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
|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)|
Green Mountain (8,149') and Bear Peak (8,461') stand prominently 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.
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 both 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. Lingering 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 a few jagged boulders that tend to restrict movement, however cautious maneuvering leads to safe viewing areas across the eastern plains, Boulder foothills, Indian Peaks Wilderness 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.
Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View 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
- 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.
City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks