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    Bear Peak Canyon Loop Trail

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    12.6 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    878 m
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    Directions to Trailhead

    The Bear Peak Canyon Loop Trail is a challenging but rewarding hike up to one of Boulder’s tallest peaks. Hike through lush evergreen forests up to the summit which rewards its conquerors with dumbfounding views of the Front Range peaks from one side, and sights of the cityscape from the other. This demanding adventure is a must-add to your hiking itinerary.

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    Route Description for Bear Peak Canyon Loop Trail

    Reserved for intrepid adventurers, the Bear Peak Canyon Loop Trail is an awesome summit hike conveniently located just outside Boulder’s city center. Let the fresh air fill your lungs as you trek through sweet-smelling ponderosa pine forests up to the craggy peak. Make sure you wear sturdy shoes because you will be doing some scrambling up to the summit. Wear layers as insurance against cold and windy conditions at the peak and wear microspikes in the late fall and winter to safely navigate the icy terrain. Though this trail can be completed from either direction, we strongly recommend trekking clockwise for the sake of your knees. Note this path is subject to spontaneous seasonal closures, so check the bulletin at the trailhead.

    Embark on your adventure along the Bear Peak Canyon Loop Trail from the NCAR Trailhead. From here, track southwest along the NCAR Trail through the grasslands before entering the evergreen forest. Eventually, you will meet an intersection with the Mesa Trail, keep left here. Hike the Mesa Trail south before confronting another junction. Here, keep left along the Mesa Trail before merging onto the Fern Canyon Trail. The Fern Canyon Trail is the steepest section of the hike. Mind your footing as you ascend the vertiginous terrain, ping-ponging off the walls of the rock outcroppings up to the saddle. Follow the route up to the summit of Bear Peak, where hikers will be required to scramble up to the peak.

    Revel in the sights of the surrounding mountainous wilderness and turn onto the Bear Peak West Ridge Trail. Carefully scale down the summit, and at the next intersection, keep right, and you will be diverted onto the Bear Canyon Trail. Hike alongside the gurgling waters of Bear Creek as you wander through the forested canyon. The route will guide you through the valley, delivering you back to the junction with the Mesa Trail. From here, retrace your footing along the Mesa Trail, reconnecting with the NCAR Trail, which will deliver you back to the trailhead.

    Getting to the Bear Peak Canyon Loop Trail Trailhead

    The Bear Peak Canyon Loop Trail departs from the NCAR Trailhead off the NCAR Road.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground


    • When to do


    • Pets allowed

      Yes - On Leash

    • Family friendly


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    Bear Peak Canyon Loop Trail Elevation Graph

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