Green Mountain - Bear Peak Trail (Green and Bear It), Gregory Canyon Trailhead, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado

Green Mountain - Bear Peak Trail (Green and Bear It) - 10.55 miles

Gregory Canyon Trailhead

Snowcaps in the Indian Peaks from the Green Mountain Trail

Snowcaps in the Indian Peaks from the Green Mountain Trail

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)
Round-Trip Length: 10.55 miles
Start-End Elevation: 5,856' - 8,461' (8,461' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +2,605' net elevation gain (+4,384' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Green Mountain - Bear Peak Trail (Green and Bear It) - 10.55 Miles Round-Trip

Green Mountain (8,149') and Bear Peak (8,461') stand tall over Boulder, two distinguished summits in close proximity with commanding views of the eastern plains and Rocky Mountains. Boulder's extensive trail network connects the two, with numerous routing options for reaching both in a day.

Trail Map

One route begins in Gregory Canyon and joins the Ranger Trail to scale Green Mountain; it continues on the Green-Bear Trail to the Bear Peak West Ridge Trail and up to Bear Peak.

Sometimes referred to as the 'Green and Bear It' for its vertical profile, this challenging route follows steep terrain, serene forests and high ridges with excellent views en route to the summits:

The Gregory Canyon Trail rises gently to a stream crossing (.55 miles), then climbs steeply on a twisting, rocky path to milder switchbacks in the upper canyon (1.0 miles : 6,650'). The Gregory Creek corridor supports apple and plum trees that attract bear and other wildlife. It's also covered with poison ivy, so remain on the trail at all times.

The trail eases considerably as it curls southwest to the Ranger Trail - Long Canyon Trail split (1.3 miles : 6,655'). Merge left onto the Ranger Trail. The Ranger Trail remains flat to the historic Greenman Lodge (1.45 miles), past which it climbs methodically through fir and lodgepole to the E.M. Greenman Trail junction (1.75 miles : 6,950').

Here the Ranger Trail steepens on a series of tight switchbacks. Gaps in the forest offer a glimpse of snow-capped peaks to the west, a welcome sight along an otherwise business-like climb. Remain alert as lingering snow may obscure unpredictable turns and lead you astray.

The Ranger Trail climbs to the Green-Bear Trail - Green Mt West Ridge Trail split along a narrow ridge below the summit (2.5 miles : 7,860'). Turn left toward Green Mountain.

The final 300 yards weave quickly through faint and rugged terrain to the summit. Tree markings offer guidance on the final approach. The Green Mountain summit features a peak-finder that identifies peaks across a 100 mile panorama (2.7 miles : 8,144').

From Green Mountain's summit, scramble back down to the Green-Bear Trail and turn left (south). The Green-Bear Trail drops 650' in just .8 miles down the south flank of Green Mountain to a small meadow at the Bear Peak West Ridge Trail split (3.7 miles : 7,181').

Bear right for the remaining 1.75 mile, 1,280' push to Bear Peak. The West Ridge Trail is initially moderate, tracing a well-defined ridgeline with a revealing look at Bear Canyon, Green Mountain, South Boulder Peak and the back-range.

Switchbacks tighten and steepen considerably after 6 miles, where you should anticipate many quick, sparingly marked turns up rugged terrain to the summit. Snow can make this final approach precarious and difficult to read.

The trail emerges above the forest in a loose scree field (6.25 miles), which may take a moment to properly assess. The rocky, obfuscated path generally veers west (right) to the Shadow Canyon Trail split (6.3 miles : 8,420'); here an informal but intuitively followed scramble leads straight up to the summit (6.35 miles : 8,461').

The pointed, wind-swept summit is little more than jagged boulders, however cautious maneuvering leads to safe viewing areas across the plains, Boulder foothills, Indian Peaks and Rocky Mountain National Park. Keep an eye on weather, as there's still considerable distance, elevation gain and exposure on the return to Gregory Canyon.

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Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

View Interactive Google Map

  • N39 59.845 W105 17.572 — Gregory Canyon Trailhead
  • N39 59.860 W105 18.024 — Cross stream over bridge
  • N39 59.849 W105 18.345 — Switchbacks end in upper canyon; bear southwest
  • N39 59.746 W105 18.494 — Ranger Trail - Long Canyon Trail junction
  • N39 59.610 W105 18.493 — Greenman Lodge
  • N39 59.409 W105 18.315 — Ranger Trail - EM Greenman Trail junction
  • N39 58.970 W105 18.229 — Ranger Trail - Green Bear Trail junction
  • N39 58.915 W105 18.095 — Green Mountain Summit
  • N39 58.693 W105 18.483 — Green Bear Trail mark 1
  • N39 58.453 W105 18.475 — Green Bear Trail - Bear Peak West Ridge Trail junction
  • N39 58.282 W105 18.542 — Bear Peak West Ridge Trail mark 1
  • N39 57.726 W105 17.937 — Bear Peak West Ridge Trail mark 2
  • N39 57.646 W105 17.742 — Emerge above forest in scree field
  • N39 57.612 W105 17.715 — Bear Peak West Ridge Trail - Shadow Canyon Trail junct.
  • N39 57.616 W105 17.713 — Bear Peak Summit

