Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mt. Sanitas

Distance: 3.4 mile loop
Elevation: 5,520 ft - 6,843 ft
Elevation Gain: 1,323 ft (net) 1,444 ft (cumulative)
Bathroom at Trailhead: Yes
Dogs: Off leash with Boulder green tag
Date Hiked: 13 April 2013
Tags: #Boulder, #osmp, #peak, #hiking, #coloradooutdoors

View of Boulder from the Mt. Sanitas Trail
Hiking up Mt. Sanitas in Boulder is like hiking a mini 14er.  It is rocky, straight up, and is blessed with false summit after false summit.  It is also crowded with locals who swarm up the trail in their own personal quests for maximum cardio vascular fitness. Feeling similarly, Mt. Sanitas along with Royal Arch and Gregory Canyon are my favorite spring training hikes. They will get the quads in shape for summer hiking and burn sufficient calories to make eating chicken wings less of a guilt trip.

The parking area
The beginning of the Mt. Sanitas Trail.  Mt. Sanitas is a large hogback ridge (the harder remnants of an eroded uplift of sedimentary rock).
The initial part of the trail is a long series of log steps.
While crowded, Mt. Sanitas is not for everyone.  There are wooden steps, rock clefts, loose gravel, and moves that requires some grunt-producing lunges upwards.  If you are used to a well-defined trail or have knee issues, skip this one. If on the other hand you want a taste of real hiking close to home, give it a whirl.  The views along the way of Boulder to the east and the Indian Peaks to the west will make it fun indeed. Unless you are one of the "ubers" running the trail, having both hands free is recommended for the occasionally required rock scrambling . On this trip I carried my large camera and was at a distinct disadvantage. 

A smoother, dirt section of the route
Looking down on the Sanitas Valley Trail and Dakota Ridge (another hogback) Trail
A more typical rocky section
The trailhead for Mt. Sanitas is located on Mapleton Road in Boulder. Within the last few years, Boulder built a new parking lot across the street with a bathroom. This lot still fills up early on weekends and cars will be seen parking down the street for at least a mile. Check out the parking lot first, however, you never know when a spot will open up.

You won't be alone on this trail
View of Indian Peaks
The summit
Heading down the East Ridge Trail
The route starts paralleling Mapleton for 80 yards or so and then crosses over at a small pavilion.  The trail is directly behind this. There won't be any issues of finding the route.  Just follow the steps and the people in front of you.

Having two hands is handy for both the ascent and descent of Mt. Sanitas.
More uplifted rocks
The habitations of the wealthy set cling like barnacles to the northern extent of the Sanitias Valley.
After a lung busting 1.4 miles and 1,323 feet of elevation gain, you reach the rocky summit.  At this point, there are two choices.  Descend back down the Mount Sanitas Trail, or scurry down the East Ridge Trail to the upper reaches of the Sanitas Valley, a wide open space between Mt. Sanitas and the Dakota Ridge. There is a wide fire road (Sanitas Valley Trail) that traverses Sanitas Valley and more narrow trail that travels along the edge of Dakota Ridge. Both will take you to the bottom.  I always prefer to do this hike as a loop, and do descend via the fire road.

Approaching the bottom of the East Ridge Trail

The wide Sanitas Valley Trail.  We had to put Ginger on a leash here due to recent Coyote activity.
Map of the loop

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