When I don't have time for a long drive or stamina for an all-day hike, but I still want to get away somewhere pretty and enjoy a little workout, I almost always end up in Boulder. The three-mile Mount Sanitas Loop is close to downtown, but its lovely views encompass plains, foothills, and a glimpse of the snow-capped giants of the Rocky Mountains. It's a pleasant, if hot and breathless, way to get up-close and personal with rock and sky, and watch civilization become far and wee.

It's easy to find the Mount Sanitas trail: in Boulder, take Broadway to Mapleton Road and turn west. The trailhead is a few blocks up, just past the Mapleton Medical Center. You'll pass the trailhead and roadside parking on the right. But I recommend parking in the lot at the Centennial trailhead, just a stone's throw up the road on the left. From there, a dirt path takes you back to the Mount Sanitas trailhead, as you'll see at the beginning of this video of the hike my husband Dale and I did this summer:

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