In recent years, the Boulder 5-Peak Traverse (also called the Skyline Traverse) has become increasingly popular as the ultimate backyard trail challenge. What was once an obscure hike or run known only to the hardcore crowd has since become a mainstream challenge for locals and visitors alike. And it’s no wonder why – the route is more challenging than many 14ers and yet it’s right in town.
While the 5-Peak Traverse’s newfound popularity is sure to last, it’s only natural that Boulderites would find a way to up-level this already epic hike. Enter the 7 Summits Challenge. You may be thinking, “7 summits?! There are only five main peaks in Boulder!” Of course, you are correct. Boulder’s five peaks are (north to south) Sanitas, Flagstaff, Green, Bear, and South Boulder. The 7 summits route consists of summiting all five peaks and then backtracking to hit Bear Peak and Green Mountain again before descending.
Why hike 7 summits in Boulder? Well, the name is a play on the “Seven Summits” to which many mountaineers aspire – summiting the highest peak on each continent around the globe. Boulder’s 7 summits are not quite that challenging (nor do they require airfare), but after bagging over 20 miles and 7,200 feet of elevation gain, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world.
One of the best things about the 7 Summits Challenge (as opposed to the 5-Peak Traverse) is that you finish in lovely Chautauqua. The benefit here is amenities galore. Instead of descending to a trailhead with vault toilets (such as South Mesa), you descend to Chautauqua Trailhead where real bathrooms, an ice cream shop, and a full-service restaurant are waiting for you. At the bottom of the trail, simply walk a few more feet (you’ve made it this far – you can do it) to civilization and comfort. You’ll be sipping a celebratory beer in less than 10 minutes.
Read on for your guide to the newest Boulder mega hike, the 7 Summits Challenge.