The Bear Peak is a challenging hike that summits one of Boulder’s highest peaks. The summit of Bear Peak offers epic panoramic views of the Front Range, Boulder, and Indian Peaks Wilderness. This is one of Boulder’s best hikes!
From Boulder head south on 93 towards Golden. At a traffic light, head west on Eldorado Springs Dr. (170) until the signs for South Mesa Trailhead and the parking lot becomes visible on the north side of the road (about 1.5mi).
|When to do|
Yes, primitive pit toilet
Out and back
Route Description for Bear Peak
To start the Bear Peak hike, begin the hike from the South Mesa Trailhead and head up the Mesa Trail. Cross a small bridge over South Boulder Creek and hike past an old ranch house.
The trail splits after the old ranch house. At the split go left, onto Homestead Trail. After approximately 1.0mi, Homestead Trail reconnects with the wide and maintained Mesa Trail.
Soon after rejoining Mesa Trail you arrive at a junction in the trail, stay left as you merge onto Shadow Canyon South Trail (the right-hand trail is a continuation of the Mesa Trail). The Shadow Canyon South Trail is also a wide and maintained trail that gradually climbs to the beginning of Shadow Canyon and an old cabin.
Shadow Canyon is a steep and strenuous hike that quickly gains elevation. Large boulders and thick forest make this section of the hike seem secluded and adventurous. Peeking through the trees, you can occasionally spot Devil’s Thumb sticking out, above the rocky ridge above. The steep hiking and switchbacks lead you into a burned section of the forest from a recent wildfire.
Eventually, you reach the saddle between South Boulder Peak (8549ft) and Bear Peak (8459ft). A signpost indicates the way to Bear Peak, taking you right at the T-junction in the trail.
After a little more climbing, the trail becomes rocky as you traverse across the backside of Bear Peak. This exciting section of trail offers expansive views of the surrounding mountain ranges.
The trail ends just shy of the summit. There is a 20ft rock scramble to the top. The scramble might not be for everyone, but don’t worry the views from the end of the trail are just as impressive.
To descend from the Bear Peak, hike back the way you came until the junction with Mesa Trail and Homestead Trail, stay to the right and continue down on Mesa Trail.
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You will need to pay to park at the trailhead unless your vehicle is registered in Boulder County.
Shadow Canyon will retain snow and ice for longer periods of time, so plan your hike accordingly, giving sufficient time after a winter storm for it all to melt.
We love to combine a trip up to Bear Peak with South Boulder Peak. As you descend to the T-junction between Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak go straight, instead of normally going left to head back to your car.
Bear Peak is one of the five tallest peaks along the Boulder Front Range, which can all be linked via the Skyline Traverse.
Bear Peak, with its considerable elevation gain, is considered excellent training for hikers aspiring to step up to the 14ers (Colorado summits >14000ft. above sea-level).
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