Hike the Sunshine Lion's Lair Loop



5.3 miles

Elevation Gain

1300 ft

Route Type


Added by Peter DiBari

This one is a fairly easy trail to the Mt Sanitas peak that avoids the crowds and still offers the views.

This is a mix of trails that will bring you on an easy loop to the peak of Mt Sanitas, but will keep you away from the usual crowds of the more well-known paths up. The hike is a clear path that brings you 5.3 miles from around 5,500 ft in elevation to 6,800. 

You'll start at the Centennial Trailhead, which offers free parking, and focus on the Sunshine Canyon Trail going west up the canyon. You won't see or hear it much, but you'll be moving up the South side of Sunshine Canyon Drive. 

In about 1.3 miles, you'll arrive at a private driveway. This is where your trail ends, and you'll head out the driveway to take a left up the road. Be careful of the cars, as they tend to move quickly here. You'll walk about 40 feet, cross the road, and find Lion's Lair Trail. 

The next 2.7 miles will bring you gradually up to some beautiful views of Boulder and the surrounding mountains. If you'd prefer to stay away from crowds, take your moments and pictures on this trail. Once you get to Mt Sanitas you'll almost certainly be sharing the trail. 

Once you hear people talking at the peak, you'll know you're close to the summit. 

From here, you'll choose your way down Mt Sanitas. The shorter route is about 1.3 miles, is pretty straight, and will drop you just East of your car.  

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Known for

Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area



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Lions Lair

Lion's Lair is one of my FAVORITE ways to summit Sanitas. But sorry folks, the secret is out. It has been getting busier and busier as the summer has progressed. Also beware, this trail does NOT allow dogs. It is in a wildlife refuge area and people do have a right to hike a trail that doesn't have dogs. You can hike up the sunshine canyon trail with your furry friend, but once you cross the road and head up lions lair, it is a no go. There are locals who hike this trail almost everyday and they will call the rangers to address any dogs on this trail. They take it seriously, and rightfully so. Rangers will always write tickets on this trail so it is best to either find another place to hike or just leave fido at home for this one.

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We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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