This route is classic front range "up, then down" hiking. The highlight of the "up" part being the segment atop Shanahan Ridge (Mesa Trail - Shanahan Ridge
), from which the views are incredible.
Start at the small parking area on Bear Mountain Drive. In order to get the road section out of the way ASAP, start heading uphill on Bear Mountain Drive (southeast). Next, take a left on View Point Road and then a right on Cragmoor Road to reach the Cragmoor Connector
as it heads to North Fork Shanahan Trail
(stay straight here). Runners will get great views of the City of Boulder and the Flatirons.
North Fork Shanahan Trail
ascends steeply, not contouring at all. Pass Shanahan Connector
on your left and continue straight. Eventually, after the steepest portion, this trail terminates at the Mesa Trail
Turn right onto the Mesa Trail
, which is nestled between Bear Mountain and Shanahan Ridge. After ~.4mi, turn right to head up the Mesa Trail - Shanahan Ridge
to get some sweet views, or turn left to stay on the Mesa Trail
. Shortly after staying on the Mesa Trail
, you'll pass Fern Canyon on your left. Continue down Mesa as it switchbacks steeply past the Bear Canyon Trail
Finally, you'll come to a fork. Take a right here to take the NCAR - Bear Canyon Trail
. Follow this wide singletrack as it winds past the NCAR - Bear Connector
trail on your left and follows Bear Canyon Creek on your right. Once you're past the connector, you're almost to the trailhead!
After some quick downhill hiking, you'll approach an obvious intersection with Bear Canyon Trailhead
, a small connector trail joining the canyon to Bear Mountain Drive. This short trail crosses a stream and may include some mud, so stay on your toes!