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Royal Arch

 4.4 (89)


3.3 Miles 5.3 Kilometers

1,311' 400 m


-1,312' -400 m



Avg Grade (9°)


Max Grade (37°)

6,917' 2,108 m


5,691' 1,735 m


Shared By Tom Robson


All Clear 17 days ago
Dry History

Getting forecast...

A classic Boulder hike to a natural arch with great views.

Tom Robson

Dogs No Dogs

Features 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 Trail.

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.


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Your Check-Ins


Jul 11, 2018
Josh Beute
Quite the hike! Plenty of water needed on a hot day. 1.7mi
Jul 7, 2018
Mike Hinkson
Very difficult, quad workout, gorgeous view. Went up Chautauqua, over flatiron loop, up royal arch, back down royal arch. 3.5 hrs 6.6mi
Jul 5, 2018
Jessica Schad
Jul 4, 2018
Nick Barendregt
Absolutely stunning hike! Nice scrambling combined with beautiful views. A must-do hike in Boulder! 3.3mi
Jun 30, 2018
Jeff Byrnes
Jun 22, 2018
Jimmy Chang
left from NCAR 6.3mi
Jun 22, 2018
Brie Paddock
Jun 21, 2018
Maria Linn
So beautiful and worth the view at the end. Got our butts kicked by the 1.1 mi of elevation increase but enjoyed the scrambling. 3.3mi

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 88 votes


  4.4 from 88 votes
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