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At first glance, the 6,863-foot summit of Mount Sanitas may seem modest compared to the 8,000-foot peaks dotting the ridgeline west of Boulder, but this 3.4-mile hike (or trail run) packs plenty of punch for a short outing.
Start at the west end of Mapleton Avenue and hike northwest along a brief, 0.2-mile flat stretch up the Sanitas Valley Trail. From here, you’ll navigate a steep obstacle course of log steps, rock slabs, and giant boulders (and climb 1,100 feet in one mile) past overlooks of both the foothills and mountain canyons to the west. At Sanitas’ small summit, take in expansive views of Boulder and the eastern plains before tackling an equally steep and rocky descent of the mountain’s eastern slopes. Two miles into the hike, the route merges onto the Dakota Ridge Trail for an easy walk back to Mapleton Avenue.
-Mapped by Kim Phillips
- Distance: 5.5
Location: 40.0206298828125, -105.29167175293
Walk west along Mapleton Avenue for roughly 750 feet to the Mount Sanitas Trailhead on the right side of the road.
Location: 40.0207748413086, -105.294143676758
Leave the sidewalk and bear right onto the marked Mount Sanitas Valley Trail. Walk northwest on wide, dirt path.
Location: 40.0212326049805, -105.29524230957
Continue straight @ signed 4-way junction onto the Mount Sanitas Trail (Mount Sanitas Valley Trail veers to the right). Ahead, trail cuts through a grassy field punctuated with rocky outcroppings.
Location: 40.0214729309082, -105.295860290527
Keep straight @ 4-way.
Location: 40.0215759277344, -105.296569824219
Climb up several log steps shaded by trees, then cross a short wooden footbridge. Ahead, the trail winds to the west through open pine forest.
Location: 40.0214157104492, -105.29761505127
The steep, rocky ascent begins. Tackle a series of log and rock steps that climb up the ridgeline.
Location: 40.0223007202148, -105.298095703125
Pass a popular bouldering site on the right. Continue climbing north.
Location: 40.022834777832, -105.298561096191
Pass another climbing access on right. Giant sandstone outcrops flank the trail on the right.
Location: 40.023738861084, -105.298698425293
Continue steep climb up ridge.
Location: 40.0256271362305, -105.299797058105
The trail skirts a massive boulder on the left. Stand on top of this rock overlook for views into Sunshine Canyon to the west.
Location: 40.0266990661621, -105.300285339355
This ridgeline vantage point offers expansive views east across Boulder.
Location: 40.0279388427734, -105.301376342773
Climb steep rock steps; vibrant wildflowers pepper the grassy slopes that border the trail to the east.
Location: 40.0288734436035, -105.302352905273
Squeeze through a narrow gap in boulders that block the trail, then climb northwest up rock slabs dotted with seasonal wildflowers.
Location: 40.0298080444336, -105.303062438965
Trail briefly curves around the west side of the mountain. Continue hiking northwest up ridge.
Location: 40.0331993103027, -105.305114746094
The final 500-foot stretch to the summit travels up another set of rock steps; pine trees flank the trail.
Location: 40.0344009399414, -105.305297851562
Mount Sanitas (6,863 ft.): A metal rod marks this small, rocky summit. Rest your legs while taking in the expansive views of Boulder and the eastern plains. Next: Begin the steep and rocky descent of Sanitas’ eastern slopes.
Location: 40.0346870422363, -105.304359436035
Terrain levels out for next 0.1 mile. Ahead, trail switchbacks to the right, heading southeast.
Location: 40.0345687866211, -105.303764343262
Travel beneath a gigantic boulder that towers over the trail. Next, the trail cuts between two tightly-spaced boulders (follow the small trail signs attached to a fallen log).
Location: 40.034610748291, -105.301048278809
Trail cuts to the right, heading south.
Location: 40.0343208312988, -105.300315856934
Bear left @ 3-way. Trail descends to the north.
Location: 40.0349502563477, -105.297370910645
Bear left @ Y-junction onto the Dakota Ridge Trail (Sanitas Valley Trail forks to the right down the drainage). Hike south along rolling ridgeline.
Location: 40.0324440002441, -105.296562194824
Continue heading south on gentle trail. Views extend across grassy, pine-dotted hillsides to The Flatirons.
Location: 40.0275115966797, -105.296142578125
Keep straight @ 3-way.
Location: 40.0250396728516, -105.29615020752
Turn left @ T-junction.
Location: 40.0234031677246, -105.295188903809
Turn right @ T-junction for gentle descent to the Sanitas Valley Trail.
Location: 40.0236740112305, -105.296195983887
Turn left @ T-junction onto the Sanitas Valley Trail. Head south to Waypoint 3, then turn left and retrace steps to trailhead.
Mount Sanitas Trailhead
Location: 40.0207824707031, -105.29411315918
First Trail Junction
Location: 40.021240234375, -105.295257568359
Continue straight on Mount Sanitas Trail.
Location: 40.0213661193848, -105.295593261719
Location: 40.0215644836426, -105.296501159668
Location: 40.0215301513672, -105.296859741211
Location: 40.0214614868164, -105.297149658203
Location: 40.0214042663574, -105.297607421875
Location: 40.0228233337402, -105.298545837402
Location: 40.0256500244141, -105.299797058105
Location: 40.0259170532227, -105.299873352051
Location: 40.0263137817383, -105.300003051758
Views to the Southwest
Location: 40.0265007019043, -105.300155639648
Views of Boulder
Location: 40.0266990661621, -105.300285339355
Location: 40.0275115966797, -105.301063537598
Location: 40.0279197692871, -105.30135345459
Views to the South
Location: 40.0283851623535, -105.301948547363
Location: 40.0290946960449, -105.302612304688
Wildflowers punctuate the rocky terrain.
Location: 40.0343780517578, -105.305252075195
Views stretch across Boulder from the summit of Mount Sanitas.
Location: 40.0345764160156, -105.303749084473
Location: 40.0345306396484, -105.303298950195
Views to the West
Location: 40.0358352661133, -105.298980712891
Dakota Ridge Trail Junction
Location: 40.0349617004394, -105.297370910645
Views from Dakota Ridge Trail
Location: 40.0324363708496, -105.29655456543
Dakota Ridge Trail
Location: 40.0303649902344, -105.29630279541