Boulder, CO: Mount Sanitas via Dakota Ridge Trail

This 4-miler starts with a gentle climb along rolling ridgeline, then cranks it up a notch with an obstacle course of steep rock steps and tightly-spaced boulders.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

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 4-mile hike (or trail run) packs plenty of punch for a short outing.
From the Mount Sanitas Trailhead at the west end of Mapleton Avenue, follow the gentle Sanitas Valley Trail to the north up the drainage. After 0.3 mile, turn right onto a dirt path that leads out of the drainage and connects with the Dakota Ridge Trail. Walk along a rolling ridge for the next mile to the base of Mount Sanitas. From here, you’ll navigate a steep obstacle course of switchbacks, rock steps, and giant boulders (and pass expansive views overlooking Boulder). At Sanitas’ small summit, take in expansive views of Boulder and the eastern plains before retracing your route back to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Kim Phillips


Trail Facts

  • Distance: 3.2



Location: 40.020622253418, -105.291679382324

Walk west along Mapleton Avenue for roughly 750 feet to the Mount Sanitas Trailhead on the right side of the road.


Location: 40.020751953125, -105.294166564941

Leave the sidewalk and bear right onto the marked Mount Sanitas Valley Trail. Walk northwest on wide, dirt path.


Location: 40.021240234375, -105.29524230957

Turn right @ signed 4-way junction onto the Mount Sanitas Valley Trail (Mount Sanitas Trail continues straight). Ahead, trail gradually climbs to north up the drainage.


Location: 40.0236968994141, -105.296195983887

Turn right off of Sanitas Valley Trail onto dirt path @ 3-way junction. Climb out of the drainage, heading southeast.


Location: 40.0234069824219, -105.295211791992

Turn left @ 3-way and hike north on the Dakota Ridge Trail.


Location: 40.0250625610352, -105.296173095703

Bear right @ 3-way. Continue gradual climb north.


Location: 40.0275268554688, -105.296173095703

Bear right @ Y-junction to stay on the Dakota Ridge Trail. Ahead, the trail winds across grassy hillsides.


Location: 40.0324440002441, -105.296562194824

Continue heading north on gently rolling trail. Look behind you for views extend across grassy, pine-dotted hillsides to The Flatirons.


Location: 40.0349502563477, -105.297386169434

Continue straight @ 3-way junction (Sanitas Valley Trail enters on the left). A small bench on the right overlooks Boulder.


Location: 40.0343132019043, -105.300285339355

The trail swings to the right; switchback climb ahead.


Location: 40.0346603393555, -105.30110168457

Trail cuts to the left, heading southwest through open forest.


Location: 40.0345153808594, -105.303375244141

Trail passes beneath a gigantic boulder, then curves to the northwest. Walk through fragrant pines.


Location: 40.0347175598144, -105.304374694824

Prepare for a steep obstacle course of rock steps and giant boulders.


Location: 40.0344009399414, -105.305335998535

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. Retrace steps back to trailhead.

Mount Sanitas Trailhead

Location: 40.020751953125, -105.294136047363

First Trail Junction

Location: 40.021240234375, -105.295234680176

Continue straight on Mount Sanitas Trail.

Dakota Ridge Trail

Location: 40.0303688049316, -105.296318054199

Views from Dakota Ridge Trail

Location: 40.0324554443359, -105.296607971191

Dakota Ridge Trail Junction

Location: 40.0349617004394, -105.297370910645

Views to the West

Location: 40.0358772277832, -105.298980712891

Trail Sign

Location: 40.0345001220703, -105.303482055664

Trailside Boulder

Location: 40.0345878601074, -105.303787231445

Summit Views

Location: 40.0344009399414, -105.305305480957

Views stretch across Boulder from the summit of Mount Sanitas.