Mt Sanitas Loop Trail, Mt Sanitas Trailhead - Mapleton Road, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado
Mt Sanitas Loop Trail - 3.1 miles
Mt Sanitas Trailhead - Mapleton Road
|Round-Trip Length:||3.1 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||5,520' - 6,843' (6,843' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,323' net elevation gain (+1,357' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Tectonic forces along northern Colorado's front range created ripples that forced rock layers to bulge and compress, creating anticlines - or convex folds on the earth's surface. As the bulging anticlines' softer sediments eroded, only hard ridges - known as Hogbacks - remained from previously rounded hilltops between the eastern plains and Rocky Mountain uplift.
Mt Sanitas is one such formation that stands above all others in central Boulder, Colorado.
The Mt Sanitas West Ridge Trail and Sanitas Valley Trail form a short but challenging loop to its rugged summit, and along its east face. The following description begins on Mapleton Road and travels clockwise from the West Ridge to Sanitas Valley Trail:
Cross the bridge and turn left twice to pick up the Mt Sanitas West Ridge Trail. The trail climbs steeply and ruggedly for .85 miles before moderating on a thin ridge with good southwest views across Sunshine Canyon and Chautauqua Park.
It bends north on the final approach to the Mt Sanitas summit (1.2 miles : 6,843'). Space is limited, but easy to maneuver about for panoramic views of the lower foothills, eastern plains and Indian Peaks.
The trail continues north, abruptly diving down a series of steep, rugged and tightly-wound switchbacks. You'll negotiate several sparingly marked switchbacks through car-sized boulders (1.4 miles) before turning sharply south (1.65 miles).
The trail edges back east through an open hillside to the Sanitas Valley Trail (1.95 miles : 6,080'). The Sanitas Valley Trail - a wide fire road - glides gently south between Dakota Ridge and the east face of Sanitas.
Those seeking a longer route can divert on and off one of three spurs for the adjacent Dakota Ridge Trail. The Sanitas Valley Trail completes the loop and leads back to all parking areas on Mapleton Road.
Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View Interactive Google Map
- N40 01.242 W105 17.649 — Mt Sanitas Trailhead
- N40 01.957 W105 18.283 — 1.05 miles : Bending north on summit approach
- N40 02.062 W105 18.314 — 1.2 miles : Mt Sanitas summit
- N40 02.067 W105 18.23 — 1.4 miles : Marked switchbacks on descent
- N40 02.152 W105 17.935 — 1.95 miles : Merge with Sanitas Valley Trail - fire road
- N40 01.744 W105 17.840 — 2.05 miles : Dakota Ridge Trail (northernmost access)
- N40 01.242 W105 17.649 — 3.1 miles : Mt Sanitas Trailhead
- Parking is limited at the trailhead, and street regulations are strictly enforced.
- Coyote, fox, mule deer and raptors are commonly seen on the Mt Sanitas Loop Trail. Though rarely encountered, mountain lion, bear and rattlesnakes also inhabit this area. Be mindful of your surroundings, especially at dawn and dusk.
- Mt Sanitas was named after the sanitarium (health spa) that is now the Mapleton Medical Center.
- Sandstone was quarried here for original buildings on the CU campus.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs must be leashed in the parking and trailhead areas. Beyond the trailhead, dogs must be leashed unless they meet Voice and Sight Control Standards and display a City of Boulder Voice and Sight Tag.
- Climbing and bouldering are permitted from three designated access points along the Mt Sanitas West Ridge Trail (southern portion of loop). Respect seasonal closures for nesting raptors.
- Bicycles are not permitted on the Mt Sanitas Loop Trail.
Directions to Trailhead
The Mt Sanitas Trailhead is located on Mapleton Road in Boulder, Colorado.
From Boulder, take Broadway to Mapleton Road and turn west. The Mt Sanitas Trailhead and roadside parking area is located just past the Mapleton Medical Center on the north side of the road.
City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks