Taking the Mount Sanitas Challenge!

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 –

Mini flatirons on Mount Sanitas

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.

Trail map and info of Mount Sanitas in Boulder, Colorado

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.

Beautiful Boulder wildflowers on Mount Sanitas

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.

Mount Sanitas Trail

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!

A view of Boulder from Mount Sanitas

After an hour hike, we made it to the top. Amazing views, don’t you think?

Top of Mount Sanitas

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.

Wildflowers on Mount Sanitas

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. 

Family photo on Sanitas

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!

Overlooking the Flatirons from Mount Sanitas. Click for photos and a guide to one of Boulder's best hikes! Outdoor adventures | Boulder travel | Colorado vacations | Colorado hikes | Boulder hikes | Travel North America #Colorado #Coloradohikes #Boulder #Bouldertravel #outdooradventures

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Hiking Mount Sanitas in Boulder, Colorado. Click for photos and a guide to one of Boulder's best hikes! Outdoor adventures | Boulder travel | Colorado vacations | Colorado hikes | Boulder hikes | Travel North America #Colorado #Coloradohikes #Boulder #Bouldertravel #outdooradventures

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45 thoughts on “Taking the Mount Sanitas Challenge!

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  1. Not a hiker, but I admire your stamina in doing it – not to mention Danny’s.

    One time when my mother lived in Denver – probably about the time you were born – she took me to a restaurant on a ridge somewhere up there with a fantastic view of the whole Denver area. That was the early 70’s, so it’s probably not even there any more.


    1. Thanks, David! I can hike and I remember fast-walking it but I’ll never be a trail runner.

      I bet it was The Flagstaff House. It’s been around since 1954! Amazing views. I am overdue for one of their spectacular meals.


  2. I had knee surgery in August and then broke my kneecap on that knee in May. I’m just getting back to the elliptical and cardio work out. Walking a trail was a little slow since I had an isolation brace. (One leg stiff as a board) I’m now in a flex brace and it is so much better. Am looking forward to the trails again. Glad you could do it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. OMG! I had no idea, John. That sounds super painful. I’m glad to hear you’re on the mend.
      It takes longer for me to heal as I get older. I think there’s something magical about getting outdoors to stretch my legs too. Enjoy the sunshine!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This looks awesome Susie!

    I have a love/hate relationship with those uber-evelation gain workout hikes. I mean it’s great that you get such gorgeous views after such a short hike, but I always hate them for the first 20 minutes when your heart is beating so strongly it feels like it might burst!

    p.s. I love the photo with you and your kids!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Josy!

      It is hard going for the first thirty minutes, then it gets technical. I’ve never heard of anyone getting hurt on the trail, but I’m sure people have fallen just about anywhere. It’s a great workout, so why am I not doing it every day? Lol!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love to hike and I’m going to add this to my list for the next time I visit the Boulder area. Have you ever hiked the Grand Canyon? If not, I highly recommend it as a “face your fears” bucket-list adventure (especially if you do it in August, like I did).


    1. Hey Audrey! Yes, definitely do this one with your family. Allow some time to take in the views! And catch your breath like me. LOL!

      Danny has hiked the Grand Canyon in August, but I haven’t had the pleasure. 🙂 I heard it’s tough!!!


  5. Lots of comments, Susie

    1. Of all the many visits we’ve made to Colorado, among all the scenic glory (mountains, aspens, rivers and lakes, etc.) the red rocks stand out as the most unique and mesmerizing. And no outdoor theater anywhere could rival the Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

    2. That is not a hiking trail, that is a Navy Seal obstacle course!

    3. Never knew about the Goldielocks version of Susie.

    4. Whether it’s hiking, walking, running, whatever. Downs NEVER cancel ups.

    5. The picture of you gazing out at the summit is exquisite! Danny has a marvelous eye for composition.

    6. We do most of our hiking here at First Landing State Park (where the Jamestown settlers first landed before moving further up the James River). On one trail there is actually an elevation change of 65 feet! I take a break about half-way up to avoid altitude sickness!

    Have a great day!


    1. I’ll put First Landing State Park on my list, but will be sure to be in shape for that steep elevation. LOL!

      Yes! Blond hair to match my naturally blond kids back in the day. 🙂 Their hair has gotten darker and mine has gotten redder.

      Ah, Red Rocks. I need to go to a show this summer!

      Enjoy the weekend, Al!!!


  6. Brilliant post Susie, you did so well getting up and back in that time. Your dad would be proud of you. Love the story about him, makes that climb even more meaningful doesnt it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Jonno!

      It really was amazing to think that he did that whole hike in loafers. Never complained. Never out of breath. Amazing!!! A great memory for my family and every time hike Sanitas!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I like to hike but I can’t do a super hard hike for a long period of time. Short, steep hikes are okay, but I’d prefer longer, more levels hikes. I hiked to the top of a waterfall once and that was exhilarating but scary especially since the rocks were slick from the spray from the falls.

    Great photos! Looks like the perfect day for a hike.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dude! They view from the top is AMAZING! I absolutely love this picture and I’m so glad you reached the top once again. Those rocks did look ginormous though. Glad you did it and did it on your own time. Great shot of you and the kids too! Have a great weekend:)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Susie, be careful and keep Roxy and Danny on a leash if you’re in mining country, I come across my share of open mine shafts and those that were covered by old planks and timbers now have rotted wood. so be careful up their. you can always check mining maps for entrance and chimney holes. Very dangerous, don’t go near them as many go down straight vertical for hundreds or thousands of feet. The U.S. Government has been blowing the tunnels and blocking the entrances, but there are a lot of them out there. They safe and have lots of fun. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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