The Grays Peak National Recreational Trail resides in the Lincoln National Forest. This hike is not long, but it's rocky and strenuous, so be sure to observe yourself and Fido for fatigue and rest often, drinking water consistently. You'll come upon occasional streams if you run out of your own, but pre-treat it before drinking. The trailhead, three miles from the highway turnoff, features a vault toilet, but there are no amenities at trail's end.
One of the bonuses of the Grays Peak Trail is that you can hike two mountains in one day! After reaching the summit of Grays, continue for about a mile along a saddle between the peaks to Torreys Peak. Both peaks are among the 58 US mountains over 14,000 feet, and known as The Fourteens. Even with a rest, taking in the views and eating lunch, this out and back hike takes only about 7 or 8 hours.
Speaking of views, the ones from the trail and at the summits are spectacular and include hundreds of miles of the Continental Divide and surrounding area, including Kelso Mountain and Mount Edward. The very steep and rocky trek to Grays Peak and its twin Torreys Peak is well worth the effort! While the traffic can be heavy on summer weekends, there is ample room at the top to enjoy your success.
The pre-summit part of your hike crosses tundra above the treeline, which in summer features beautiful wildflowers like colorful moss, alpine forget-me-nots, sea pinks and mountain gentian. Part of the trail goes through the wetlands of Stevens Gulch, where you'll find willow trees and water-loving flowers and plants. Wildlife includes mountain goats, elk, mountain lions, and coyotes, along with ptarmigans and Canada Gray Jays. Squirrels can be found foraging below the treeline.
The weather here is prone to sudden changes, sometimes with fierce winds and lightning storms. Starting out early will have you back to the trailhead before the afternoon storms arrive. The summit is likely to be cold and windy, so you might consider layers for yourself and a coat for your furry bestie.
If you assess your own and your pup's fitness and determine you can do this trail, your rewards will be furbulous, and you'll have conquered one of the easiest of The Fourteens!