“A classic Boulder hike to a natural arch with great views.
— Tom Robson
Views · Wildflowers
Enjoy some technical trail that culminates in great views and a natural arch - right above Boulder!
In addition to the Arch's geologic oddity, the views from the top of this hike are unbelievable.
From the northeastern corner of Chatauqua Park, this doubletrack/somewhat paved road heads directly south, almost straight up the contours. Once you've passed the final house on your left, the trail bends to the right and the grade steepens. Eventually, you'll reach an intersection with Mesa Trail
, where there is a single pit toilet.
After the toilet, Bluebell Road
winds back on itself, making a lollipop loop. This loop connects to the Flatirons Loop trail, Bluebell-Baird Trail
, and Bluebell Spur
Though the views are stunning, this is one of the LEAST aesthetic trails in Chautauqua. Good thing, however, that you're about to enter one of Boulder's MOST scenic.
From the end of Bluebell, bear left onto Royal Arch Trail
. Royal Arch Trail
starts climbing to the southwest at the bottom of a drainage. This trail is rocky and becomes steadily more technical as it ascends. Soon after starting out, the Flatirons Loop will branch off to the right. At about the halfway point, things get a little steeper and more difficult. Loose rocks, tight switchbacks and areas of built steps will have your legs working hard.
Eventually, you'll reach a sort of false summit just to the south of the third flatiron. Take in the views of Boulder and the surrounding sandstone formations for a moment and then start the short, somewhat scrambling descent. The trail will level out momentarily as it passes through another drainage before it turns upward once more. This is the final approach to the arch.
Be prepared for more tight switchbacks and big steps. You'll have no doubt in your mind that you've made it once you do - the arch is a spectacular sight. From below the arch, there are great views of Boulder as well as the backside of the third flatiron. This is the terminus of the trail and it must be retraced back down as there are no other trails from this point.
Flora & Fauna
Black bears and mountain lions inhabit this area. Many other wildlife species are common including birds of prey, mule deer and coyotes. Additionally, you'll encounter multitudes of wildflowers along this route, especially down low.