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NCAR-Bear Canyon and Mesa Trail Flood Repairs

Updated: Jan. 23, 2017

Photo of flood damage at Bear Creek crossing


Quick Details

Start date: November 28, 2016
Project length: At least six months, weather dependent
Purpose: Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Department will repair and rebuild the flood-damaged NCAR-Bear Canyon Trail and a Mesa Trail section south of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The project completion will re-establish emergency vehicle access to the area.
Impact: The NCAR-Bear Canyon Trail and a half-mile section of the Mesa Trail will have sectional closures for at least six months. 

Current Closure Conditions

Trail closures will change frequently during this project; please check this site before visiting the area. Trails will be closed in phases to minimize impacts to visitors. Closure details and map are below. Please note that the anticipated timeline is weather permitting. Trail sections not in active construction sites will be closed 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday, and remain open during weekends and evenings. 

Currently Closed

Effective Monday, Jan. 23 the following trails are closed:

  • Intermittently closed 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday:
    • NCAR - Bear Canyon Trail up to the Mesa Trail
    • Mesa Trail from NCAR - Bear Canyon intersection to Mallory Cave Trail intersection
  • Closed full-time (24 hours/day, seven days/week):
    • Mesa Trail from NCAR-Bear Canyon intersection to North Fork Shanahan Trail intersection.
    • Fern Canyon Trail spur from Mesa Trail intersection to Fern Canyon Trail. 
Map of Phase I Trail Closures for Bear Canyon Project

Project Area

Trail closures will change in the project area as the work progresses. Please check back for current closures. 

View a map of the project area pdf.

Map of Mesa/Bear Canyon Project Area

Explore alternate routes or hikes with OSMP’s interactive trail map.

OSMP is working to minimize trail closures as much as possible. However, there may be times when visitors will not be able to travel the length of the Mesa Trail from Chautauqua to the South Mesa Trailhead, or access Fern or Bear canyons from the NCAR trailhead. Trail closures are needed because of destabilized terrain during the construction process and the presence of contractors’ heavy equipment. 

Project/Background Information

This project will repair major damage that the road incurred in the September 2013 floods. Repairs along the trail will: 

  • Photo of flood damage to Bear Canyon Allow emergency vehicles, such as firefighting and search-and-rescue vehicles, access to the area.
  • Improve access for trail users.
  • Provide improved trail drainage and be designed with sustainability in mind so that it will be less susceptible to future flood damage.
  • Provide ecological restoration in valuable riparian habitat areas along the trail.

This is a major flood-recovery project that the city needs to complete by September 2017 in order to receive reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Rebuilding from the 2013 floods is a top department priority. After the floods OSMP prioritized repair work that helped reopen trails and allowed visitors to reconnect with the land. OSMP then prioritized completing infrastructure work that is eligible for reimbursement from FEMA.

Other Trail Improvements in this Area

OSMP has trail crews repairing the flood-damaged NCAR-Bear Connector Trail. No trail closures will occur on this trail during reconstruction.

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