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.
Features: Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
This is a nice, shorter alternative to the full Mount Sanitas Loop
with a lot less elevation gain, too.
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.
You're unlikely to encounter much other than squirrels and chipmunks along this trail.