Hiking the Behunin Creek Trail to Bear Flat

We often find good places on accident and such was the case with the Behunin Creek Trail. As we traveled east along Scenic Byway 12 we’d had our eyes open for a hike and a place to camp when Tom spotted a small parking area adjacent to a sunny meadow. After grabbing our hiking packs we began walking along the forest road, passing meadows and ponderosa forest as we slowly gained elevation. A mile and a half or so later however we came upon the trailhead for Behunin Creek and decided to give it a try.

As we approached the creek the trail quickly transitioned from predominantly ponderosa to aspen and spruce; once we crossed the water we found ourselves walking through lovely grassy meadows towards a pond populated by serenading frogs. At this point the route turned into the thick spruce tree cover and we began a steep climb up Boulder Mountain. Snow appeared in the hollows and shaded sections, but the trail was mostly clear until we reached the burned out section. It was from there that we were able to get our first views east to Little Bown’s Reservoir and Capitol Reef. After some picture-taking we made our final ascent up a particularly snowy drainage, emerging at Bear Flat, a grassy meadow ringed by aspen and dotted with volcanic rock. We roamed the open area in search of the best views before deciding to turn around: We had climbed 1,100 feet of steep trail to get to the flat – which was at 9,800 ft – and neither of us felt like continuing on up Boulder Mountain and fighting more snow. It had been a lovely hike, particularly because we hadn’t had any expectations, but we agreed we’d come back sometime in fall to see the aspens in their splendor.

Overnight neighbors at our campsite: