The Grand-Daddy of all Front Range hikes, The Boulder Skyline Traverse will take you to the top of all five major peaks in the area. Important Note: This hike should only be attempted by those in very good physical condition. If you are visiting from sea-level, you should take at least 3-4 days to adjust to the altitude before embarking on this challenge.
The 5 major peaks that you will summit and their elevation are as follows:
South Boulder Peak-8,543ft
Mileage: 16.4 miles
Vertical Gain: 6,300 vertical feet gain.
Note: This hike is equivalent in length and elevation gain to many of the Colorado 14ers and, in some cases, even longer and more challenging. Only attempt this trek if you are an avid hiker, fit and have survival skills.
What to Pack
Plenty of water and food are essential on this hike. Not to mention, because of its length and significant elevation gains, basic survival and first aid gear is highly recommended.
- Travel in a group
- Pack plenty of water. 2-3 liters is standard. Bringing a Camelback for handsfree drinking is recommended.
- Wear sturdy hiking boots or trail running shoes
- Dress in light layers that can be easily put on or taken off. The weather in Boulder is finicky and changes suddenly. A wind or rain shell is highly recommended as afternoon showers are commonplace throughout the year in the mountains.
- A knife, strike-anywhere matches, first aid kit, map, and compass are essentials. Also, knowing how to use them doesn't hurt either.
- Be sure to tell friends and family members about your intended route and when you should return.
- Become acquainted with the signs and symptoms of altitude sickness. Anyone experiencing sudden nausea, light-headedness, and disorientation could mean they aren't handling the altitude well. They made need to stop for a rest or turn back altogether.
Where to Start
Most hikers either start at the Mt. Sanitas trailhead; however, they first park a car at the South Boulder Peak trail-head so that they have transportation available upon completion of the hike. There is parking along Mapleton where your car can be left safely for the entire day.
When to Leave
Boulder Skyline Just Before Dawn — Photo courtesy of Hope Gately
This hike will most likely take between 9-12 hours depending on your pace and ability. As such, plan to leave around 8 or 9am in mid-summer so that you can complete the hike before sunset. However, be sure that everyone in your party carries a headlamp in case you're caught out after dark.
What You'll See
Green Mountain at Twilight from the Summit of Sanitas — Photo courtesy of Hope Gately
Rolling valleys, lush pines, the Flatirons, and a bird's-eye-view of the Rocky Mountains are just a few of the spectacular sites that you'll encounter on this arduous trek. Remember: This most important thing to carry with you is a good attitude and patience.