Barking Boulder

Southwest/West Boulder
By Cindy Hirschfeld
  |  Gorp.com
Page 3 of 4   |  
Just the Facts

Length of Hike: either 3.1 or 2.2 miles round-trip

Getting there: Drive on Mapleton Ave. west from Broadway in downtown Boulder; after the Mapleton Center for Rehabilitation on the corner of 4th St., you'll see several parking turnouts on the right that provide access to the trailhead. Recommended starting point is the picnic shelter right before the small bridge.

Leash laws: Dogs can be off-leash.

Just the Facts

Length of Hike: average trail is about two miles round-trip

Getting there: Drive west on Baseline Rd.; the park entrance is on the left after 9th St.

Leash laws: Dogs can be off-leash except in the large lawn area that fronts the Chautauqua Auditorium and restaurant.

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Mount Sanitas

The Sanitas trails are "doggie central" in Boulder. Your dog will love you for bringing him here if he's the social type, as there are always plenty of opportunities to do the "doggie handshake" (i.e., butt sniffing). And you'll enjoy the panoramic vistas of Boulder and the eastern plains offered at a couple of vantage points as well as the sense of being miles away from population density when you're really just a few minutes from downtown.

Clover's favorite route—best for the aerobically fit dog and owner—involves climbing on the Mount Sanitas Trail, which branches off to the left after the bridge. You'll reach the summit after 1.2 miles of steady climbing (a gain of 1,280 feet). Descend 0.8 mile by the steep East Ridge Trail (shoes with good tread or hiking boots come in handy) and walk along the ridge past the trophy homes until you reach the top of the Sanitas Valley Trail. This wide gravel path descends gradually for 1.1 miles back to your launching point. (If you're into practicing your rock-climbing moves, there are some good bouldering sites along the hike up Sanitas—just look for the signs and chalk marks.)

A less strenuous alternative would be to forgo the vertical and hike along the Valley Trail, which affords views of rolling green hills capped by the famous Flatirons. Or your dog may prefer to hike up the Valley Trail and return on the one-mile Dakota Ridge Trail, which begins to the right of the Valley Trail's "summit" and eventually rejoins this trail about three-quarters of the way down.

A small brook by the picnic shelter provides a cooling rest for your dog after hiking and socializing. A "swimming hole" about halfway up the Sanitas Valley Trail on the left is usually full of water in the summer, and a trickling rivulet on the trail's right provides the opportunity for some slurps. As there are no water sources on the Mount Sanitas Trail, you may want to bring extra water to share with your dog.

Chautauqua Park

This is perhaps Boulder's best-known spot for hiking and playing, with a stunning location at the base of the town's Signature Flatirons. It's wise to avoid this area midday on warm, sunny weekends (summer or winter), when everyone and their dog seem to come here (pardon the play on words). Several trails originate from here, including the popular Mesa Trail, which runs almost seven miles south to Eldorado Springs. For great views of Boulder, hike to Saddle Rock or Royal Arch (both are slightly more than two miles round-trip and involve some climbing).


© Article copyright Fulcrum Books. All rights reserved.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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