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Three Peaks Loop Trail

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Boulder Open Space

Three Peaks Loop Trail is a 13.1 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Boulder, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 13.1 miles Elevation Gain: 4,734 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

bird watching

running

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

Start: Chautauqua Park Main Entrance S. Boulder Peak - 8549' Bear Peak - 8459' Green Mtn. - 8150' End: Chautauqua Park Main Entrance

1 day ago

Took around 7 hours to complete. It's a difficult hike, but only because of the distance and weather. The mountains themselves aren't bad, I felt like I could hike another when I was on south boulder peak. The difficult part is the hike back. Shadow Canyon is steep, and while you're going downhill it still hurts a fair bit. It's roughly 6 1/2 miles back from south boulder peak, so just don't get overly confident on the top.. You're barely halfway done.

hiking
15 days ago

Strenuous hike, bring lots of water. I had 4 liters and probably could have used at least one more. Stunning views though, absolutely worth it. Started from Chatauqua with Green Mtn first and ended at SoBo Peak. Bring summit beers and lots of sunscreen!

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

This is a really good challenge with excellent views. Going up Green Mountain their is a ladder, but its at a 45 degree angle so not too hard. Keep going past Green and don't stop. The ascent up Bear is pretty steep, but nothing terrible. South Boulder is easy. The descent down Shadow Canyon is pretty rocky and rough. The last 5 miles to the trailhead are pretty level with some stairs, its more just an annoyance after everything. Take lots of water, most of the trail is exposed and it does get hot. I went through almost 5 liters of water, their are a few streams to refill at once you get past Shadow Canyon. A fair warning, I wouldn't try this unless your in fairly decent shape, it is a long trail even though most of it is just dirt.

hiking
1 month ago

Great challenging hike close to Boulder. You start off climbing to Green Mountain which is the most difficult of the day. Then you’ll make your way through a pretty chill section that’s different than this route. It looks newly built and is very mellow and you’re mostly on this till you hit Bear Peak. Once you’re on Bear Peak approach you’re in an exposed burn till you’re back into trees after South Boulder. Sunscreen up. Bear Peak summit is where you’ll more than likely find the most people of the day hanging out. South Boulder is a quick out and back. If you’re pressed for time or dealing with weather, I’d skip it. Once you’re back from South Boulder you’ll hit a knee busting descent for quite awhile. I took a trekking pole and was glad I did. At this point you’ll be out of the burn and less exposed. The rest of the hike generally follows a series of trails and a bit of some gravel road walks.

hiking
1 month ago

Long and fun day, and close to home! Fyi, I tracked closer to 15 miles. Trail was easy to follow, more people at the summits of Green and Bear than I would have expected on a Tuesday. Be sure to start early and take enough water! 2L was ok, but wish I’d had closer to 3L.

hiking
2 months ago

If you had about 10 bourbon shots the night before, then woke up and slammed a Chipotle Burrito, and are now considering this hike it probably isn’t the one for you. I am speaking from experience. In all seriousness this hike is awesome but very hard. First 2.5 miles are all incline to the first peak. Once you’re there its awesome. Theres a break in incline between the first and second peak but then you’re hiking a steep hill again to get to peak two. I skipped peak 3 because I started later in the day. Exhausting but a great way to spend a day. Highly recommend this trail.

hiking
2 months ago

A good amount of hardpacked snow/ice on north side of ascent up Green. Didn’t have spikes, quite slick in some spots.

hiking
icy
muddy
snow
3 months ago

First time attempting this trail and man was it a fun workout! Don’t stop long at Green because you’ll need your strength for the next two peaks for sure. Very snowpacked between Green and Bear but with crampons you’ll be fine. A lot of mud and water on the Mesa Trail headed back to Chatauqua today but wonderful weather overall! Will definitely be coming back for round 2 soon. I took about 3L of water for this hike and ended up with some left over at the end.

hiking
7 months ago

I use this trail weekly as my Long run. Great elevation gain and long rolling sections provide for a variation of training. Total time for competition was about 3:28, power hiking steep sections and running the more tame terrain.

running
8 months ago

One of my favorite "longer" Boulder loops. Either direction, the exposure between Green and Bear is significant. You are out there. Be prepared for any possible weather and have water. Shadow Canyon is rough on the joints but rewarding. Running on 10/21 it was really cold and windy.

