South Boulder Peak Trailhead: South Mesa Trailhead

Activities: Hiking

Closest City / Town: Boulder, Colorado

Directions to South Mesa Trailhead:
  • 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.
  • There is ample parking and a restroom at the trailhead.
  • Note: Please go the speed limit on highway 170.  You’ll encounter many bikers and children on this drive.

Hiking Distance: 7 miles (roundtrip)

Description: Hiking up to the summit of South Boulder Peak is a relatively difficult, rigorous trek.  You’ll inevitably gain 2,950′ in elevation.  South Boulder Peak rests at 8,549′.

The hike starts out of the South Mesa Trailhead.  There are a number of different variations that you can make on this hike due to the web of trails heading out from the trailhead.

The best route courses along the Homestead Trail.  Follow the Homestead Trail for 1.1 miles.  After 1.1 miles, you’ll encounter the first of many trail junctions.  Continue taking left turns at each of the 4 junctions that you encounter over the next .9 miles.

After 2 miles, you should hit the Shadow Canyon Trail.  Follow the trail straight up the drainage for 1.1 miles.  This section is extremely steep.  However, if you are in decent shape it shouldn’t pose many problems.

Eventually you’ll reach the saddle between South Boulder Peak and Bear Peak.  Veer left, and continue .3 miles to the summit of South Boulder Peak.  Be sure to allocate plenty of time to absorb the unbeatable views of Rocky Mountain National Park, Eldora Ski Resort, Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, and James Peak Wilderness Area.  Descend the same way that you approached.

Worth Noting: There are some excellent bouldering problems up Shadow Canyon; there are also some marvelous boulders near the South Mesa Trailhead.  The boulders near the trailhead are swarmed by wasps during the summer, but offer superb bouldering once temperatures drop.


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