Mount Sanitas: First Boulder Hike


Mount Sanitas Loop: 3.1 miles


Elevation gain: 1343 feet 


Difficulty: Moderate



When choosing a city I wanted to move to, the proximity of the mountains was a huge draw for Boulder. I love both hiking and skiing, and I want to share my hiking adventures and recommendations here. Plus, I bought the book Plants of the Rocky Mountains, so here is my attempt at a plant identification hobby!

I hiked up the Mount Sanitas Ridge trail and then took the Mount Sanitas East Ridge and Mount Sanitas Valley trail for the trip back. The hike up is moderate/strenuous. The view at the top is a spectacular view looking down upon Boulder and the Front Range.

It is a really exposed trail, so wear sunscreen! I am speaking from experience… My shoulders were bright red at the end of this hike. Overall, it was a beautiful first hike in Boulder! I supposed I do not have much to compare it to, but as I tackle all the trails in the area, I will come back and rank my favorites. This one is so convenient I know I will be back! And I felt really comfortable hiking on my own, which is good and bad. If you want solitude on your hike, this isn’t the one. I couldn’t believe how many people I saw at 11AM on a weekday!

Highlights of my hike:

1. A blooming Plains Pricklypear (or Opuntia polyacantha)

Why was this particular flower my number one highlight?

Because when I saw it I thought I might be going crazy OR found a Colorado insect eating plant. Those Anthers (the center area) were moving around like insect eating tentacles! I was definitely panting by this point in the hike, but I didn’t think I was delusional yet. While it doesn’t eat bugs like a venus fly trap, I was not crazy! Here is a video to prove it!  The magical moving cactus flower.

2. Spotting a Stellar Jay

I thought I had just spotted a rare, endangered species as I scrambled to take pictures. Turns out, this is a bird that you can spot all the way across the western side of North America. But hey, I am from the southeast and I had never seen anything like it!


(Common Harebell)

Fun fact: The Navajo rubbed this flower on their bodies to protect them during a hunt and from witches!


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