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Shanahan Ridge

  3.5 ( 16 ) Favorite


3.9 mile 6.3 kilometer loop


Ascent: 831' 253 m
Descent: -831' -253 m
High: 6,504' 1,982 m
Low: 5,672' 1,729 m


Avg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 22% (13°)


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Trail shared by Tom Robson

A straightforward hike on some of the best trail Boulder has to offer.

Tom Robson

Features Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife

Please check bouldercolorado.gov/osmp/cl… for closure data.


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!

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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Flora & Fauna, History & Background


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Sep 17, 2019
Danielle McGill
Jul 20, 2019
Anna-Lisa Bjorklund
Jun 15, 2019
Nick Barendregt
Nice quick hike; pretty crowded and not as scenic as I was hoping. 3.9mi — 1h 13m
Jun 15, 2019
Marian Van Vlack
Jun 2, 2019
Kelly Mead
May 16, 2019
Lindsey Benkelman
Beautiful trail- took a few wrong turns but still loved it! 4.2mi — 1h 40m
May 4, 2019
Kevin Botka
Dec 31, 2018
Jessica Ermak
Got a bit lost in the development section, and dogs got cold around mile 3, but otherwise very good. Dogs enjoyed being off leash on a mostly wide… 4.3mi

Trail Ratings

  3.5 from 16 votes




  3.5 from 16 votes
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in Colorado


132 Views Last Month
6,047 Since Dec 17, 2014



Bear Peak, the Goose and the Seal with permission from BoulderTraveler
Jan 8, 2015 near Boulder, CO
South Boulder Peak with permission from BoulderTraveler
Jan 8, 2015 near Boulder, CO
The Mesa Trail overlooking NCAR and the valley below. Dogs are allowed off leash if they have their Blue tags
Apr 13, 2015 near Boulder, CO
A nice trail into the Boulder foothills.
Apr 8, 2017 near Boulder, CO
A boulder in a green meadow below Dinosaur Mtn with permission from BoulderTraveler
Jan 8, 2015 near Boulder, CO
Bear Peak wasn't named randomly. Mama and 2 cubs on the route today.
Aug 7, 2017 near Boulder, CO


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