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Bear Peak

 4.5 (74)

Length


5.7 Miles 9.2 Kilometers


2,524' 769 m

Ascent

-2,527' -770 m

Descent

17%

Avg Grade (9°)

71%

Max Grade (35°)

8,370' 2,551 m

High

6,113' 1,863 m

Low

Shared By Brian Smith

Conditions


Bad / Closed 70 days ago
The Bear Canyon trail is closed through November 2018 but Fern Canyon is open. History

Getting forecast...

A must-do hike for Boulder locals and visitors alike!

Brian Smith

Dogs Leashed

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

Overview

From South Boulder, this hike will take you to the top of Bear Peak (8,459 ft.) and back - an elevation gain of over 2,700 feet! Hikers are rewarded with an amazing workout and some of the best views around! Get ready for about six miles of beautiful, leg-burning trail and a great time.

Description

From the street parking along Bear Mountain Drive, make your way to the Bear Canyon Trailhead and start out on the trail. Cross a stream (can be running quickly in the springtime or after rain) and turn left onto NCAR - Bear Canyon Trail. Follow this wide and flood damaged doubletrack up into Bear Canyon for about a mile until it merges with and becomes the Mesa Trail.

Cross the stream again and put your head down for a steep climb up the wide Mesa Trail. At the next junction, stay left on Mesa Trail as Bear Canyon Trail continues straight and on a much more level grade. Power up another half-mile or so of Mesa Trail and look for the Fern Canyon trail to diverge from the right side of the road.

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 Trail 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 then anything, 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 begin the technical descent back the way you came. To add more mileage and lessen the grade (slightly) on the way down, you could follow the Bear Peak West Ridge trail to the Bear Canyon Trail.

Another great option from the summit of Bear Peak is to continue on to South Boulder Peak. The views from Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak are incredible. On clear days (which are most), it's possible to see the front range all the way from Pike's Peak to Long's Peak. When you get to the top of Bear Peak, you're going to want to scramble up the rocks to get the good views. Then you can head back towards the trail but instead of heading back the way you came, you'll notice the trail continues around the peak and you can take the ridge all the way to South Boulder Peak as well.

Flora & Fauna

This route ventures through various ecosystems along the way. Starting in chaparral vegetation, you quickly transition into a densely forested environment before finishing in a rocky and exposed mountain top setting.

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Your Check-Ins

Check-Ins

Oct 20, 2018
Marian Van Vlack
Sep 12, 2018
Lyman Chapin
The Bear Canyon access to Bear Peak is closed through November 2018, but Fern Canyon is open. 5.8mi — 2h 30m
Sep 8, 2018
Heidi Jewett
Sep 6, 2018
Toni Stone
Sep 3, 2018
Amy Nguyen
Aug 29, 2018
AnneMarie Kemp
Aug 14, 2018
Dave Lane
very steep and rocky but worth the hard work to get to the top. 6mi
Aug 5, 2018
Claire Milligan

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 74 votes

#16

Overall
  4.5 from 74 votes
5 Star
55%
4 Star
43%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
1%
Rankings

#5

in Colorado

#16

Overall
1,258 Views Last Month
36,817 Since Dec 24, 2014
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

0%
3%
6%
53%
36%
2%
Christopher Soper
Northglenn, CO
Christopher Soper   Northglenn, CO
I tried to hike this today, June 3, 2017 and the trail was closed. It's somewhat misleading because the sign said it was only closed Monday through Friday, but apparently that's not accurate. Jun 3, 2017

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