Boulder is known for its red rocks, which slice through the foothills in flat angular slabs known at the Flatirons. For a view of the Flatirons, Boulder, the Front Range and beyond, there is no better hike that Mount Sanitas. They even have their own mini flatirons –
The trailhead starts on Mapleton Avenue at the end of one of the oldest established neighborhoods, Mapleton Hill. According to All Trails, the path rises to 1257 feet and the complete loop is 3.17 miles long. The screenshot below is from All Trails.
All Trails considers this a difficult hike. It is! The quick elevation gain is like walking stadium steps. Huge stadium steps. Huge, irregular stadium steps that require concentration while navigating around uneven rock.
That said, runners sprint up and down the trail as if it’s a warmup jog.
Back when my kids attended a nearby kindergarten, I would barely complete the hike before they would be released for the day. So, when a friend of mine said he hiked it in forty-five minutes, I was skeptical. “Ah… no.”
It had been a long time since I’d hiked Mount Sanitas. After my knee surgery, it was recommended by my orthopedic surgeon. “Hike Mount Sanitas every day and you’ll rebuild your muscle.” It had atrophied after surgery. I couldn’t lift my leg one inch off the couch! Yeah, I needed to rebuild it all right.
After one hike where I slipped a few times and turned around about halfway up, I didn’t go back. I didn’t want to fall. But, this year is different. Everything is different. It’s my year of change, facing old fears, saying yes to challenges and adventure, and moving forward.
I knew it would take a lot longer than forty-five minutes, so my husband, Danny, and I packed water and drove to the trailhead.
The steps in the beginning of the trail were exactly how I remembered them. Humongous! I never take pictures in that area since I’m too busy focusing on my feet. This part is higher up and a bit easier; a bit being two key words.
The day was cool and there weren’t too many people hiking for a Sunday afternoon. My legs felt strong as we increased elevation. I had to stop a few times to give my heart a rest. Kaboom! Kaboom! Kaboom!
After an hour hike, we made it to the top. Amazing views, don’t you think?
The next part could be pretty hairy. I always find hiking down any trail more difficult. Dirt from towering pine trees and eroding rock can make footing dicy. Hiking poles would help a ton. Note to self: Bring hiking poles next time.
I used my hands to help myself down the steep trail on the other side of the overlook. Biking gloves would have been nice. Clinging to rough sharp rock proved difficult at times.
Flowers bloomed everywhere! It’s been quite a year for them after such a cool wet spring, unusual for Colorado.
We finally made it to the wide open gravel trail back down to the trailhead. By the time we made it to the car, it had taken us two hours and twenty minutes. We stopped a few times so I could take pictures.
I found one of my favorite photos of hiking Sanitas when our kids were little. My dad took the photo. He had a heart attack two years before, so I worried about how he would handle this treacherous hike. He insisted he would be okay.
This was taken on the trail back down the mountain.
While I stopped to catch my breath, I had asked him several times if he was okay. He always answered, “I’m fine.” He was never out of breath. Amazing. And he wore leather loafers. I couldn’t imagine how he did so well in high elevation after driving from Wisconsin, no less!
My only regret is not taking a picture of him and the kids.
It took us a while to hike that afternoon and the sun had set by the time we made it home. My mom remembers how she had worried. We made it safe and sound.
Another perfect day!
Do you like to hike? What’s your favorite escape?
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