Hike to Mars Blocks

Rate this Adventure 4.6 miles 1800 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Annie Rumbles

No matter what season, this hike is a local goldmine.

The Bear Canyon Trailhead is just one of many starting points for this hike, one could also start at NCAR, North Fork Shanahan, or any point on the Mesa Trail. For the purposes of this adventure, I'll start at Bear Canyon Trailhead in South Boulder. This hike will take you about 2-4 hours depending on time of year and conditions (another hour or so if you want to go all the way to Bear Peak).

Head up Bear Canyon Trail to where it connects with the Mesa Trail (1.0 mi.), keep left on this trail. Shortly after these trails connect you will have to cross over a creek, be careful crossing this creek. This creek crossing was very beat up during the 2013 Boulder Flood, along with many others, and it is a bit trickier to cross than it once was, so proceed carefully. After safely crossing, you will come to a fork (0.4 mi.) that splits: Bear Canyon to the right and Fern Canyon (via the Mesa Trail) to the left - both directions can get to Bear Peak, but for this adventure I stick with Fern Canyon. After another 0.4 miles, another fork will indicate where the Mesa Trail continues on to your left and Fern Canyon to your right, you guessed it, take the Fern Canyon exit.

Now prepare for some butt-busting "stairs" to reach Mars Blocks - a saddle point on the mountain that gives you a new, and lovely, view of the Flatirons from the side. The rocks at this false peak are called Mars Blocks, but if you continue on another half-mile up the mountain you will reach Bear Peak. Proceed with extreme caution during the winter as the final ascent is quite steep - I wouldn't suggest this unless you are very well prepared with crampons and hiking poles. At any other time of year, this final stretch is very manageable, but tough.

If you do continue on to Bear Peak (an extra ~1,000 feet elevation gain), you can loop down and around the backside of the mountain via Bear Peak West Ridge and back through Bear Canyon to make this a loop instead of an up-and-down trip.

Read More

Tags

Hiking
Scenic

Reviews

Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!

Stay Nearby

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder A-Lodge Cabin

The private cabin is a great accommodation for a family or group. One master queen bedroom, one guest queen bedroom, one bunk bedroom, and a pullout couch. The cabin also has one private bathroom, ...

From $149/night

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder A-Lodge Hotel

Our private rooms come with one or two queen beds, private bathroom, free wifi, free DirecTV, free long distance, coffee, mini-fridge, free parking and either a stove top or microwave. In the main ...

From $99/night

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder A-Lodge Hostel

The hostel has only four beds per room, designated lockers for each bed, kitchen, TV with DirecTV, free wifi,  two bathrooms, slackline park, and a trailhead less than 50 feet out the hostel door. ...

From $39/night

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder A-Lodge Camping

Campsites are on platforms about 50 feet up the trail above the property. This provides great views and more privacy. Each site comes with a bear box to store food. In the main lobby, there is free...

From $40/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Catch a Boulder Sunrise from NCAR

    A great place to watch the sunrise in Boulder is at NCAR, the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Park in the parking lot at the top of the hill, and if you're feeling up to it, you can walk south for about 10 minutes to an adjacent hill wit...

  • Hike Woods Quarry

    You can start from Chautauqua Park, but I prefer to start at NCAR, especially since there is ample parking and you can take a bathroom break inside before hitting the trail. From the intersection of Table Mesa Drive and Broadway in Boulder, drive...

  • Hike the Shanahan Ridge Trail

    Starting on the edge of a neighborhood in South Boulder, this 3.8 mile loop begins its 869 foot elevation gain by meandering through a pine forest. You can 'choose your own adventure' by exploring the handful of trails that meet up with the Shanah...

    3.8 miles 869 ft gain

  • Scramble Angel's Way

    Angel's Way is an amazing 8 pitch rock climb scramble (5.2) that is tucked away in Skunk Canyon, hidden from the crowds of Chautauqua. The best part of this scramble is you only need your climbing shoes and chalk-bag. It is similar to the 'Free ...

    5 miles 1000 ft gain

  • Inspire Your Fall Aspen Trip!

    Autumn days in Aspen are filled with sunshine and nights with crisp cool air. Watch the mountains and valleys turn gold with the changing Aspen trees. Take in the scenery while enjoying scenic drives, hiking through forests, road biking, and exploring our IMBA Gold Level Ride Center recognized mountain bike trails. 




    Learn More