Greenhorn Mountain Wilderness Trails
Nowhere else among Colorado's wilderness areas does one find the juxtaposition of mountains and plains as in Greenhorn Mountain, where the Rockies meet up abruptly with the Great North American Prairie. Part of the greater Laramide Orogeny that began uplifting these mountains some 65 million years ago, the granite crystalline core of Greenhorn Mountain (and the Wet Mountain Range of which it is a part) warped upward through sedimentary rock. Out on the prairie the rock strata remained horizontal, but as the Wet Mountain anticline pushed upward it tilted nearby sedimentary strata and, today, some of these crazily tilted geologic layers lie like discarded plates along the flanks of the Wet Mountains. The abrupt geologic transition from plains to mountains translates into similarly abrupt ecological transitions. The lowest elevations of the wilderness begin either amid dry pinyon-juniper forests or oakbrush-ponderosa pine forests, depending on your starting point. As the Wet Mountains climb steeply out of the plains, these forests give way, in progression, to aspen and white fir, Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir, and ultimately alpine tundra. Few other wilderness areas contain such a wide range of ecosystems. Greenhorn Mountain offers some of the most remote and lightly used wilderness in the state. It lacks jagged alpine peaks and contains nary a single lake, both of which typically draw visitors. The area is small, steep, and relatively dry, which means that opportunities for overnight and extended loop trips are few. The entire southern half is trailless; for a truly pristine wilderness experience with guaranteed solitude there is no place better than here. Of course, you will have to bushwhack through dense woodlands and unforgiving topography. This trail guide includes descriptions of Bartlett Trail, Greenhorn Mountain, and Greenhorn Trail.
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Directions to: Greenhorn Mountain Wilderness Trailsprint directions
Trail Statistics & Information
|Skill Level||Easy to Moderate|
|Season||Best Spring through Fall|
|Trailhead Elevation||7,600 ft|
|Top Elevation||12,300 ft|
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