Backpacker Magazine Denver: Devils Thumb Loop 

Bag two peaks on this 9-mile, fido-friendly loop around Boulder's signature Flatirons.

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Author: Backpacker Magazine
Date: 12 Jul 2006 5:22:52 PM
Activity: Hiking
State: Colorado (CO)
Distance: 6.86 mi  (Change units)
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 4069 ft
Total Loss: 3422 ft
Net Change: 648 ft
Difficulty: 8 / 10
Tags: Boulder, Colorado, Denver, Hiking, loop
Rating: Unrated   Rate it

TO TRAILHEAD: From Denver, take US 36 N to Table Mesa Drive 1.6 miles W. Turn L onto Lehigh St. and drive .9 miles. Park on the street near Shanahan Ridge Trailhead, just S of Lafayette Drive.

Position Format: Datum:


Distance: 6.86 mi Points: 1283
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Devil's Thumb Loop Track

Points of Interest


Location: 39.967434, -105.258682
Head S then W across an open mesa dotted with pines; Devils Thumb protrudes from the Flatirons ahead


Location: 39.960766, -105.266350
Turn L @ Y onto South Fork Shanahan Ridge Trail


Location: 39.958618, -105.280220
Take L @ Mesa Trail and head S


Location: 39.945950, -105.287033
Turn R and begin knee-popping, 2,000-ft. ascent into the verdant contours of Shadow Canyon


Location: 39.956516, -105.297165
Reach saddle and take L


Location: 39.953602, -105.299416
South Boulder Peak (8,549 ft.): Eldorado Canyon drops off precipitously to the south Continue back to saddle and turn L onto Bear Peak Saddle Trail.


Location: 39.960266, -105.295166
Bear Peak (8,461 ft.): Scope the Great Divide on the western horizon then descend north into the shady environs of Fern Canyon and return to the Mesa Trail


Location: 39.964584, -105.279816
Turn R back onto the Mesa Trail and hike .6 miles back to the South Fork Shanahan Ridge Trail to close loop then return to trailhead

Flatirons Up Close

Location: 39.964939, -105.289558
Viewed This is an unnamed Flatiron above "The Slab" and below Bear Peak. ©Andrew Matranga

Like a lonesome hitchhiker

Location: 39.952110, -105.289284
View from below in the depths of Shadow Canyon, the protruding granite spire of Devil's Thumb pierces the Boulder Skyline like a wayward roadside straggler. ©Andrew Matranga

Scrambling Atop Bear Peak

Location: 39.962410, -105.294434
The last few hundred yards to the summit follow an exposed ridgeline requiring some hand-over-hand scrambling. ©Andrew Matranga

Summit of Bear Peak

Location: 39.960251, -105.295074
A stack of boulders greets the tired hiker to Bear Peak, Boulder's second highest summit. ©Andrew Matranga

Down the Range

Location: 39.948250, -105.290344
A view south from Shadow Canyon. Note double ears of "Mickey Mouse Wall" near Eldorado Mountain. ©Andrew Matranga

The Angle of the Flatirons

Location: 39.960754, -105.294113
From above, the Flatirons are less-than-vertical, demonstrating the uplift that occured many geologic years ago. ©Andrew Matranga

Benchmark and the Great Divide

Location: 39.960022, -105.294891
A USGS marker notes the 8,461-foot summit of Bear Peak, where views stretch west to the snow-capped glaciers of the Indian Peaks and the Continental Divide. ©Andrew Matranga

Close up of Devil's Thumb

Location: 39.951927, -105.290298
A near-vertical shot of the iconic Devil's Thumb. ©Andrew Matranga

View into Eldorado Canyon

Location: 39.953583, -105.299400
Looking southwest from South Boulder Peak. ©Andrew Matranga


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