Cultural Resources Mount Sanitas Hike
Hiking in Mount Sanitas: The more things change, the more they stay the same!
If you’re like many Boulderites, you probably already think of the Sanitas area as a great place to hike, run, walk the dog or simply get some fresh air. But do you know how it got its name?
Boulder Colorado Sanitarium and Hospital
In the late 1800s, the campus that we now refer to as
While our generation has come to understand that diet and exercise are essential to one’s health and well-being, the concept was brand new and somewhat controversial in the late 1800s. Victorians were well known for five course meals, rich with meats, cream, starch, butter and sugar. In 1876, a typical breakfast could consist of steak, bacon and eggs, fried potatoes, pancakes and sausage, porridge, donuts and fruits. Dr. Kellogg believed this diet was at the root of many of the diseases that plagued his generation. Kellogg was determined to change the way Americans not only ate, but lived, and developed the Battle Creek Sanatorium as a place where the patient’s lifestyle could be completely controlled. The Sanatorium became a popular and profitable method of spreading the word, and by the turn of the century, he and his brother, W.K. Kellogg began to mass produce their healthy foods (including some cereals we would recognize today!).
In 1893, Seventh-Day Adventist Elder John
Treatment at the Kellogg Sanatoriums was almost spa-like. Meals were of the utmost importance, and of course, cereals and grains were featured prominently. At its height, the Sanatorium had its own dairy and food factory with a natural food store here in
In keeping with the most modern medical discoveries, the Sanatorium also prescribed some hydro and electric therapies:
Prominent among these (forms of treatment) are the use of electricity in all its forms, massage both general and special, Swedish movements, various baths such as the electric light bath, electro-thermal bath, sprays, douches, salt glows, cold mitten friction, etc. These, together with proper exercise, proper food, pure air and pure water, constitute the true sanitarium idea – the cultivation of health.
In its beginning days, the Sanatorium and Hospital originally welcomed tubercular patients.
The decision to exclude tubercular patients from the Sanatorium and its emphasis on diet and exercise may have contributed to the notion that the institution offered more of a ‘spa vacation’ than a stay in the hospital, in spite of its surgical and obstetrical facilities. In fact, in 1930, the Sanatorium advertised itself as a vacation destination in their brochure, “The Vacation Extra.”
And why wouldn’t people want to spend their vacation here? “The unrivaled ensemble of advantages is making the Boulder-Colorado Sanitarium justly and increasingly popular with professional workers and others who recognize in this institution the rare opportunity of combining, during the vacation period, the Sanitarium System of rational, tonic treatment with the ideal climatic conditions and the magnificent mountain, plain and canyon scenery of this National Park region.” Brochures touted activities and facilities – hiking, burro rides, a swimming pool – all of which could very well be found in advertising for tourist attractions of today. In fact, hiking in the area was encouraged, and in a 1902 brochure the Sanitarium proclaimed their trail to the top of
The sanitarium has just completed a trail to the very summit of the mount, a distance of nearly two miles. The slope is not so great but that nearly everyone can reach the peak by simply taking his time…. A number of trustworthy burros have been purchased, and the patients have free access to them. By means of these many are able to reach the peak who otherwise would be denied the privilege, owing to lack of strength. The donkeys not only aid the feeble but give comfort and amusement to the strong.
Obviously, getting outside and enjoying the “equable” climate of
Did you know?
Because the name Sanitas is derived from the word sanitarium, its pronunciation is similar: Instead of the popular san-‘ee-tis, with the emphasis on the ‘ee’ sound, the correct pronunciation actually sounds like ‘san-eh-toss, with the emphasis on the first syllable, ‘san.’
Want to learn more?
Boulder's Carnegie Library has a wealth of information about the sanitarium' s history, including bulletins, brochures, photographs and personal histories!
You know the history, now take the hike!
Trailhead: Mount Sanitas or Centennial
Difficulty: Easy to structures, Moderate/Difficult to climb Mount Sanitas
Distance: Approximately 1 to 2 miles round trip. Climb up Mount Sanitas involves 1,300 ft. elevation gain.
Sanitas Cultural Resources Trail Map 3.16 Mb
For more information: Carnegie Library, Mount Sanitas OSMP Trailhead
Start your hike!
You can begin the hike from several access points -- here are the two most convenient access points:
Mount Sanitas Trailhead: north side of
Centennial Trailhead: south side of
From the Centennial Trailhead to Sanitas Valley Trail: take the path that leads you east and cross
From Sanitas Valley Trail: Continue along Sanitas Valley Trail – you’ll walk along the historic Silver Lake Ditch for a few feet before you come to the intersection of the
Coming up on your Left you’ll see the first structures, the Stone Shelter, and some stones that are mortared together, probably for campfire sites. You are welcome to go inside the shelter (the entrance faces east so as to enjoy the view of
Continuing south a few more feet and looking to your Left, you will see what first looks like an undefined pile of rocks. Get a little closer (please follow the trails) and you will find a Stone Arch just south of this pile of rocks. Because the arch doesn’t serve a purpose and really doesn’t lead anywhere, we call it a ‘folly.’ Follies are architectural structures made simply for fun, and exist only to make the builder or owner happy. While they are common in
From the folly, you can walk down toward the crossing of Silver Lake Ditch. The bridge itself is a Stone Bench, beautifully crafted to provide a nice spot to sit in the cool shade. This would have been an ideal spot for patients to stop on their way to or from the Sanitas walks, because it was shaded by the trees and the water in the ditch itself would have helped to drop the temperature. Feel free to stop here and take a moment to ponder about
People come here from all over the world to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, climate and the healthy lifestyle we offer here – it’s true what they say – ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same!’
Schlereth, Thomas J. “Victorian
Brief History of
Colorado Sanatorium circular, 1904.
“The Vacation Extra,” The Boulder-Colorado Sanitarium, The
November 1902. Vol. 1. No 1. page 4.