Trailhead: NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) – if approaching Bear Peak via Fern Canyon or the West Ridge; South Mesa – if approaching Bear Peak via Shadow Canyon
Closest City / Town: Boulder, Colorado
- Head west on Table Mesa Drive (Table Mesa can be accessed directly from Broadway or Highway 36).
- Continue on Table Mesa Drive as it climbs up the side of the Rocky Mountain foothills.
- Table Mesa Drive will eventually dead end into the NCAR parking lot.
- Take Highway 93 south out of Boulder.
- Hang a right onto Highway 170 towards Eldorado Springs.
- After 1.8 miles you will see the South Mesa Trailhead on the right-hand side of the highway.
- Note: Please go the speed limit on highway 170. You’ll encounter many bikers and children on this drive.
Hiking Distance: Approximately 7.6 miles (roundtrip)
Description: There are three ways that you can climb Bear Peak: 1) West Ridge, 2) Fern Canyon, & 3) Shadow Canyon. Personally, we would recommend ascending via the West Ridge & descending through Fern Canyon. This trip is approximately 7.6 miles roundtrip. If you want to avoid crowds, then you should definitely go up and down via Shadow Canyon. Please note that you will gain 2,800 feet in elevation on this hike.
Worth Noting: There are some excellent bouldering problems up Shadow Canyon and throughout the West Ridge approach.