Shadow Canyon Trail to South Boulder Peak

HARD 85 reviews
#21 of 98 trails in

Shadow Canyon Trail to South Boulder Peak is a 7.8 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Boulder, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

7.8 miles
2,995 feet

dog friendly


nature trips

trail running


bird watching


wild flowers


20 days ago

Did this trail on Saturday 2/2. Started at 8:15 AM, about 70% of the trail had packed snow on it. Put on micro-spikes at the base of Shadow Canyon and they were extremely useful. The trail out from the canyon was extremely muddy by the time we were descending around 11:30-12

Beautiful, challenging trail.

1 month ago

Views at the top are worth the lack of views during the hike through Shadow Canyon. The first 2ish miles are not bad at all. Once you hit the real elevation gain in Shadow Canyon it sucks. The last 1500 ft in gain seemed to take forever! Only section that really might want to consider spikes is after the saddle on the final ascent to South Boulder Peak. You can get away without them though with careful foot placement. If you really want to hike to South Boulder Peak, go up through Fern Canyon and hit Bear Peak then South Boulder afterwards. Fern Canyon is similar in toughness, but better views. Though when I hiked it 2 weeks ago it had much more snow and ice and spikes were necessary the last 800 ft in gain. Have fun!

2 months ago

We did this hike on thanksgiving day and we were happy to see many faces on the trail. It’s definitely one of the most gorgeous hikes we’ve ever done. Even in late fall with ice on the ground, this trail had a lot of scenery to offer. I’d say it’s one of the best hikes to accurately represent Boulder, as you see diverse rock giants throughout. We are quite fit so it wasn’t terribly difficult, but let’s be honest the way down was INTENSE! Complete and utter focus is required to make it down those huge rock stair cases. Saw a family of deer and that made my day.
Will be back in the spring time to see all the wildflowers bloom. You have to see this place!

5 months ago

Bear on trail today. We did this route to South Boulder Peak and up to Bear Peak. The distance is reported a little short on the app. Expect 3,500+ ft elevation gain and a 10 Mile in and out hike if you want to bag both peaks at the T in the trail.

Have Fun

6 months ago

Get run to build your mountain legs
Watch the poison ivy at the start of the canyon
Got sprayed by a skunk on the approach this morning

6 months ago

Stunning views up top. This trail broke my knees on the way down. Those steps are a killer.

7 months ago

Amazing hike. We just completed his today and hit both peaks. Shadow Canyon's provides a bit more to see, and is just as difficult of a climb. Don't underestimate this one. Though it's low in altitude, you still truck up 3,000 feet and, likewise, bang your knees up on the way down those 3,000 feet. The trail is a bit difficult to follow when the elevation begins to pick up, but it's pretty hard to get lost. To avoid our big mistake, do an out and back if you follow this trail; the loop around can lead you about five miles away from the parking lot. Thank sweet baby Jesus for Uber. Either way, awesome views. Bring plenty of water. My wife and I went through three liters and a 24 oz Gatorade, but, again, we did both summits. Keep an eye out for rattlesnakes and bears. We ran into two rattlesnakes on the side of the trail and word spread quick about two black bears roaming further down the trail. Nothing to worry about, though. Except for the ten gallons of sweat that poured out of me. It needs to be winter already. Get out and get it done! Not too difficult and spaced out really well. The tricky part comes at the very end. The climbing is a bit sketch if you want to get the views, but totally worth the risk.

trail running
7 months ago

Hmm... all trails is off!!
1. It’s 10.53 miles
2. It’s not hard, more moderate. If you’re out of shape, then it’ll probably be a little hard.

7 months ago

Definitely a workout (step-style over rocks and roots in the canyon), but worth the views! Also quite easy (once you’re up there) to shoot over to Bear Peak. A lot of sun on the meadow trail area until the ascent, which is shaded for most of the canyon until the switchbacks leading up to the crest splitting the trail between South Boulder Peak and Bear Peak. Had to push myself a bit, but loved the vistas! Best to do on a weekday. I can see how it may get crowded. Barely anyone around today (Monday).

