Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
463.00 ft (141.12 m)
Trail type
2.20 mi (3.54 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

For those seeking an accessible yet rewarding hiking experience near Boulder, the Dakota Ridge and Sanitas Valley Trail Loop is a local favorite. This 2.2-mile loop offers a satisfying 500 feet of elevation gain, excellent access, and stunning vistas. This trail provides a less crowded alternative to the busy Mt. Sanitas Trail with similarly spectacular vistas, interesting and fun rock features (for those who wish to do some easy rock scrambling right in the city), and numerous loop options for shortening or extending the hike.

Parking for the Dakota Ridge loop is available at either the Centennial Trailhead or along Mapleton Ave. The loop can be tackled in either direction, but is described here in the counterclockwise direction. Begin from Mapleton Ave with a gradual climb up the Sanitas Valley Trail, and after 0.2 miles bear right onto the Dakota Ridge Trail. Soon after at the next junction, turn left to head north along Dakota Ridge. The trail climbs for approximately 1.2 miles, including a few long rock staircases. At the end of the Dakota Ridge Trail, you can enjoy fantastic views both over Boulder and up towards the summit of Mt Sanitas.

After turning left at the junction, descend along the smooth crushed gravel Sanitas Valley Trail back to the parking lot.

To shorten this loop, consider taking one of several spur trails between Dakota Ridge and the Sanitas Valley Trail before reaching the loop's high point. To extend the loop, consider climbing Mt. Sanitas via the East Ridge Trail, or taking the Goat Trail down to Forest Ave and returning to the parking via 4th St.

While the Sanitas Valley Trail can get busy, particularly on weekends, and the parking does fill on summer weekends, the hike's proximity to downtown Boulder and its exceptional views make it a cherished choice for locals and visitors. Whether you're a Boulder local in need of a quick escape or a visitor looking to explore the city's natural beauty, this loop offers something for everyone.

Logistics + Planning



Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Easy access close to Boulder. Interesting terrain and rocks. Beautiful views.


Can be busy. Parking fills on weekends.

Trailhead Elevation

5,528.00 ft (1,684.93 m)

Highest point

5,964.00 ft (1,817.83 m)


Vault toilet
Family friendly
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping


Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.