This hike dog-friendly hike is not just a great workout, but will reward you with breathtaking panorama of Boulder and distant view of Denver.

The best advice I can give you? Wake up early to start this hike.

Even though the Bear Peak hike will only take you about 4-5 hours round trip, it will still be advantageous to get off the mountain before afternoon and evening storms might pass through. This is a steep 7-mile out and back trail.

Start at the South Mesa Trailhead. Take Eldorado Springs Drive until there's a dirt road turnoff; take this down from the road to the parking lot.

After your gear is loaded, prepare for a steep climb that will most likely leave you breathless. The trail is easy to follow, but it is strenuous, as you're climbing 2,810 ft. in elevation (a total of 3,000 ft. elevation gain roundtrip).

Prepare for snow on your hike. In the spring or fall, areas of this trail may become wet, but you should still be warm in the Colorado sunshine. Most of this hike is forested, and will offer shade in the early morning.

This is a narrow trail. Watch for other hikers, and if you're bringing a four-legged friend, make sure to keep them close.

It will take you about 2 hours to reach the top, where you might want to hang out and eat some trail snacks. As it gets later in the day, the peak gets quite crowded. Enjoy panorama views of Boulder and look out in the distance to see Denver and surrounding cities.

From the top, head back down the way you came. This trail also connects to the Towhee Trail, Homestead Trail, South Boulder Creek Trail and Big Bluestem Trail.

If you're lucky, you may see some wildlife on your hike, including falcons, hawks, songbirds and mule deer.

After I finished this hike, I relaxed the rest of the day. It's exhausting hiking more than 2,800 feet elevation in one day!

Pack List

  • Water
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Layers
  • Trail snacks
  • In the fall, carry trekkers and microspikes
Show More
RT Distance 7 Miles
Elevation Gain 2810 Feet
Activities Photography, Running, Hiking, Fitness, Rock Climbing
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Groups
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Awesome Hike

This is a great hike, but the directions on getting there in this article can be a little deceiving. You will take Eldorado Springs Drive, but the road eventually turns into a dirt road if you go too far. You will actually be looking for trail head signs on your left or right for the City of Boulder OSMP, it is just a little ways around the curve after the Rocky Mountain Fire Station. The North side is South Mesa and the South side is Doudy Draw Trailhead. DO NOT park in the road, it is illegal and the chances of you getting a ticket are extremely high. Be conscious of signage as well, almost all of South Mesa is closed during the week right now due to restoration work. Also, these trailheads are extremely busy on the weekends, especially in the summer. This leads into my next point, THIS IS NOT YOUR ONLY OPTION TO BEAR PEAK!!! There are several other stunning options. You can hike in through Shanahan Ridge, Cragmoor, Bear Mountain Road, NCAR, or even from Green Mountain West ridge if you are feeling really adventurous! Plan your trip accordingly and make sure you "Know Before You Go!"

11 months ago

Strenuous

This is a great hike! But... it is long and strenuous. Although you will see lots of trail runners coming up and down, I thought this hike was an ass kicker. I brought my parents who are approaching 60 on this hike and we were able to complete it in about 7 hours round trip which included a lunch at the peak. By the end of the hike we were spent, I recommend a lot of water and a very early start as this trail was packed with people.

about 1 year ago

Worth The Effort

Hiked this trail on 3/24/17. Was a beautiful day and a challenging hike. The toughest part of the day was finding my way to the top. Because of the floods a few years ago, many of the trails are closed, requiring you to take alternate routes to the top. The last 1/3 of the hike really ramps up the difficulty, but it definitely worth the extra effort for the views near the top. Highly recommended.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Hike the Big Bluestem Trail Loop

This is a great spot for an easy/moderate hike or trail run. The trail is accessible year round and can often be hiked in winter as well as other seasons.

197 Saves

Hike South Boulder Peak

Starting at the Mesa trailhead, continue a half a mile through a relatively even grade before arriving at the North Fork Shanahan trailhead, which will take you another half a mile on much steeper gr.

239 Saves

Hike the Eldorado Canyon Trail

Eldorado Canyon Trail makes for a great day hike, with great views and a steady, challenging uphill – bring lots of water! For something shorter, try Streamside Trail (1 mile roundtrip), Fowler Trai.

516 Saves