Hiking Project Logo

Dakota Ridge to Sanitas Valley Loop

  4.0 ( 7 ) Favorite


2.3 mile 3.7 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 458' 139 m
Descent: -458' -139 m
High: 5,961' 1,817 m
Low: 5,503' 1,677 m


Avg Grade: 8% (4°)
Max Grade: 21% (12°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Dan Gleason

A technical ascent with a great view of Boulder, followed by a nice, open downhill pitch.

Dan Gleason

Features Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly This is a nice, shorter alternative to the full Mount Sanitas Loop with a lot less elevation gain, too.


Rocky, technical terrain on Dakota Ridge and a few short steep climbs lead to a great view of Boulder. Turning around on Sanitas Valley Trail is a welcome relief. It's a wide gravel/dirt trail with a manageable downhill pitch, allowing you to cruise back down.


Start on Sanitas Valley Trail. Keep an eye out for the Dakota Ridge Trail sign about 0.2 miles in. Dakota Ridge is a rocky and rooty singletrack, which makes for a great challenge. Follow Dakota Ridge north, paralleling the Valley Trail. There are a few forks that lead back to the Valley Trail. Be sure to stay on Dakota Ridge.

Go easy on the stairs, as they're pretty steep, and it doesn't really level out until you reach the turnaround. Be wary of rocks and roots - keep your head down. You'll know you've reached the end of the uphill when you see a bench to the right overlooking a sweeping view of Boulder.

Stop and enjoy it for a minute. Then head to the gravel/dirt path, and head south (left) down the Sanitas Valley Trail back to the trailhead. Be wary on this path as it gets a lot of visitors.

Flora & Fauna

You're unlikely to encounter much other than squirrels and chipmunks along this trail.

Hiked this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

ADA Accessible, Need to Know, History & Background


Rate This Featured Hike

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Check In


Sep 5, 2019
Brian Foley
The goat track down is pretty steep, but otherwise an enjoyable route. 3.5mi — 1h 00m
Apr 18, 2019
Peter Jacobson
Jan 2, 2019
Alyssa Johanson
Quick out and back 2.3mi
Jul 22, 2018
J Adams
Hiked with luca and laz. Their first time up. We hiked up the valley and down the ridge.
Jul 13, 2018
James Greenan
Sep 10, 2017
Nash Foderberg
Easy, half shaded morning hike. Very crowded but lots of great doggos! ;) 2.3mi — 0h 50m
Aug 17, 2017
Allison Klein
Aug 10, 2017
Scotty Wad

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 7 votes


  4.0 from 7 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Featured Hike Rankings


in Colorado


104 Views Last Month
2,433 Since Feb 1, 2016



Trail runners enjoy their winter workout
Dec 5, 2014 near Boulder, CO
Looking down the Sanitas Valley from the Dakota Ridge Trail
Nov 7, 2014 near Boulder, CO
Starting up the Mount Sanitas Trail
Nov 7, 2014 near Boulder, CO
Late season flowers on the Sanitas Valley Trail
Nov 7, 2014 near Boulder, CO
View from the top of Dakota Ridge
Aug 2, 2015 near Boulder, CO
Beautiful broad valley views to the south
Nov 7, 2014 near Boulder, CO


Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking