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Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak via Shanahan North Fork, Fern Canyon and Mesa Trail

hard(69)
Boulder Open Space

Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak via Shanahan North Fork, Fern Canyon and Mesa Trail is a 8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Boulder, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from April until September.

Distance: 8.0 miles Elevation Gain: 3,353 feet Route Type: Loop

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

forest

views

wild flowers

Great trail - was grateful for my spikes and poles. Views at top of both peaks are only 4 stars because it’s not remote, but otherwise, one of my favorite trails in boulder so far

Bring your spikes! Solid snow pack up top, muddy route down. Great hike!

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

Excellent hike with amazing views from Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak. Microspikes are necessary up Fern Canyon and the peaks.

Great hike. Definitely rated hard. Bring spikes Iicy in parts.

hiking
bugs
rocky
scramble
7 months ago

hiking
7 months ago

Such a scenic hike, definitely worth going alone so that nothing is between you and the best of nature! Main parking lot at South Mesa trailhead was full at 7:45, but there is another parking lot right across the road. Pay 5 bucks for parking. I took the Mesa trails and then south shadow canyon trail to the summit. First part is kind of open and easy before the shadow canyon starts then it becomes unbelievably beautiful and also harder. Very rocky and continuously steep. Since it was cloudy when I started, didn't feel too bad. on 85% of the hike I was fortunate to be alone on the trail but saw a few runners going up! I did the Bear peak first, little bit of scrambling to the actual summit, not too creazy. Then did the South Boulder peak. Spent a lot of time eating lunch and enjoying the views. Decent was quicker but hard on knees. Not too crazy again. Ended up being 9.4 miles out and back from the parking lot. Worth every step it took. I won't call it hard to discourage anyone, it's a moderate hike with steep sections.

hiking
rocky
scramble
7 months ago

Plan to take lots of water. The view at the top is worth it. With rest stops this hike took us 5ish hours.

hiking
7 months ago

This was a great trail and close to Denver. I did this on a Friday morning and I'd say it was moderately trafficked. If I had taken off at 7 instead of 7:30, I would've seen less humans. Parking at this connector trail head is easy street parking. Most of the trail is marked but there were a few tricky spots. Here are a couple of notes for when trail signs aren't there : Once you start the connector trail, keep left on to steps. Once on fern canyon trail follow the rock path. At the junction of bear peak and south Boulder canyon, bear peak is straight up the rocks. Follow the path on the right around the base of the peak to go towards south Boulder peak. At the junction of south Boulder peak (up) follow Shannon canon trail to the left for the loop of this specific hike. The first fork you come to after mesa trail starts, stick to the left. Mesa trail is a bit over grown right now so don't worry if you feel like you're walking on the wrong foot path, keep trucking and you'll find the big open road. All around great views, challenging climb, and a good ratio of coverage to sunlight. If you follow this hike you'll have coverage for the first half and after the peaks you'll be exposed.

hiking
scramble
9 months ago

This is definitely a hard one, but so worth to the climb to the very top. The panoramic views are beautiful! I took Fern Trail and it was a tough uphill “stair”like climb for a couple of miles. Definitely works the booty and calves! The downhill on the other side of the flatirons was beautiful. A winding path through a forest of wildflowers!

hiking
11 months ago

Fun 7.8 mile loop. Tough at times, but a great workout. No spikes needed on either Bear or South Boulder Peaks - dry most the way up (4/28/19).

hiking
Mon Jan 07 2019

Completed on January 6th. I went down from NCAR, through mesa, then fern canyon. I took bear canyon trail down, which was BEAUTIFUL . It was all so stunning, I love this area. I didn't have spikes, but my trekking poles were an absolute life saver in some areas. It's icy in some of the valleys, and toward the actual peak it's pretty slick. BRING LAYERS. (January in Colorado). I was so glad to have my Patagonia fleece and hat and gloves - while in some spots I was down to a tank top. Fern Canyon is steep. I decided not to go down that way because of this. but it was a great stair master workout. Bear Canyon trail is so stunning - and it's not steep. yes, it takes a while, but there's so much beauty to look at that it didn't bother me. I started around 9:45 and finished around 2, kind of purposely taking my time... ha ha. With my little off-trail spinoffs to rest and take pictures, it totalled at about 10 miles. I'm excited to do this trail going up through bear canyon next time, highly recommend it for someone who wants a challenge.

hiking
Sun Dec 30 2018

Completed this on 12/29/18. The hike up Fern Canyon was pretty icy and microspikes were necessary. Went down Shadow Canyon and it was relatively dry, only a few slick spots.

hiking
Sun Sep 30 2018

I didn't go all the way to South Boulder Peak, however, it was a satisfying hike. The first 2 miles or so was boring, but it gets better as you go to the top. I'd say 20% easy, 40% moderate and 40% hard. You'll need to have good hiking shoes, you have to climb or step on a pile of rocks. If you want to follow the map, you need to download it otherwise you'll get lost. Lots of sub trails around and you'll be appreciated to have a map for sure!

Sat Sep 08 2018

Great hike for an adventure! started by 5:30 so had ideal parking. Took about 5 hours for me. Not used to all the connected trails so taking pictures of the trail names on the map was super helpful. Also, not all trail connections are marked with signage so study the map before you go. Definitely a work out but anyone can do it, just pace yourself. Extremely dog friendly with great people everywhere. Hope this helps!

Thu Jul 26 2018

this hike really is beautiful, but it is very hard, if you are not super experienced definitely take a day for this hike.

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