Shadow Canyon, South Boulder Peak

From beginning to end Shadow Canyon is just over a mile, but it may seem longer, especially on your first hike here. And you have risen 1500+ feet in that mile. It starts getting really steep and rocky near the end. Just when you are ready to call it quits, the canyon opens up, the sun shines down on your head, and you are back out in the open again - nearing the Saddle point between Bear Mountain and S. Boulder Peak. The climb is quite steep here also, but it is relatively easy. The trail is easy to walk and follow, the woods are thin, and the scenery is spectacular. The trail zig-zags and winds (switchbacks) quite a bit here also.





Bear Peak ridge

Most of the picturesque mountain scenery will be on the right throughout the hike. To the left is more mountain and rock, but often difficult to see through the thick forest. You will see Devil's Thumb from various perspectives from here to the end of the trail. Strangely, it is poorly visible, if at all, from South Boulder Peak itself, or the trail leading to the summit. (It is actually part of Bear Mountain).





South Boulder ridge



Easy trail at the end


Bear Peak ridge

Finally! You have reached the Saddle Point ! About 3.3 miles into the hike and 2400 feet above the trailhead. It doesn't "look" like a saddle from there, but it is actually a low point with trails leading up to Bear Mountain (on the right), and South Boulder Peak (on the left). It is clearly marked.

The trek up either trail from this point is steep but quite short, less than half a mile each. It is possible to do them both in one day; many people do. This Saddle, like any, has 4 directions. Left and right lead to the 2 mountain tops, behind you leads back down Shadow Canyon from whence you came. Strait ahead looks enticing, like a gentle and pleasant hike ... where? It is not a designated trail although it looks tempting. It would actually take you deep and lost into wooded mountains where you would eventually run into Flagstaff road after about 3 miles; if you headed right you might get to the Bear Peak West Ridge trail.



The insects are fewer, and it is somewhat cooler up here. Good place to rest for a bit.
Saddle Point, looking back toward the trail you just came up. The post shows a map and points to the 2 peaks.

Seriously, I cannot remember which is which! The snow does that. The South Boulder Peak trail is mostly thru lite pine woods, whereas the Bear Peak trail is mostly rocky, and with some easy scrambling especially near the end. Both are quite easy after resting a bit from Shadow Canyon.



South Boulder or Bear?


Bear or South Boulder?



Bear Peak is seen as you ascend the trail

This trail is fairly easy to follow for the most part, and the scenery gets better with each step, including panoramic vistas of the countryside below, and rock formations on the neighboring mountains.



Note the incline
The trail up to South Boulder peak is mild and pleasant, through lite woods. It can be a little treacherous in the April snow, especially coming down. Were it not for the footprints, the trail would be impossible to find, although getting up to the summit would still be no problem. It is a short hike, about 0.3 mile, and rises about 400 feet.



At the Peak! Finally!
2800 feet above
the trailhead
An easy class 2(3) scramble over the rocks takes you to the summit.

And these rocks are not as solid as they look. Some are loose, and you don't know it till you try to walk on them. Take care! You can easily get a leg pinned in a crevice between these rocks, and if they shift or move ...

I had to go to the top, the very top. You are not at the top unless you can look down in all 4 directions, 360 degree circle. The views, needless to say, are fantastic. Neighboring peaks of the Front Range are seen, including Bear Peak Mountain, as well as the Continental divide and snow covered Rocky Mountains ("Indian Peaks") to the West. Down below, valleys, tiny houses, buildings, roads, etc.

I gotta be looking right at my condo here but I can't quite make it out down there ...

Looking South East



South East again, panning right toward Eldorado State Park. Eldorado mountain is seen in the upper right with train tracks and the prominent Micky Mouse ears rock formation. (I call it "Fallen Cross". That's what it looks like to me!)
Looking South and down. An interesting canyon to look at, not fall down into.