Hiking at Sanitas – Goat Trail, Boulder, CO

Hiking at Sanitas - Goat Trail, Boulder, CO

I grew up hiking Mt. Sanitias and have always been fond of making the summit – it is a quick hike that rewards hikers with 360 views of the city, plains, and back range. My favorite approach is from the Goat Trail, which is accessed at the Easternmost end of Hawthorne. The ascent is steep and rugged. A welcomed challenge a bit above my daughter’s skill level that made for a fun hike, though ultimately required hand-holding and turning around well before we made the summit.

The Adventure

6:15 AM

After being in Chicago for a good part of the week, my daughter’s cry out, “Daddy!”, is welcomed. I get up from the couch (I snored too much last night, obviously!). We quickly change out of our PJs and into our hiking clothes. My daughter is convinced her clothes are all new and proceeds to ask me if I like each article of her new hiking clothes. I do. We finish packing up and head out to pick up Poppy.

7:05 AM

Breakfast at Moe’s with Poppy.

7:27 AM

We scramble up the Goat Trail. The trail is dusty and rocky, flanked by sheer drops into the gully. Poppy helps my daughter elbow-knee her way up the jutted path.

Scramble - Hiking at Sanitas - Goat Trail, Boulder, CO

7:56 AM

It takes us nearly half an hour to ascend the Goat Trail. We then sprint up the Valley Trail, a road, and discover signage that warns us of mud. We love mud. But there isn’t any rain this morning.

Get Muddy! - Hiking at Sanitas - Goat Trail, Boulder, CO

8:18 AM

We leave the Valley Trail and make it up the first switchback. We take the trail to the left and arrive at the chair rocks. These chairs have been here since I grew up and now, decades later, they are less of chairs and more of a rock sofa. People just keep adding on! Nearby we discover a rock sculpture. I balance a few more rocks on the top while Poppy and my daughter hold down the sofa.

Rock Sculpture - Hiking at Sanitas - Goat Trail, Boulder, CO

Our rest continues with my daughter exploring everything within site. She picks some sage and wields a stone to grind it on the armrest of the sofa.

Sage Grinding - Hiking at Sanitas - Goat Trail, Boulder, CO

The area is decorated with lizards sunning themselves. My daughter touches one, screams with fright, then continues to try to catch them. She tip toes, crouches, hunches over, crawls on her hands and knees, and then, just as she’s almost in arm’s reach – they bolt. Rinse. Repeat. Her goal is capture a lizard, and put it on Poppy’s shoulder. At one point she’s on the hillside, lunges, and tumbles down, getting pinned against a rock and nearby brush. Quick tears then back to the hunt.

Lizard - Hiking at Sanitas - Goat Trail, Boulder, CO

9:07 AM

After an hour an a half, we’ve hiked for nearly a mile and made an elevation gain of 655 feet. Not bad for a toddler. I wonder how far she can go on flats? We decide to turn around and find a swimming pool.

On the way back down we stop at the Sanitas Quarries. The historical signage explains how the quarires were a source of rocks for many of the early University of Colorado buildings.
Quaries - Hiking at Sanitas - Goat Trail, Boulder, CO

10:04 AM

We arrive at the base of the Goat Trail. It seems like this must be a personal best for my daughter, who managed to make it without being carried! Our average pace while moving was 29 minutes / mile. But considering our actual time, it was nearly 1:15 / mile… woah! New land speed record??



Route - Hiking at Sanitas - Goat Trail, Boulder, CO


Gear - Hiking at Sanitas - Goat Trail, Boulder, CO

  • Water bottles (for the trail x 2)
  • Camera
  • Camera bag
  • Toilet paper in ziplock
  • Compass
  • Snacks (Apple, Pistachios, Almonds, Raisins, Cheerios
  • Trail runners
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • Wish I had: sunglasses


  • The Goat Trail, as well as parts of the East Ridge Trail, were beyond the skill level of my daughter. We carefully spotted her when scrambling up rocks or traversing parts of the path that were sheer drops where an unintended slip could be deadly.
  • Trail Running was really fun for my daughter. However, this was also beyond her skill level. Holding her hand, we ran together and when she tripped I swooped her up avoiding many a face plant. We were able to run down the East Ridge Trail and a short leg of the Valley Trail. She was optimistic about running the Goat Trail but we agreed that was far too dangerous.