There are very few legitimate hiking trails in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and those that do exist are either extremely short or extremely steep. The trail to Green Mountain is one of two exceptions to that rule on the north rim, and it is more popular than its counterpart, Deadhorse Trail, on the east side of the park. This is primarily due to the the overlook at Exclamation Point and the wide views of the canyon and surrounding countryside at Green Mountain.
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is not a hiker’s park. That being said, Green Mountain showcases the best of the canyon that can be seen from its rim. The trail rolls gently from the North Rim Ranger Station, descending through a scrub forest of juniper, mountain mahogany, and Douglas fir. Even in the fall there are splashes of wildflowers along the trail. At approximately 0.75 miles into the hike an informal overlook opens over the canyon toward a prominence to the south on which the North Rim Campground is perched.
In another half mile, take the spur for Exclamation Point and soak in vertiginous views of the canyon, the canyon floor, and the Gunnison River. This is one of the best vantage points in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and it can be a real challenge to photograph. Pick your poison: sunrise and sunset photographers will find the deepest parts of the canyon in shadow, and those shooting in the middle of the day will be plagued by the high contrasts that accompany the mid-day light.
Green Mountain is roughly 2 unremarkable miles from Exclamation Point, and while the hike there is relatively uneventful with the exception of the short ascent of the mountain itself, it does provide a unique vantage point of the canyon in its own right. Extending to the east like a giant tear in the earth, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison appears, from the summit of Green Mountain, like the hands of nature gripped the San Juan and Sawatch mountain ranges and pulled. The close proximity of its north and south rims are obvious here; the canyon floor is hidden from view, deep below.
The hike to Green Mountain is a long way to go for an awe-inspiring view of the canyon, especially with so many overlooks along North Rim Road. Hikers who venture there, however, will find themselves awed anew, and everyone else will find a very rewarding trail run.