Mountain. Don't forget to click on his link to photos, they're a great help.
Maintained by the City of Fort Collins who owns the Bobcat Ridge open space, find pictures of the various wildlife caught in their animal cameras. Yes, there are mountain lions.
Find all sorts of info on Bobcat Ridge here, along with a trail map of the area here.
Lots of stuff about the 2000 Bobcat Gulch fire.