Standing water and mud await your journey on this 15-mile trek through the high-country forest near Cameron Pass in the upper Poudre Canyon west of Fort Collins, Colorado. Even during the driest parts of the summer season, water holes with 36” of standing water are abundant and common. Early season off-roaders will find water even deeper when the trail opens after the spring snowmelt. This is not a technical trail but the risk of getting stuck and actually using that winch for more than a conversational piece is real. Find a like-minded off-roader to go with you and hit the trail for a day of beautiful scenery with a drive through an adult off-road water park.
Green Ridge Trail is the third leg of the three-trail loop known as the “Mud Loop.” Off-roaders will combine Sevenmile Road, Bald Mountain (USFS517), and Green Ridge Trail as a day-long trifecta where you will experience a diet full of rocks, water, and mud. Green Ridge Trail is, by far, the wettest and muddiest in this loop that starts and ends in the Poudre Canyon.
Trail Difficulty and Assessment
Lightly Modified 4X4 (Small Lift and Larger Tires)
This trail has several water crossings that can exceed 36". The water crossing at Waypoint 4 hides a rock that is nearly 24".
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The hardest part of the trail that you
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The hardest part of the trail that is
purely optional - you can bypass it.
Rocky or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 24" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 24" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 54" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep and off-camber.Read More about our Rating System
Green Ridge Trail is a very fun and adventurous trail that travels north along the Green Ridge from Poudre Canyon to the Deadman vicinity near Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. The trail has numerous water crossings with some of them exceeding 36" in depth. The route remains in the trees except where it passes through a couple of meadows. Significant water is always present along the trail which becomes more easily passable later in the season. With the water comes mud. Rocks on this trail can be 18" in diameter with some hidden in the water features. Because this trail travels through a remote mountain area without cell phone service and there is a significant risk of getting stuck on this trail, recovery equipment is a must for this trail. For safety reasons, don't run this trail alone.
Green Ridge Trail, when combined with Bald Mountain (USFS 517) and Sevenmile Road, is known as the "Mud Loop". The Green Ridge Trail leg is the most difficult and could be problematic for beginning off-roaders and stock vehicles.
This trail is very remote with no cell phone service available for miles.
1. Trailhead Green Ridge Trail (0
Green Ridge Trail begins off a small parking area on the east edge of the Laramie River Valley Road. This parking area is a great place to air-down for the adventure. A USFS pit toilet is conveniently located here as well. If there are not too many vehicles parked in this lot, a truck towing a trailer could easily park or turn around in this lot.
2. USFS #177C Intersection - Veer Right (0.56
Veer right. This spur that intersects from the left is marked with the typical USFS road marker. It is a short dead-end route that has opportunities for rustic, dispersed camping. Standing water is commonly found along this trail so choose your camping spot carefully. With all the water during the summer months, mosquitoes found here resemble small birds.
3. Take Left Path (1.31
Stay left. Here you will come across what appears to be an intersection. This non-designated route is a muddy bog. Although it is tempting the "play in the mud", there are plenty of designated places to splash through mud and muck. Please Stay The Trail.
4. Rocky Mud Hole - Continue Straight (1.53
The first obstacle along this trail is a muddy watering hole. This is the first of many others to come. During the dry season, which is late summer or early fall, this bog is about 36" deep. Although this bog has a fairly solid bottom, there are large rocks hidden under the water's surface. This is not the place to make a big splash. Go slow and crawl your way through this obstacle.
5. USFS #177B Intersection - Veer to the Left (1.74
Veer to the left. Off to the right is a 3/4 mile long spur that wanders back and dead-ends at Twin Lakes. Quiet, secluded, and off the beaten path, fly fishing is a great activity to pass the time at these high mountain lakes. Dispersed camping back here will give you the peace and quiet you have been seeking.
6. The Trench (1.92
Veer right. The left path is officially closed by the US Forest Service. This is known as The Trench. At one time, this was the most difficult obstacle on any trail in the area. This was closed because of resource damage. The Trench is deep with thick, sticky mud and very large boulders. Unfortunately, many in the area teardown the road closed signs and still attempt passage through The Trench. Please protect our trails and respect the designated roads. Please Stay the Trail.
The proper path can be found to the right through the trees and around The Trench.
7. Meadow View Twin Lakes (2.72
Continue straight. This is a large meadow opening just to the west of the Twin Lakes. Looking off to the west, the 12,123 ft. Cameron Peak, part of the Rawah Wilderness, can be seen in the distance. Dispersed camping is popular nearby this meadow, especially during the hunting season.
8. Water Pit - Continue Straight (4.35
Continue straight. Like most of the water obstacles along Green Ridge Trail, there is no by-pass here. This water pit has a solid and firm bottom and ranges from 24"-36" deep depending on the time of the year.
9. Rocky Climb (5.85
Continue straight. Not everything along Green Ridge Trail is wet and muddy. Here is a rocky climb typical for back roads in the Roosevelt National Forest. This is not a technical climb, but some of the rocks range from 12"-18". If you brought a stock vehicle this far, please choose a careful path to avoid banging up the undercarriage of your ride.
Dispersed camping in this area tends to be drier, but options are few in the thick forest.
10. Watering Hole (8
Continue straight, no bypass for this water obstacle. This is the deepest of the water obstacles along the road. Although the water is deep, there is a solid and rocky bottom to this watering hole. The water depth is more than 36" here. During the dry season, the water will flow over the bumper of a stock height vehicle. This will test if your vehicle is water-tight or not. Getting water into your air-intake will be harmful to your engine. This is also a bad place to make a big splash.
