The Rockies: Hiking Mt. Sanitas Loop

What a gorgeous weekend in Denver! It called for a short hike, despite my pesky ankle. JB, Chelsea and I set out for Boulder to hike the Mt. Sanitas Trail Loop. My Google Maps tried to take me to the summit, so we took a slight detour before we found the trailhead. Luckily, we were the most directionally challenged in the car. Once we found the trail, it was relatively simple to follow the loop as it was well marked and somewhat populated, though not too bad given we arrived at 9 am, and it was glorious.

I started out in a jacket and hat because I was cold standing in the shade, but I shed those once I started walking in the sun. Within 20 minutes of climbing the log and rock stairs beneath ponderosa pines, we were shedding our long sleeves. JB was the only one to start in short sleeves and remain that way…no wonder he likes winter so much!
We maneuvered along the winding trail through large sandstone formations as we gained 1,323’ over 1.2 miles to the summit. The summit provided a panoramic view of snow capped mountains to the west, the eastern plains, as well as the City below.

After enjoying a small snack and petting countless unleashed dogs (made me miss mine), we descended down Sanitas Valley Trail…more climbing through giant rock formations. It was pretty cool! Once we reached the valley, we found the trail was closed from the floods, we were diverted to the Dakota Ridge Trail. This trail ran somewhat parallel to the Valley Trail though it wasn’t quite as level as the valley floor, and it undulated through the trees. The small detour may have added a little distance to the 3.1 mile loop, but I don’t think it added as much as the “Map My Hike” App calculated. Map My Hike claims we hiked 4.4 miles, and estimated that I burned 850 calories! Regardless, I don’t really hike for exercise. I hike for my zen experience of the week. I just love it! ETB


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The Rockies: Hiking in the Snow at Betasso Preserve

February 24, 2013

Today we connected multiple trails together at Betasso Preserve in Boulder to make an 8.8 mile hike on a mostly snowy trail. The trails included Canyon Loop, a moderate to difficult 3.3 mile loop; Loop Link, a 0.75 mi out and back connector trail; Benjamin Loop, a moderate to difficult 2.4 mi loop; and Fourmile Link, a 0.8 mi moderate to difficult out and back trail. The trails switched back and forth through the pines, across a frozen creek, and into open areas offering views of surrounding peaks dusted in snow.



One of the oldest rock types in Boulder County, Boulder Creek granodiorite, rests beneath the Betasso Preserve. The igneous rock, formed from molten material, dates 1.7 billions years in age. The rock, which cooled and hardened beneath the earth’s surface and was pushed upward with the formation of the mountains 70 million years ago includes pink and white feldspar minerals, clear quartz, and dark mica minerals.



This mineral rich area, known as the northeast corner of the Colorado Mineral Belt, attracted multiple mining operations in the 1870’s. The Town of Orodell, equipped with a general store, post office, and school, was located immediately adjacent to the present Betasso Preserve. Unfortunately, the town was destroyed by fire in 1883 and the nearby sawmill and gold mill were destroyed by flood in 1894, never to be rebuilt.


It wasn’t until 1912, that this land was finally built upon by the Blanchard family and later purchased by hard rock miner, Steve Betasso. Over the years, the Betasso family expanded its ranch into a large cattle operation with its profits from tungsten and gold mining. In 1976, Boulder County purchased 712 acres of the ranch for the Betasso Preserve and has since purchased more, so that we could enjoy 1,181 acres of snowy mountains!


Jackie, Justin, and I hiked with seven others and Jackie’s new rescue dog, Edmund. She has only had him one week. A lab mix, at 8 months old, he was so well behaved and such a trooper! He made me think of Scout a lot, only Scout was always the wild lab, and Edmund is going to be the laid back lab at two…sleeping all the time! I needed to sleep when I got home for sure, as I was over dressed, sweating away, and rubbing blisters on my feet on that trail march, but I had dinner plans…so the jammies had to wait! ETB