7 months ago

This hike is a killer workout. Basically stairs for the entire ascent. In early June, we started around 9 am and it very quickly turned HOT. It was also very crowded. We spent a lot of time leap frogging and moving to the side to pass or be passed, hence the 4 stars. That said, as far as Boulder hikes go, this one was great. Tons of wildflowers, dogs allowed off leash, and some satisfying views of the front range from the top. My dog and I did the quick ascent up Bear Peak, but the bugs were so oppressive we couldn't even enjoy it. Will also warn folks that my dog, a year old 40 pound labradoodle, has done multiple ascents and I brought plenty fo water for him. We saw lots of dogs that were way overheating on this hike, so bring extra water to drench your dog. It's nice to do a 3k ft ascent within a 30 minute drive of Denver. Will definitely be doing this again!

8 months ago

This was so hard. Took lots of breaks. I’m always a fan of the reward of coming back down the mountain but even on the downhill it was hard. Worth it though. I lost the trail at one point with a group of others. Tip: you’ll see a group of boulders to both side of you... don’t follow the boulders and climb them to either side, there is almost a fake trail on the “right side” of the actual trail. Go between both boulder fields.

8 months ago

This is a challenge for your quads! Very tough, but worth it from the top. If you have the energy ( which I did not) you should go up to Bear Peak it’s basically right there.

9 months ago

butt kicker

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Amazing hike, with breathtaking views!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Lots of stairstepping and strenuous, and a great view from the peak

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Challenging like the rating says, the ascent was straight up stair stepping until the switch backs. Trail was a bit hard to follow in spots but markers seemed to magically appear when you needed them most. Also, it had been raining all day so the beaten path wasn't as obvious.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Easy going at the beginning, with a very difficult ascent and descent towards the top. Views were totally worth it. Bring lots of water if you're a slow hiker like me, we ran out at the summit! Started around 9 AM and finished around 5, with a total of about 11 miles.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Did Shadow Creek to South Boulder to Bear Peak to Fern Canyon to Shanahan to Mesa to Bluestream to Mesa parking lot. Steep steep steep coming down from Bear Peak! I found my poles very useful for that segment, and didn't really need them after.

Very crowded, even at 7am! A lot of people with off leash dogs that just darted out ahead and ran underfoot. Owners didn't really care.

I probably wouldn't do this one again, mostly due to how overly crowded it was. But there's a great view, so it's worth at least one visit.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hiked this on April 8th. Really enjoyed this hike and found it challenging for the first hike of the year. I didn't end up hiking Bear as well; me t time. We took the left fork at beginning of trail and experience d less traffic.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

I forgot to turn on the recorder for my return trip, but it took me about an hour and half to get back. It was an amazing hike with killer views. Don't forget to wear layers as the saddle and the summit were super windy and cold!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Enjoyed this hike and yes it is difficult due to rocky technical terrain and steep ascent and descents. Beautiful vistas!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Beautiful hike. more difficult than I anticipated with a lot of scrambling over rocks. loved it and definitely will do it again.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

PROS: Beautiful trail. Steep incline. Awesome views from the top.

CONS: Limited parking.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Good work out and solid views at the end. The ascent once you're in the canyon is very challenging for inexperienced hikers.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

When u actually get up to canyon if your there during the "magic hour" beauty. Plus 2 abandoned cabins along the way

Friday, July 08, 2016

It was brutal. We climbed to Bear Peak. Worth the view!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Gorgeous hike, tons of wildflowers, streams and of course, the Flatirons to keep you going. Only qualm of course is the search for parking.

Monday, May 30, 2016

We did this hike from Shanahan trailhead. It was a total thigh burner. We took Big Blue stem trail back to the car and it was very plesant. I probably wouldn't do this hike unless you are looking for a good workout. Good views from the top of both peaks though!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Awesome trail! Actually ran into a black bear on the way back but was about 400 yds away.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Wow what a hike. I started with the Shadow Canyon Trail and at the halfway point decided to head all the way up to South Boulder Peak. The SCT portion was pretty tame but was the elevation gain kicked in it became a good workout. There are a good amount of rocks in the SCT (past the halfway point) until the switchbacks. From where the trail splits between SBP and Bear Peak all te way to the top of SBP there is still a fair amount of icy snow (enough that I wish I had my microspikes). You be able to see a whole lot because of the tree cover until the top but let me say it is soooo worth it. All of the Front Range mountains are in view. We think we spotted Longs Peak, Grays & Torreys, Evans & Bierstadt, and Pikes Peak in the distance. So worth the wait and I cant wait to go back and go after Bear Peak. Enjoy!

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