Anemone Hill is the introverted counterpart to the wildly popular Mount Sanitas. Both hikes share the Centennial Trailhead as a starting point yet Anemone remains relatively unknown, even among Boulder locals. Part of this is due to an extended closure of the upper trail that lasted for several years following a wildlife in 2010. The trail has quietly reopened and (perhaps for the best) it remains a low-traffic destination that is worth the visit. It’s only 1.2 miles one-way to the highest point around 6,400 ft -- a gain of about 1,100 vertical feet. There is no official summit but there is a high point that is decorated with quartz blocks and offers great views of both Boulder and Sunshine Canyons. The trail ends a few hundred feet past this summit at a private property line.
What Makes It Great
Anemone’s trail is easy to access and not long but it whisks you away into another world in minutes. Starting at the Centennial Trailhead allows hikers to make a quick detour to Red Rocks, a nifty formation that is not to be confused with the nearby amphitheater of the same name. The Anemone Hill trail then climbs stiffly into the woods, where a flat clearing opens up nice views of the city. Continuing up, hikers will pass through the burn zone, an especially eerie place on foggy days. After reaching a mini-false summit, the trail concludes with its best section: an isolated, rolling stretch that feels removed from civilization. The quartz block summit is a great place to relax and enjoy the aforementioned views of the canyons, along with Betasso Preserve and the Indian Peaks to the west.
There won’t be many crowds, even on weekends and the trail is dog friendly. A lot of wildlife retreats to Anemone Hill in the evening -- coyote, black bear, mountain lion, elk and fox are all considered locals. It’s a good workout for those short on time and not up for social affair that Mount Sanitas can become.
Who is Going to Love It
Hikers that are looking for a little peace and quiet in town while also getting a good workout. It should be noted there are also good views of the Mount Sanitas trail from the Anemone Trail. Photographers can catch a different side of Boulder and the unique views, along with the burn zone carnage, can provide a dramatic landscape for pictures.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Take Mapleton Road off of Broadway (just north of Pearl Street Mall). This is a steep hill that flattens out and goes through one of Boulder’s most beautiful neighborhoods. Follow the road 0.6 miles to the intersection of Mapleton and 4th Street. Past this intersection, the main parking area at the Centennial Trailhead is a few hundred feet farther up the left. Trails begin up an abrupt staircase of water bars on the south side of the trail. There are restrooms and bike racks at the trailhead.
It’s also possible to reach Anemone by parking at the Settler’s Park parking lot of Canyon Boulevard. This parking area is located at the intersection of West Pearl St. and Canyon. If you are driving west on Canyon, it is the turn off before the road enters into Boulder Canyon. A 0.3 mile trail goes from here to Red Rocks and the start of the Anemone Trail.