Worth Noting

  • Steep sections, especially on north-facing slopes, can be snow and ice covered through mid-spring. Hiking poles and yaktrax are recommended during this period.

  • Bears and other wildlife rely heavily on fruits and berries in Gregory Canyon and Bear Canyon. Avoid traveling off-trail, and leave fruits and berries to the local wildlife.

  • Gregory Canyon is named for John Gregory, an ambitious miner who in the 1860s built a road up the canyon to gold mines in the Black Hawk area. Though serviceable for several decades, the road's rudimentary construction and canyon's steep pitch were prohibitive, and eventually Flagstaff Road was completed in 1906 to replace it.

  • The Ranger Trail's origin is often attributed to Martin Parsons, a dedicated local ranger in the early 1900s. Apple trees in lower Gregory Canyon were likely planted by Ernest Greenman, who's credited with planting hundreds of apple trees throughout the Boulder foothill canyons.

Rules and Regulations

  • Bikes and motorized vehicles are not permitted on the Gregory Canyon Trail, Ranger Trail, Green-Bear Trail or Bear Peak West Ridge Trail.

  • There is a parking fee at the Gregory Canyon Trailhead if your car is not registered in Boulder County.

Directions to Trailhead

The Gregory Canyon Trailhead is located at the West end of Baseline Road in Boulder, Colorado.

Directions to Trailhead (from Boulder): Take Baseline Road West past Chautauqua Park to the Gregory Canyon Trailhead access road and turn left. Park when you reach the dead-end. Parking is limited at the trailhead; arrive early to secure parking.

Contact Information

City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks
Phone: 303-441-3440
http://www.bouldercolorado.gov/

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.



Comments

"No doubt, this is a very demanding hike no matter how you tackle it. The route described here is an out-and-back that begins at Gregory Canyon; the route you took is definitely longer! Thanks for the feedback and sharing your experience - ProTrails."
ProTrails Admin  -   -  Date Posted: March 4, 2014
"I hiked this as a loop, leaving bear peak down fern canyon trail and Mesa trail past NCAR and back to Chautauqua park. It was just over 12 miles and 4200 total vertical. This route description doesn't really specify whether it's intended to be an out-and-back or a loop. Either way it is much longer than the 10.55 miles advertised. I think and out and back would be +-15 miles. Still a tough and rewarding hike/ run. We loved it. "
Keith j  -  Longmont,co  -  Date Posted: March 3, 2014
"I did a very similar trek today, with the exception I took the Amphitheatre / Saddle trail starting also at Gregory Canyon. Effectively, some paths, close to each summit, are pretty steep. Moreover last year (Summer 2012), there was a bad fire around Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak, hence the last part to Bear Peak is in a burn forest (aka less shadow!). Also, they have closed the access route from Bear Peak to South Boulder Peak, but it should be open again in 2-3 months... I then made a loop by going down along the Fern Canyon trail at the N / NW of Bear Peak; although it was April, we had snow just a week ago, and the trail was still partly covered with snow and ice, so be careful if you hike during this season! And the Fern canyon trail is even steeper than the access to Bear Peak from the W (from Green Mountain). Then I end up on the Mesa trail that is along the hill slope of the flatiron, to the E of Green Mountain. This was an awesome trek, although pretty long. I am not a very sportive man, but do love hiking! This trip, with time for picture and rest, took me nearly 8 hours. My GPS indicated me a total of 11.2 miles. Check the profile here: http://adventures.garmin.com/en-US/by/julien-allaz/boulder-trek-to-green-mountain-and-bear-peak/#.UX8RkCvwLAU Enjoy Colorado! Julien"
Julien Allaz  -  Boulder, CO (USA)  -  Date Posted: April 29, 2013
"I don't know if the mileage is correct for this route. I made it up on to the Bear Peak West Ridge before I had to turn around because the sun was coming down. I was pretty far from the summit. My GPS said the round trip was 10.4 miles"
Peter Denman  -  Boulder, CO  -  Date Posted: December 11, 2012

 

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