Royal Arch Out and Back
ElevationAscent: 1,311' 400 m
Descent: -1,312' -400 m
High: 6,917' 2,108 m
Low: 5,691' 1,735 m
GradeAvg Grade: 15% (9°)
Max Grade: 75% (37°)
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“A classic Boulder hike to a natural arch with great views.”— Tom Robson
In addition to the Arch's geologic oddity, the views from the top of this hike are unbelievable.
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.
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Land Manager: Boulder County, CO - Parks and Open Space