July, 2020, we decided to take a road trip to Colorado to do some hiking and see my son and his girlfriend. Our first hike was Mt Sanitas near Boulder, Colorado. After a 10 hour car ride from Iowa, we arrived mid afternoon and were ready to stretch our legs and get started.
Mt Sanitas was not far from where we were staying near Boulder so we decided it would be a good choice since we were just getting to Colorado. In addition, it is only 6,843 feet elevation which seemed a good height for us midwesterners to acclimate to the altitude. We had originally planned on doing the Mt Sanitas Trail and then the Mt. Sanitas Valley Trail to make a loop, unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate so we were only able to get in the Mt. Sanitas trail.
We had a bit of a time finding the trail head. Both the GPS on my phone and on my Jeep led us to private property. We ended up seeing a parking area for Centennial Trailhead just off of Sunshine Canyon Blvd and this was the right spot. There was a map here and the Mt Sanitas trailhead was across the street.
Once we found the trailhead, the trail was easy to follow. You will cross a bridge and then you go right or left. To hike the loop, go either direction and to hike the Mt Sanitas summit, go to the left. The loop trail is 3.2 miles while the summit trail is 2.6 miles (total out and back). If you hike the loop starting to the right, you will have the rough part on the way down.
Up the Trail
The Mt Sanitas Trail is steep and I would call it a moderate-difficult trail. There are lots of steps and most of the trail is rocky with a lot of loose and large rocks to trek over. There are also many big rock steps to climb up. I would not do this trail if you have bad knees or ankles as it seemed like we did a bit of slipping between rocks, slow and sure footing is important here. Even with trekking poles I felt this was almost more difficult on the way down than up.
All of that being said, I really enjoyed this trail. Shortly after you begin you will find a large rocky area to the right which you can scramble up and see a beautiful view of Boulder, you will see this view as you continue your climb.
As you hike further up the Mt Sanitas trail you will be able to see past Boulder and out to the Colorado plains.
To the left, at times, you will view the road below and the foothills and mountains in the background.
To the Top
As you make your way up the trail, it is still steep and becomes more rocky. The scenery becomes more beautiful so all in all I felt worth the effort. We had dark clouds on and off during this hike but when we heard thunder we decided we better turn around. Even though we did not see lightening we wanted to be safe. At this point my Fitbit mapped me at 1.27 miles so I am not 100% sure we made the summit but if not we were very close.
Back Down the Trail
We went back down the way we went up. Nothing remarkable other than some rain drops. Again, the trail was a bit harder to navigate on the way down because of the loose rocks and big steps, but no major issues.
I want to make a comment that I was very impressed with social distancing courtesy on the trails and the wearing of face masks/coverings. People were very good at moving to the side for uphill hikers and hikers going both ways would pull up or put on a face mask before passing people. As a matter of fact, I was impressed with Colorado as a whole when it came to mask wearing, social distancing, and respecting others space.
I plan on doing the Mt Sanitas Trail next time we are in Boulder, Colorado just so I can do the entire loop. I think it is a great trail to start with when first arriving in Colorado. It is a good workout and the views are amazing.
Colorado Chelsea, Hikes and Travels in Colorado and Beyond is a great resource for hiking in Colorado. Chelsea lives in Colorado and has blogged about her many different hikes giving great information on each.
All Trails. All trails is a hiking App that gives information on most every hike known. You can use this app to get an idea of where or what type of hike you want to do. Directions are available as well.
For More Posts of my Colorado Hikes and Road Trips Click on the Links Below:
St Mary’s Glacier Hike Aug 2017
Our Rocky Mountain National Park Trip Aug 2018
14 thoughts on “Mt. Sanitas Hike, Boulder, Colorado”
Looks like a good first trail Hope the weather cooperates during your stay. Glad to hear the other hikers were courteous. Masks are mandated here for stores, but exercising people still do not get that passing others quickly does not equate to social distancing. Stay well and have fun. Allan
Thanks, Allan. It is so bizarre to go from state to state here and have different rules. Where I live in the state of Iowa, there are no mask rules for the state, only individual business that make their own mask rules. In Colorado it’s a mandatory state law to wear a mask. No federal rules here in the states. I felt more safe in Colorado than my own state!! We are home now but had a wonderful time!!! Lori
Here, our provincial government won’t mandate masks (too politically volatile), so cities had to go it on their own and one by one, they are making the right choice. Still, school is supposed to start in a few weeks and even with masks mandated for Grades 4-12 (except in classroom), class sizes are too large for physical distancing. I do not understand why people think this pandemic is political. It does not care about your party stripe. Anyway, I got so angry with our local government, I sent them an E-mail and will be chatting with our MP next week. Not sure if anything will change. Stay well. Lori. Allan
I hear you on the political agendas! I just can’t understand why politicians are running this pandemic and not letting medical persons and scientists make the decisions. As I’m sure you know we are in an election year here. I want a third candidate !!!! Lori
glad to hear about the masks.
I’m impressed that you went for a hike after a 10-hour car drive. I’d want a beer after 10 hours in the car!
Boulder is one of my favorite cities in the U.S., and now you have made it even more appealing by making me aware of this hike…
We love Boulder! Glad my son lives there so I will be traveling there more!! A beer would have been nice but we had more hikes planned and wanted to acclimate a bit before going to Rocky Mountains a couple days later. I did thoroughly enjoy a sangria later that evening!!
I am sure the sangria tasted even better because of the hike!
I don’t think I could spend ten straight hours sitting in a car. But a hike afterward sure does sound like a good idea. Looks really pretty there. As always, I enjoyed your narrative and all the photos. Thanks!
Thank you! 10 hours was tough!!
I’ve been to Boulder twice and both times, when I look east, I think: I can see my house (in MN) from here. You can probably see yours, too. Ha ha!
I’ll have to look for it next time!! Lol
This is a great hike, and I think you’ll enjoy the full loop. It’s much nicer to go down the less steep half of the trail. Hope you’ve been having a good time in Colorado!
We are home now but had a wonderful time! Going back the last day of Sept and first of Oct! Maybe we can get the entire loop done then!!