Hiking Mt. Sanitas Loop via Dakota Ridge Trail
The 3.2-mile Mt. Sanitas loop trail is one of the top 3 most popular hikes in Boulder. It is a great option for visitors to Boulder or anyone who is looking to get in a quick, but substantial workout.
This is a slight variation to the Mt. Sanitas loop via the Sanitas Valley Trail that’s posted on AllTrails.com. You can do the loop in either direction, but I decided to do the loop counter-clockwise via Dakota Ridge Trail, which runs parallel to Sanitas Valley Trail. Compared with Sanitas Valley Trail, Dakota Ridge is more interesting, with less people. I also thought going counter-clockwise would be better in the late afternoon when I went, because the mountain makes East Ridge Trail going uphill shadier as the afternoon goes on, and I expected Mt. Sanitas Trail would still be relatively sunny on my way back. This proved to be the case.
The hike starts out from Centennial Trailhead. You cross the road and pass through the picnic area first. To go counter-clockwise, take the right path from the picnic area along Sanitas Valley Trail.
Soon you will see a connector on your right for Dakota Ridge Trail.
Dakota Ridge Trail
The Dakota Ridge Trail runs parallel to the Sanitas Valley Trail and is more of a hiking trail, with varied terrain, as opposed to the Sanitas Valley Trail, which is wide and flat. This trail is also less trafficked. You hike along this trail for 1 mile.
Near the end of the trail, there is a lovely lookout point and bench –
East Ridge Trail
At the end of Dakota Ridge Trail you connect with the Sanitas Valley Trail for 0.1 miles before reaching East Ridge Trail to go uphill. The switchbacks on East Ridge Trail provide some nice views of the mountains –
And of Boulder –
As you head up, the path gets rockier and you have to scramble a bit.
But the views get better and better as you get higher –
Mt. Sanitas Summit
The summit was packed with people in the late afternoon, getting their workouts in. However, the view from the top of the mountain never disappoints.
Looking south –
Looking north –
Mt. Sanitas Trail
From the summit, you take the Mt. Sanitas Trail back down the mountain to the parking lot. The benefit of doing Mt. Sanitas counter-clockwise is that you are treated to views of the Boulder mountains and Flatirons most of the way down.
Recommended as a Strenuous Hike
This 3.2-mile Mt. Sanitas loop hike is a must-do for anyone living or visiting the area. It features the summit of one of the most popular mountains in Boulder, as well as classic Boulder views. Although the steep hill on East Ridge Trail of 700 ft elevation gain over 0.8 miles can be a bit of challenge, it’s still very doable.