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blueBlack Royal Arch Out and Back

  4.4 ( 121 )

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3.3 mile 5.3 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 1,311' 400 m
Descent: -1,312' -400 m
High: 6,917' 2,108 m
Low: 5,691' 1,735 m


Avg Grade: 15% (9°)
Max Grade: 75% (37°)


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Trail shared by Tom Robson

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Current trail conditions

All Clear 13 days ago See History
Snowy, Mostly Dry, Some Mud, Icy - Tiny spots of ice covered with mud near the end

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

Tom Robson

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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Apr 14, 2019
Liz Greenwalt
Apr 8, 2019
Christopher Nelson
Last hike of our Colorado adventure — awesome, varied terrain with stone steps, a creek crossing, some snow and ice, and a phenomenal stone arch. 3.3mi
Apr 7, 2019
Jordan Frdnmkr
Mar 9, 2019
Ty Temple
Jan 19, 2019
Spencer Cummins
Lots of fresh snow, we used crampons and it was fine. Great hike throughout! 4.8mi
Jan 6, 2019
Marian Van Vlack
Jan 6, 2019
Ross Wehner
Just logging the way up. 1.9mi
Jan 5, 2019
Cody Coombe

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 121 votes


  4.4 from 121 votes
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