hiking
10 months ago

It took a little under 7 hours on an 85 degree day. Went up Gregory and Ranger Trail Great elevation gain. It hurt a lot on the way back

hiking
11 months ago

One of my favorite "local" hikes. Great elevation gains and beautiful scenery. Much of the hike between peaks has less traffic than the other routes. Only downside is the lower altitude. It gets HOT! I went through 3L of water with 1+ hour left. That part was painful. Overall, it took me and a buddy ~7.5 hours in total. We're both pretty athletic. We took decent breaks at each peak and were a bit slow on the descent (bad knees).

hiking
11 months ago

I agree with everyone else. Beautiful hike, secluded after you clear NCAR, and a perfect mix of flat paths and steep mountain climbs. It was shady during half my hike and I still went through 3L of water.

hiking
Mon Jul 01 2019

Beautiful and challenging hike. Somehow missed the meadow trail so had a small detour and used the ski jump trail at the beginning. Went down fern canyon. The first part of it was STEEP but the second half was much more doable. Total distance and elevation according to my Fitbit: 14.38 miles and 4790 ft. Started at 6:50am, summited Green Mountain just before 9, Bear Peak just before 11:15 (stopped for lunch) and South Boulder at noon. Back to the car by 2:50 with storms in the distance. Not too bad for an Oklahoman!

hiking
Fri Jun 14 2019

Well, we are still alive some 18 miles and over 6000ft of elevation gain later... Started the trail at 530am. Made Green Mountain summit at around 7:30. Bear at 10am and South Boulder at 11. We took Shadow Canyon down from Bear....this added a few extra miles. Take Fern Canyon down to not do 18 miles. I’ve hiked up/down Fern and it is STEEP. I recommend having poles to save your knees. The last part of the hike back to the trailhead is almost entirely unshaded and brutal. Joe has it right in his review. Bring sunscreen and plenty of water. My friend and I went through 3 liters of water each before the end of the hike.

running
Sun Jun 09 2019

Really really REALLY steep. So beautiful tho. Fun to run. Definitely be back.

hiking
muddy
rocky
Wed Jun 05 2019

Looking for a 14-er caliber training ground only an hour from Denver? Enter the three peaks loop. The climb up Shadow Canyon — legit. The sore feet and thunderstorm scares — real. The satisfaction when you return, bruised, muddy, and full-circle, to Chatauqua park — irreplaceable. Tl;dr it's a beautiful and challenging hike. Bring plenty of food, sunscreen, and 2+ liters of water. Be prepared to hike a full 8 hours. As of now, the Mesa Trail section is still muddy, and the wildflowers are just beginning to peek out. Be careful of afternoon storms — I had a scare coming up South Boulder peak. Enjoy!!

Sat May 11 2019

Great route. The trail today was very muddy in many areas and packed snow and slush. Slick areas near top. Coming down was a bit of a challenge.

hiking
Sat Apr 27 2019

Be prepared for this one. The trail is now dry for the most part. I didn't need any extra traction but I did take some yaktrax just in case. Make sure to bring enough water.

running
Sat Apr 13 2019

A LOT of snow and mud, took chains on and off a few times.

hiking
snow
Sun Mar 24 2019

running
Mon Nov 05 2018

Did this once - exhausted. Trying for the 5 peaks of Boulder's skyline next year!

hiking
Sat Aug 11 2018

Incredible trail with great views. Took a little over 7 hours but wasn’t really hurrying to get through the trail. Would definitely do again. Be sure to bring enough water.

hiking
Wed May 16 2018

Closer to 14 miles and 5,000 feet of total elevation gain (according to Strava). Really enjoyed this hike though, I just didn't bring nearly enough food or water, and there is very limited sun cover on the more difficult parts of the route (Bear Peak's west ridge and South Boulder Peak). The descent down shadow canyon and subsequent death-march on the Mesa trail back to Chautauqua Park were very painful. It took me almost 8 hours exactly to complete the hike round-trip. Be prepared for this one. Wouldn't do it again but I'm glad I did it.

Wed Apr 18 2018

Many trails shown in the map are closed which makes me detour around for more than one mile. In general a good but tiring trail.

hiking
Sat Apr 14 2018

Mon Nov 06 2017

14.1 miles according to my Garmin watch. 5 hours for me, trail running.

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