Tour de Boulder

A walk through the Boulder open space taking in six peaks, 22+ miles or so and many thousands of feet of vertical gain and loss. Nice way to kick off the season.

The Boulder foothills have their prime hiking this time of the year.

The wildflowers are in full bloom, the weather is not too hot and (hopefully!) the snow is gone from the higher foothills.

In years past, we have done a hike that connects the popular peaks of the Boulder’s open space system: S. Boulder Peak, Bear Peak, Green Mountain, Flagstaff, Anenome and Sanitas.  All told, about ~23 miles of hiking (if done as a loop) and many thousands of feet of elev. gain and loss. (Some GPS units or maps have 10k, some have as “little” as 8k.  Let’s call it 9k 🙂 )

This hike is a challenging and fun one that makes for a mini-adventure mere minutes from my home.

The hike started with my buddy Garlic and I meeting at the nearby Boulder courthouse parking lot with its ample parking. From there we did a brisk walk of a little over a mile up to the popular Chautauqua park.

We entered the park and walked down a trail parallel  to the road.  I only had my point and shoot with me, but I could not resist the iconic view of Boulder’s famous Flat Irons.

The golden banner in the meadow was very prevalent as well. In fact, the whole day would have a plethora of early season wildflowers.

We met the rest of our motley crew in the already busy (at 7:15 AM) parking lot and made our way up the Mesa Trail.

A popular and mellow trail that I’ve always dubbed Boulder’s highway.  The views were rather nice, however.

We soon reached Shadow Canyon and made our way up our biggest sustained climb of the day to reach the top of saddle.

The burn damage from 1.5 yrs ago was still very much evident.

S. Boulder Peak was soon reached. Disco was a bit..pleased?…to reach the summit.

A mile or so later, we then reached the second summit of Bear Peak.

From this point, we would slowly start to lose elevation that we’d have to gain again.

We reached the summit of Green. We were half way done with the mileage, the elevation gain and the peaks. Good place to take a bit of a break.

It was also at this point the weather went from sunny to drizzly. The weather was turning. Time to move!

We made our way down Green and over to Flagstaff Road.  The trails showed signs of damage from the September 2013 floods.

At this point, d-low had to split off and make it back home for social obligations.

He did his mandatory “I need a nap” photo first, however. 😉

We said our good-byes and continued on.

We then made our way up and slightly off  trail to the nondescript summit.

Patrick enjoyed posing on the summit block.

We worked our way down Flagstaff, over to Eben G. Fine park and over to Settlers Park. Where European-Americans first called home in Boulder and also the location of some distinctive red rock fins.  We took a brief side trip through them.

From there we climbed up Boulder’s “forgotten” peak of Anemone Hill.  The official trail ends a bit from the modest summit, but there is a well worn use trail leading to the top. On a clear day, the views are quite nice.  Not so much today.

From this summit, we took a quick cross-country route to the new-ish Sunshine Canyon Trail rather than do an out-and-back.

We reached the popular Sanitas trailhead that was empty on this late and drizzly afternoon.   After about 1300′ and 1.6 miles later, we reached our last peak.

The smile says it all.

But we still had to get down. It was getting later. And cold. So we hoisted our packs and down we went.

After coming down the east ridge of Sanitas, we reached the old road. We decided to go for the scenic option and take the parallel and nicer Dakota Ridge trail.

A view to where we were all day. We took the trail to the left.

We did a road walk down to the Boulder County courthouse, closed the loop and enjoyed some cold beverages.

Patrick and Garlic had to head back home.  POD, Disco and myself all enjoyed some libations and FOOD at the Southern Sun.  After many miles of fun and challenging hiking, it was a most welcome repast!

It was nice to finally complete this hike again after three other attempts in the past three years.

We really “threaded the needle” since on Sunday it snowed!  As I type this report, it is still snowing. Our timing was right!

from the Washington Post

from the Washington Post

Fate favors fools, drunks and hikers hoping to do many miles in the Boulder open space! 😉

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Randy Martin
Randy Martin
9 years ago

For a really intense workout to gauge my readiness for 14er season I do just the first part of your hike, S. Boulder, Bear and Green. Love that area.