Bear Creek Trail

Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

Distance4.1mi
Elevation Gain5,748ft
Trailhead Elevation8,465ft
Top11,193ft
Elevation Min/Max8462/11193ft
Elevation Start/End8465/8465ft

Bear Creek Trail

Bear Creek Trail is a hiking trail in Ouray County, Colorado. It is within Uncompahgre National Forest. It is 4.1 miles long and begins at 8,465 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 8.7 miles with a total elevation gain of 5,748 feet. The Grizzly Bear Mine (elevation 9,974 feet) quarry and the Yellow Jacket Mine adit can be seen along the trail.

Bear Creek Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Of the four different Bear Creeks found in the western half of the San Juan Mountains, the one that drains into the Uncompahgre Gorge couple of miles south of Ouray could well be the most spectacular.

Although the creek bottom itself is far too rugged to follow, miners during the late nineteenth century were not deterred, and constructed a trail into the upper reaches of the drainage. In so doing they built one of the most improbable mountain trails in the Colorado Rockies. This hike follows the first 4.2 miles of the route, which has been designated as a national recreation trail."

"Very diverse terrain including deep canyons, spruce-fir forests, high ridges, alpine tundra, and the Bridge of Heaven, all facilitated by a relatively simple car shuttle. This hike presents an incredible variety of high-country terrain."

"A diverse hike up a spectacular canyon to a scenic mine site. Almost all of the Bear Creek National Recreation Trail (including the entire day hike described here) is located outside the boundaries of the Uncompahgre Wilderness, but if extended into American Flats the Bear Creek provides a spectacular entry into the southwest portion of the wilderness area.

It is a wonderfully diverse trail, from rocky switchbacks and narrow cliff-bound shelves to waterfalls and finally to high alpine tundra. The Bear Creek Trail is sure to satisfy, either as a day hike or as an approach to a longer hike in the heart of the Uncompahgre."

"There were few good roads in Colorado before the turn of the century, and one of the greatest challenges faced by miners was transportation. Discovering the gold or silver was often the easy part. After a claim was staked the early miners were faced with the problem of getting their ore to a mill and bringing in tons of equipment so they could process the ore closer to the mine.

They often struggled mightily to build roads and trails through the rugged mountains without the help of modern machinery. The Bear Creek Trail now stands as a monument to the determination and perseverance of Colorado’s nineteenth century miners. It was originally built in the mid-1870s, and rerouted to its present location 20 years later."

Bear Creek Trail Reviews

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6/29/2009
I love the different terrains you get to see on this hike. If you are scared of heights then this one maybe a little scarey. I loved it. Be careful on the shale...lots of it.
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6/1/2007
beautiful trail..incredible views..cool avalanche areas..very scary in some spots...very much worth the trip...
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8/4/2006
This was, as the trail guide said, a "difficult" trail. Inexperienced hikers should really take note. The trail was very challenging . . . definitely met our expectations for a wilderness experience. The scenery was breathtaking. Coming upon the Yellow Jacket mine for our first night of camp, the first shack was a welcome sight. Might as well have been the Ritz Carlton. Good place to stop. We camped just the other side of Cascade Pass the second night. Both nights we had rain. Bridge of Heaven was amazing. The 5.5 miles downhill from there to Dexter Creek Trailhead was a real killer.
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Bear Creek Trail Photos

Trail Information

Uncompahgre National Forest
Nearby City
Uncompahgre National Forest
Parks
Ouray Ranger District, Uncompahgre National Forest, Uncompahgre Wilderness
Local Contacts
USGS Ouray, Ironton, Handies Peak, and Wetterhorn Peak
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Aug 2018