Hiking Project Logo

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


Your Rating: Rating Rating Rating Rating Rating      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add To-Do · Your List
Zoom in to see details
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 19 votes

#1

in Boulder

#461

Overall
  4.4 from 19 votes
5 Star
47%
4 Star
42%
3 Star
11%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#1

in Boulder

#88

in Colorado

#461

Overall
28 Views Last Month
6,840 Since Dec 16, 2014
Difficult Difficult

0%
0%
0%
0%
95%
5%

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 down toward Boulder from Bear Peak. Boulder is under that lovely cloud, somewhere.
Sep 2, 2019 near Boulder, CO
Looking northward from Bear Peak, with Boulder under a cloud.
Sep 2, 2019 near Boulder, CO
Looking south
Jul 7, 2015 near Boulder, CO
Looking NE down on NCAR
Jul 7, 2015 near Boulder, CO

0 Comments

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Minor Issues 91 days ago
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Feb 24, 2024
Alex O'Connell
Part of ascent of Bear Peak. Quite steep and very icy up high 5mi — 4h 00m
Oct 15, 2023
Stefano Prezioso
Sep 13, 2022
Amber Jeffers
Oct 17, 2021
Michael Calabrese
Jun 2, 2021
Sarah McConnell
Nov 24, 2020
Griffin Mead
May 3, 2020
Mike Sanders
Jul 26, 2019
Alex Rotondo
Welcome

Join the Community

Create your FREE account today!
Already have an account? Login to close this notice.

Get Started