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The exposure grade describes the potential consequences of falling or slipping off the path.
Low Exposure: The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.
Medium Exposure: The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.
High Exposure: Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.
Extreme Exposure: Some trail sections are extremely exposed where falling will almost certainly result in serious injury or death.
The Bear Mountain trail begins at a very popular trailhead, which requires a recreation pass (either a Red Rock Pass or a Federal Interagency Pass).
Park at the Doe/Bear Mountain trailhead, but cross the Boynton Canyon road to find the start of the hike.
The top of Bear Mountain is not visible from this point. The hike begins as a deceptively mellow grade; savor that 1/3 mile, because it will get much steeper! The remaining 2.1 miles gain 2,100', including a few significant wash crossings for some loss and re-gain of elevation.
The surrounding red rock formations are excellent visual diversions from the steep ascent.
It is well worth stopping frequently to drink in the views...
and to let the legs recover from the many, many rock step-ups that comprise the route. This trail is not technically difficult, but does require some minor scrambling to get up through a narrow, rocky passage.
There is also some exposure to major drop-offs.
Trekking poles are very useful on the hike up and even more so on the descent. When the trail crosses areas of slickrock, look for white painted arrows to follow the route.
Sometimes these arrows are highly obvious, but sometimes take a bit of searching. The top of Bear Mountain doesn't have a stereotypical “summit”; it is more broad, expansive terrain.
The end of the trail is marked, appropriately enough, by a wood sign that says, “End of Trail”.
From that point, there are truly magnificent views, enhanced by the light from a setting sun, if hiked in the late afternoon.
Across from Bear Mountain is Doe Mountain, the top of which is a large, extremely flat plateau. On the descent, stay aware of the white arrows and the trail itself; it is just a bit easier to get off-track on the return.
Plan on ample time for this hike, it is not much faster to descend than ascend due to the large rocks that require careful stepping down.