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Fern Canyon Trail

Difficult
 4.4 (17)

A steep, technical ascent to Bear Peak from the Mesa Trail.


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Map Key

1.4

Miles

2.2

KM

Point to Point

8,413' 2,564 m

High

6,382' 1,945 m

Low

2,031' 619 m

Up

0' 0 m

Down

28%

Avg Grade (16°)

59%

Max Grade (31°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Description

In just under a mile and a half, Fern Canyon Trail ascends over 2,000 feet to the summit of Bear Peak. Obviously, this trail is steep!

Starting from Mesa Trail, Fern Canyon climbs into the woods through a series of switchbacks and water bar stairs. After a short period, the grade backs off significantly - but don't be fooled. After Shanahan Mesa merges from the left, Fern Canyon gets very steep. Enjoy increasingly dramatic views as you ascend and check out the cool rock formations of the Boulder Flatirons.

Eventually, the trail will level out in a saddle and you'll be presented with amazing views of Bear Canyon, The Flatirons, Green Mountain, Boulder and the Continental Divide. This is a great place for a snack, but don't dwell for too long as the views only get better.

Follow the trail to the south for the final approach to Bear Peak. From here, Fern Canyon turns into more of a rock scramble, but it's a great workout and the summit is well worth the work. When you pop out at the top, you'll know it. Scramble up the boulder field to the true summit and take in the 360-degree views. On a clear day, you can see as far south as Pike's Peak and west to Winter Park and the Continental Divide. To the north you might glimpse Longs Peak, Lyons and Fort Collins, and to the east it seems like you can see to Kansas City.

From here, scramble off of the boulder field summit and pick your route down. You can either retrace your steps down Fern Canyon or Bear Peak West Ridge. If you want to stay high, head south on Bear Peak to South Boulder Peak and then head down Shadow Canyon Trail.

Contacts

Shared By:

Brian Smith

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 17 votes

#1

in Boulder

#519

Overall
  4.4 from 17 votes
5 Star
47%
4 Star
41%
3 Star
12%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#1

in Boulder

#95

in Colorado

#519

Overall
134 Views Last Month
5,660 Since Dec 16, 2014
Difficult

0%
0%
0%
0%
94%
6%

Photos

Bear Peak panorama
Jun 27, 2015 near Boulder, CO
The Continental Divide from Bear Peak in Boulder, CO
Aug 17, 2019 near Boulder, CO
Looking south
Jul 7, 2015 near Boulder, CO
Looking NE down on NCAR
Jul 7, 2015 near Boulder, CO
You'll catch a great profile view of the Boulder Flatirons from the summit of Bear Peak.
Jun 18, 2017 near Boulder, CO
The views don't disappoint heading down from Bear Peak.
Jun 18, 2017 near Boulder, CO

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Check-Ins

Jun 2, 2021
Sarah McConnell
Nov 24, 2020
Griffin Mead
May 3, 2020
Mike Sanders
Jul 26, 2019
Alex Rotondo
Jun 16, 2019
Brandy Coffey
May 18, 2019
Kristy Dickens
Oct 19, 2018
Micaela Burrow
Sep 12, 2018
Lyman Chapin
555.8mi — 2h 30m