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) - 12.75 miles
Gregory Canyon Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||12.75 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||5,845' - 8,461' (8,461' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,616' net elevation gain (+4,284' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Green Mountain - Bear Peak Trail (Green and Bear It) - 12.75 Miles Round-Trip
Green Mountain (8,144') and Bear Peak (8,461') stand high 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 ways to reach 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, quiet forests and high ridges with excellent views en route to the summits. The following description summits both peaks, and omits re-summiting Green Mountain on the return:
The Gregory Canyon Trail rises steadily to a stream crossing (.5 miles : 6,162'), then climbs steeply on a twisting, rocky path to milder switchbacks in the upper canyon (1.0 miles : 6,670').
The 2013 floods stripped away much of the corridor's vegetation, revealing portions of stream that were typically veiled. Look for bears foraging apple and plum trees throughout the canyon.
The trail gradually levels and curls SW, following a nominally re-routed path beside a newly carved gorge to the historic Greenman Lodge at the Ranger Trail split (1.48 miles : 6,754’).
The Ranger Trail moderates through tall, mixed pine to the E.M. Greenman Trail split (1.7 miles : 6,965'), past which it steepens on a winding, business-like climb.
The Ranger Trail crests at the Green-Bear Trail - Green Mt West Ridge Trail split along a narrow ridge below the summit (2.55 miles : 7,860'). Turn left toward Green Mountain.
The summit access trail scrambles over rock and root to Green Mountain (2.7 miles : 8,144'). The summit is small but topped by a rock-spire and peak-finder that illustrates a 100-mile span.
From Green Mountain, head back down to the Green-Bear Trail (2.85 miles) and turn south downhill. Portions of this descent are steep but the majority is moderate and smooth, an ideal track for runners. A few thinly treed meadows along the way provide good habitat and viewing lanes for wildlife.
The Green-Bear Trail drops 680' in 1.75 miles down the south flank of Green Mountain to the Bear Canyon Trail - Bear Peak West Ridge Trail split in the saddle between the summits (4.65 miles : 7,181'). Turn up the West Ridge Trail for the 1.9 mile, 1280' push to Bear Peak.
The West Ridge Trail is initially moderate, tracing a well-defined ridge with emerging views of Bear Canyon, South Boulder Peak and Walker Ranch.
Fire scars are visible from a distance, but you’ll abruptly enter the burn area at 5.8 miles (7,706’). Despite a ghostly appearance the area is well on its way to recovery. Though it will be many years before healthy pine return, grasses, flowers and ground cover have already rooted.
Switchbacks steepen considerably at the base of Bear Peak’s conical summit (6.0 miles : 7,805’). Anticipate quick turns up rugged terrain on this final approach; snow and ice can make this strenuous section precarious and difficult to read.
The trail emerges from timber in a scree field that wraps (right) to the Shadow Canyon Trail split (6.48 miles : 8,395'), just below the summit on the west face. Here several intuitive scramble routes lead up to Bear Peak (6.55 miles : 8,461').
The most popular route curls back NE to the Fern Canyon Trail split, then up. No matter how you tackle it these final yards are steep, challenging and exposed.
The pointed, wind-swept summit is little more than a jagged boulder pile, however cautious maneuvering leads to safe viewing areas across the plains, foothills, and Rocky Mountains. Keep an eye on weather, as there's still considerable elevation gain and exposure on the return.
- N39 59.845 W105 17.572 — 0.0 miles : Gregory Canyon Trailhead
- N39 59.874 W105 18.013 — .5 miles : Cross stream to south side of canyon
- N39 59.847 W105 18.340 — 1.0 miles : Switchbacks level in upper canyon, where trail curls SW
- N39 59.615 W105 18.493 — 1.45 miles : Ranger Trail - Greenman Lodge
- N39 59.409 W105 18.315 — 1.7 miles : Ranger Trail - EM Greenman Trail split
- N39 58.970 W105 18.229 — 2.55 miles : Ranger Trail - Green Bear Trail junction
- N39 58.915 W105 18.095 — 2.7 miles : Green Mountain (8,144')
- N39 58.953 W105 18.527 — 3.2 miles : Flagstaff access trail split in large meadow
- N39 58.660 W105 18.473 — 3.8 miles : Steady, winding descent along saddle
- N39 58.397 W105 18.419 — 4.65 miles : Green Bear - Bear Peak W. Ridge Trail split
- N39 58.244 W105 18.505 — 5.15 miles : Moderate climb up West Ridge
- N39 57.872 W105 18.264 — 5.8 miles : Enter 2012 burn area
- N39 57.735 W105 17.978 — 6.05 miles : Begin very steep push ip Bear Peak's conical summit
- N39 57.614 W105 17.720 — 6.48 miles : Shadow Canyon Trail split just below summit
- N39 57.616 W105 17.713 — 6.55 miles : Bear Peak (8,461')
- Steep sections, especially on north-facing slopes, can be snow and ice covered through mid-spring.
- 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 are not permitted on the Gregory Canyon Trail, Ranger Trail, Green-Bear Trail or Bear Peak West Ridge Trail.
- There's a $5 parking fee at the Gregory Canyon Trailhead if your car is not registered in Boulder County.
- Dogs are permitted on these trails. Voice and Sight tags and rules apply. Be mindful of potential seasonal leash-area requirements.
Directions to Trailhead
The Gregory Canyon Trailhead is located at the far end of Baseline Road, 1.4 miles west of the Broadway intersection in Boulder, CO.
The Gregory Canyon Trailhead is located off a side road at the end of Baseline, just before it turns sharply uphill and becomes Flaggstaff Road.
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.
City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks