Can you Outrun a Bear? (They Can Run 35 Mph)

Humans can’t outrun bears. Bears are very fast on all terrains and trying to run away from them is never a good idea.

Bears are fast runners. Most can run at about 35 mph. They can run downhill, uphill, and even up trees. Seeing a bear in the wild while on a hike or a camping trip may instantly make people want to run for their lives, but this is rarely successful.

In case of a bear encounter, it’s always smarter to stand tall, talk loudly but calmly so the bear knows you are there, and back away slowly.

And don’t forget to bring bear spray into any bear country so you can protect yourself, and know how to use it. Running may cause the bear to chase you.

Can you Outrun a Bear

This article will explore how fast different bear species are if it’s possible to outrun them or not.

Can you Outrun a Bear? (Table Summary of Bear Ground Speed)

AnimalTop Running SpeedFaster than a Human?
Grizzly Bear35mphFaster
Brown Bear35mphFaster
Polar Bear25mphSimilar Speed

How Fast Are Grizzly Bears?

Grizzly bears are very fast: their massive size doesn’t prevent them from running fast at up to 35 mph!

Because of their speed and size, grizzly bears are life-threatening to humans, especially if they’re surprised or if humans are near a mother grizzly and her cubs.

According to Yellow Stone Bear World, even the fastest man in the world couldn’t outrun a grizzly. His average speed of running and the average human sprint are still slower than the top speed of grizzly bears. 

However, the fastest runner in the world may be able to outrun a lumbering polar bear or an Asiatic black one. Even in this situation, maintaining top speed is possible for one to two seconds in humans whereas records from Yellowstone National Park show that a bear can keep up a speed of 25 to 28 mph for 2 miles!

While the grizzly bear is fast, it struggles to outrun many wild animals, meaning it tends to scavenge rather than chase down dear or other ungulates.

If it comes across a pack of deer or elk, it’s most likely going to try to catch fauns who are too small to keep up with their fleeing parents. Here is some footage of a hungry grizzly trying in vein to catch elk:

Grizzly Bear Fact File

Grizzly bears are a North American subspecies of brown bears.

This bear is usually brown, although its fur may look like it is white-tipped or grizzled-hence the name. They are protected by law in the continental US (not in Alaska), but there have been attempts to remove these protections in recent years.

Grizzly bears are giants that prefer spending time alone, with the exception of females and their cubs. However, there have also been gatherings of these bears at Alaskan fishing spots when salmon runs upstream for summer spawning.

During this period, dozens of grizzlies may gather to feast and get the needed fats that will keep them energized throughout the winter.

Despite its size, the grizzly eats mostly berries, fruits, nuts, roots, and leaves, but can also eat other animals, including moose and rodents.

How Fast Are Black Bears?

Black bears are the fastest bear species and can run up to 35 mph.

Black bears are excellent runners thanks to their huge and muscular legs that propel them forward at high speed. Plus, their longer back legs also help them reach fast speed.

Black Bears are common in Maine, Alaska, and the forested US-Canada border regions.

Read More: How to Scare Away a Bear

You will often see young black bears running after one another in a playful way. However, they will also chase away potential competitors.

They may also run after humans if the human runs away. This is because it triggers a fight response. For this reason, it’s highly recommended that you don’t run away from a bear. It will just make them more likely to attack!

Interestingly, they’re also extremely fast at climbing trees (they even sleep in trees!). You can see an example of a bear rapidly scaling a tree in this footage:

Black Bear Fact File

The black bear is the most familiar and most common bear in the north of America. They live in forests and have excellent tree climbing skills, but they can also be seen in swamps and mountains.

In addition to being a good runner and swimmer, the American black bear is also an omnivore.

Although their name indicates a black color, their fur can also be blue-gray or blue-black, cinnamon, brown, and even, but very rarely, white.

Considered to be highly efficient hibernators, these bears can sleep for months without drinking, urinating, eating, or defecating. This bear also tends to spend time alone, except for moms with cubs in breeding season or when they get together at feeding locations.

This bear is described as an opportunistic eater-most of the food they eat is grass, berries, roots, and insects, as well as fish and mammals, but can also develop a taste for human food and garbage.

This is why bears should never be fed because. They can become dangerous and end up being killed or humans being attacked!

How Fast Are Polar Bears?

Polar bears may be slower than the black bear and the grizzly, but they’re still very fast runners when they’re being chased or chasing prey. They can reach a speed of up to 25 mph!

Feared and respected for centuries, this majestic creature’s bulkiness makes it expend a lot of calories when it’s sprinting. They also overheat quickly when running. For these reasons, they can’t run for too long and will usually take a dip in the freezing ocean after a chase.

Like grizzlies and black bears, polar bears know they aren’t great at outrunning prey. They therefore prefer to ambush seals as they dive out of water onto icebergs, or raid birds nests for eggs.

They’re also good swimmers and can swim around 6 miles per hour and cover large distances with their big bodies.

Polar Bear Fact File

Polar bears have a life expectancy of around 25 years in the wild. When they reach old age, they become too weak and unable to hunt which results in starvation and death.

Similar to other species of bears, polar bears are solitary and can only be seen in groups when it’s a mother with her cubs or if a pair is breeding.

Despite not being deep hibernators, polar bears still go into a state of lethargy.

However, their body temperature doesn’t drop a lot and their bodily functions continue. Only polar bear females, especially if pregnant, go into hibernation from the period of October or November to March or April.

Although they generally avoid humans, with the thinning of the ice, they reach human habitats more often and eventually investigate for food. Polar bear conflicts with humans are rare, but when they happen, they can be dangerous.


Outrunning a bear may not be possible, but the good news is that bears, like most other animals, avoid humans. When bears (and other animals) attack, it’s mostly for defense, food, and territory.

Bears run to chase down other animals for food (although they’re not often successful) and use their speed to run away from other predators.

Bears are fast runners because of their big and muscular legs, as well as their longer back legs that help them achieve high speed.

The American black bear is the fastest runner with its impressive ability to reach 35 mph. Although polar bears are slower than the black bear and the grizzly with a 25 mph average speed of running, this species is still huge and fast and can never be outrun by a human.

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