Peak(s):  Hagar Mtn  -  13,220 feet
"Golden Bear Pk"  -  13,010 feet
Date Posted:  08/28/2019
Date Climbed:   08/27/2019
Author:  Trotter
 Golden Bear/Hagar loop from west   

A beautiful way to get Golden Bear Peak and Hagar mountain, from the west, with a loop.

8 miles, 2800 feet. Mostly class 1, with some class 2 and 3 on Hagar.

After reading cdeno606's excellent report on Golden Bear from the west via Upper Straight Creek Trail,, I was reminded that a friend had once told me that it was a very pretty area back there. I had ignored their suggestion to hike there, because I figured it was so close to I-70 that all I would hear was traffic, and all I would see was highway and trash. But clearly I was mistaken.

However, I had already gotten Golden Bear, even if it was a pretty easy hike from the Loveland side... if you get ski lift and snow cat rides to just a couple hundred feet below the summit as I did. However, I had orphaned Hagar mountain after getting Citadel this past spring via Snoopy's backside couloir. So I thought I could go back and get Golden Bear with honor, and also get Hagar at the same time. I was planning on just doing cdeno606's route, and retracing my steps back over Golden Bear after Hagar. However, an idea came to me while looking at the google maps satellite view. There was a trail that appeared to go from the saddle of Coon hill and an unnamed point in between Golden bear and Hagar. It was not mentioned on any trip report. What if I could utilize this trail, and make a nice loop out of it. I always enjoy loops, as I get to see new things or new perspectives. Plus it would shave off significant mileage on the return trip, as well as some elevation gain.

The Trailhead is just barely west of the Eisenhower tunnel. Basically go through the tunnel, then immediately exit onto the shoulder. There is a large opening in the crash barriers, and a road/parking area. It's used both for CDOT vehicles, and truckers chaining up or down, or just taking a nap. There are no signs forbidding parking there, and several cars parked there throughout the day. IF you are coming from the dillon side, you simply exit right before the tunnel, and take a small road that goes OVER the tunnel, and drops you off at the trailhead. Again, there were no signs forbidding using that road. The road is also useful for at the end of the day if you are heading back to Denver, as you can use it to go right over the tunnel, and can merge right onto I-70 East. Its a real time saver versus going west to the next exit in Dillon then turning around.


So I started fairly late at 7:30, due to a fantastic forecast. You start by taking the paved road that goes around a maintenance building. It heads into the basin, and changes into a dirt road fairly quickly. After about half a mile, it turns into a trail. The trail is quite good, however, it crosses a bunch of small streams. The water level in late August was pretty low, and I didn't get my feet wet. But in spring, it might be a different story.

Start of trail

Trail continuing alongside a stream

The road noises fades very quickly, and the streams drown out any remaining noise. I was shocked how pleasant this little valley was.

Heading up the trail, you come to a fork. Its marked with a cairn and a yellow warning sign (which appeared to be an old repurposed sign, not an actual warning). Head right to continue up the same trail. Left will put you onto the Coon hill saddle, which was my descent route.

The turnoff cairn. Turn right to switchback up towards Loveland ski area.

Looking back at the intersection, from the left fork trail.

The trail heads up the headwall above the tunnel, with a nice gradual gain. After a couple switchbacks, you can begin to see the top of the ridge. This is where I turned off trail heading north. I began following the fence posts that I think mark the in bounds loveland ski area.

Where I turned off trail for ridge direct

There was a few hundred feet gain, and soon you top out on Golden Bear. I could see Hagar on the ridge, looking very far away. Its just over a mile, along a class 1 and 2 ridge. I hiked that way, cursing the strong continental divide winds that always seem to be present.

Looking towards Hagar and Citidel

Looking back at where trail tops out, above Loveland

The ridge undulates quite a bit, with about 4-5 small bumps you have to gain, then lose elevation on. Some of them can be barely bypassed without bad sidehilling, however you end up saving maybe 30 vertical feet per bump. The views were fantastic, especially of the quite rough looking 12er Coon hill, and also the Gores.

Ridge towards Hagar


Watermelon snow. It didn't taste like watermelon.

I was also able to scope out my planned descent route. It looked good.

Looking down at Coon Hill and descent route, trail visible in center.

Soon I came to the base of Hagar. It has a fairly steep climb of about 300 feet , which is quite a shocker after the mellow ridge. I proceeded up it, linking together trail remnants and switchbacking. Some of it was loose scree, but generally I was able to stay on grass or rocks.

Hagar false summit.

Once gaining the false summit, I had a good view of Hagars class 3 summit. There is a single tower before the summit, which I bypassed on the right side. After that, I headed straight up the spine to the summit. The rock was quite stable, and it was a fun class 3 section. There is some big exposure on the left side of the ridge.

Hagar class 3 section

The summit is 3 small blocks grouped together. I had trouble telling if the first or second block was the highest, so I tagged them both. However, the summit register was on the first block, so I think its the highest. However, the pipe end was broken. I've seen this before, and this always confuses me, as I can't see it being smashed naturally. Is there some ahole who smashes the pipe then leaves it there? Why?

Looking over middle summit block towards Citidel

The wind was strong at the summit, so I descended to the false summit for a snack. From there, I had a good view of the ridge I would need to take to go down my unmarked trail to make a loop.

Looking back at Hagar false summit

Looking back at ridge to Golden Bear

On the way back, on my second major ridge bump, I began contouring around the bump on the west/north side. I stayed fairly high, which in hindsight was unnecessary, as the saddle drops pretty low.

Hill I contoured around to right. Ridge to Coon Hill on right side.

Coon Hill and ridgeline. Trail visible

Once I gained the saddle ridge, I began to peek over the left side until I could spot the trail. The trail comes up the the ridge in two very close places. I took the first one, which was loose and steep. I think the second trail would have been better.

Trail down to valley

After descending about 300 feet of fairly crappy dirt/scree, the trail flattened out into some beautiful wildflower areas. This side of the valley was about ten times better for wildflowers then the side I took up.



Tunnel facility

After crossing a couple creeks, I rejoined the original trail at the aforementioned cairn with the yellow warning sign.

It was a very warm and pleasant stroll back down to the trailhead. After driving on the loop road over the tunnel, I was able to immediately merge right onto I-70 east.

Loop road above tunnel

Route map

In conclusion, a great loop. It could also be used to loop just Golden Bear.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

08/28/2019 13:54
Now I want to go back and get Hagar!

Glad you found my TR helpful


Very nice!!
08/28/2019 16:18
I used his trip report for this on Monday. Once I left Hagar I went back the way I came and also grabbed UN 12,665.

This should totally be one the standard route for non winter routing.


New favorite
08/28/2019 18:19
I did this route about two weeks ago- I was pleasantly surprised too! The wildflowers are ridiculous! I just did an out and back to Hagar but I lingered on the ridge a long time- it€„¢s a special place, isn€„¢t it?

Followed your lead
07/23/2020 17:17
Thanks for posting this, and thanks Chelsea for posting the initial report! I followed this earlier in the week, and learned from your comments about when to descend to and off of Coon's ridge. Worked out great.


Great Loop
11/17/2020 13:45
Loved the TR! I really need to do this one! What gorgeous weather!

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