11. USFS #177A Intersection - Go Right (12.09
Veer to the right. To the left/north is USFS 177A which connects to USFS Road #319. Many people call this Green Ridge Road. It is an easy path that will lead to Deadman Road and can be used as an early exit from Green Ridge Trail. USFS Road #319 is a graded, gravel road that is dry and free from obstacles. If you've had enough water and mud, taking this road might be for you. If you are doing the "Mud Loop" (Green Ridge Trail, Bald Mountain, and Seven Mile Road), then veer right to continue.
12. Trail Ends at Bald Mountain Road (15.1
Green Ridge Trail ends at its intersection with Bald Mountain (USFS 517). At this point, you are near the western edge of Bald Mountain Road. A turn to the left/west will take you to USFS #319 and onto Deadman Road. A turn to the right/east will put you onto Bald Mountain Road with all the rocky sections ahead. There are a couple of bailout options a few miles up on Bald Mountain Road.
The area around the trail's end offers many ample dispersed camping opportunities but tends to be heavily used by ATVs and side-by-sides. Dispersed camping along Roaring Creek Road and Deadman Road are far more popular and can accommodate larger groups.
The southern entrance of the trail is off the Laramie River Valley Road with many formal options to camp. Also, the first few miles of Green Ridge has multiple spurs to some nice camping areas that have already been user established. The USFS has a handful of semi-rustic official campgrounds near the end of Green Ridge Trail along Deadman Road.
If more formal camping with pull-through slots is your style, then the nearest opportunities are found in the Poudre Canyon or near Red Feather Lakes Village. Green Ridge Trail is a great day trip if you are using one of these more civilized camping options.
Fort Collins, Colorado
Head north on 287 from Fort Collins. Turn left onto Colorado Highway 14 (Poudre Canyon) for 52 miles (mile marker 71.6). Turn right/north onto Laramie River Valley Road and head north for 1.5 miles to the Lost Lake parking lot. The trailhead is located from this parking lot and is marked with a "USFS Road #177" road sign.
Green Ridge Trail is only open for 5 months of the year from summer to late fall with a locked gate at the trailhead. The area at Waypoint 6, known as The Trench, is closed but a bypass can be located to the south through the trees. The closure signs for The Trench are often removed by visitors so caution is advised.
I drove Green Ridge from north to south on Sunday, 25 Sept., 2022. It's open all the way through now.
Most of the trail was in good condition. It get's a little thready between Laramie Lake and the top of the ridge, through the fire. There's some low hanging branches (well, less now LOL) and the 2-track is just getting beat back in. The water holes were all fine, not too deep for my Xterra and almost all of them have a solid bottom. I did burry the Xterra up to the body in an optional mud hole at waypoint 11, so be prepared if you try for that one. No pics, we were busy driving.
In the conditions that are out there right now I don't know if I'd give this a 5, more like a 4 to 4.5, but I'm sure it gets harder with more water on the trail and deeper water holes.
Although this trail is scheduled to be open now, the trail remains closed by the US Forest Service because of damage from last year's Cameron Peak Fire. It is not yet known when, or if, this trail will be opened this season for motor vehicles. We will continue to check with the US Forest Service and post details as they become available.
According to the latest update on the Cameron Peak Fire, the fire has burned everything on the southern end of this trail between approximately waypoints 1 and 8. Depending on how extensive the damage from the fire is, it could take years for this trail to be reopened, if ever. The offroad community will need to be active in pressing the Forest Service to reopen this road when it is safe to do so rather than using the fire an excuse to close it permanently.
A large forest fire near Cameron Pass has this trail closed for a while. The fire is called the Cameron Peak fire. You can track information about the fire at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/
As of 08-14-2020, the USFS has a closure order in place for much of the upper Poudre Canyon. Here is a map of the closed areas.
Had a blast. Still a lot of water, but nothing like some of the pictures, I’ve seen from earlier posts. It is a very rocky trail. We had two lifted rubicons with 35s. Those had an easier time, but we also had a stock 4 door Jeep and it did well.
This trail is the remnants of the Hardin Toll Road From Red Feather Lakes to Chambers Lake which was completed in the 1880s or 1890s. More info can be found from the Reporter Herald or from the RFL Historical Society.
The US Forest Service has finally opened Green Ridge trail. I have not yet run the trail this season, but will get up there within a few weeks. Based on my knowledge of the area and the amount of snow from this past winter, this trail will be wet with mud and deep water holes from start to finish.
This was pretty late in the season to be running this trail. The warm, dry fall weather allowed for this trail to be open later in the season than is typical. Green Ridge Trail begins near Cameron Pass and by late October several snow falls make travel impossible.
The route was muddy and rocky. We were able to complete the entire trail without the need to winch. The trail offers a nice variety of forest, meadows, rocks, and mud. A little something for all tastes.
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Mapping Crew - Lower 48
Tim lives and works in Northern Colorado. He has owned and driven 4X4 vehicles his entire adult life including Jeeps, pick ups, ATVs and UTVs. After high school, Tim's first 4X4 was a 47 Willy's CJ-2A with a flat 4 and a 6-volt electrical system. Typically wheeling in Northern Colorado or Southern Wyoming, Tim loves being in the mountains and the back country. Because of a desire to enjoy and promote responsible off-roading and to keep it available for the future, he belongs to a local 4X4 off-road club. Being part of the Trailsoffroad.com community furthers that goal as well.
A love for off-road adventures, camping, fishing, and hunting keeps Tim away from pavement and always exploring. While his wife likes the comfort of a Jeep Grand Cherokee, Tim prefers the ruggedness of the Jeep Wrangler. Although most off-road time is spent in Colorado and Wyoming, an occasional trip to the Moab area is common. Tim will spend the summer going topless and enjoying the value of the great outdoors. Amateur Radio Technician license call sign: ke0npg
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