Click thumbnail to view full-size photo + caption
Open This Route in a New Window
From the suggested parking area for the Eisenhower Tunnel west side, follow a roughly paved road east that turns to gravel and passes by a building on the north side. Continue following the road as it then turns north and heads up the valley. The road will soon terminate and become a double track, which soon reduces to a trail. The trail stays on the east side of the creek and passes through clumps of willows. There are numerous displays of Columbine along the way.
Follow the trail until it switchbacks at 11,880 feet. There is another trail that branches off here and heads generally north, then swings west to join the ridge above the valley on the west side. This path could be used to access Coon Hill if so desired. Otherwise, from the switchback, continue following the trail SE and east as it begins to gain elevation more seriously. The trail/old roadbed will turn south and then come to another switchback at 12,240 feet. Make the turn and walk to yet another switchback at 12,360 ft. At this point, we would suggest departing the trail and heading in a generally easterly direction to gain the ridge above. This ridge is also on the Continental Divide. Most of the gain will be on steeper, but easy to handle tundra. Once on the ridge, follow it north to the summit of Golden Bear. Along the way, you'll pass at least a couple of "humps" before arriving at the rather indistinguishable summit. You may encounter some patches of rocky rubble along the way, but most of the remaining hike is still on tundra. In low clouds, it may be difficult to ascertain if you've hiked to the highest point. You may want to check your GPS.
For the trip back, while it is possible, we would not suggest a descent directly west, to intersect the trail you used earlier farther down because of some rough sections of rubble. It's best to walk back to the south before launching your descent. Otherwise, continue north on the Continental Divide to Hagar Mountain, passing over tri-county high point along the way.