Hiking Project Logo

Royal Arch Out and Back

Difficult
 4.4 (154) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

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


Your Rating:      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add to Favorites · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

3.3

Miles

5.3

KM

Out and Back

6,917' 2,108 m

High

5,691' 1,735 m

Low

1,311' 400 m

Up

1,312' 400 m

Down

15%

Avg Grade (9°)

75%

Max Grade (37°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Views · Wildflowers

Overview

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.

Description

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Tom Robson with improvements by Eric Internicola

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 154 votes

#51

Overall
  4.4 from 154 votes
5 Star
53%
4 Star
35%
3 Star
11%
2 Star
1%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#20

in Colorado

#51

Overall
492 Views Last Month
21,812 Since May 5, 2015
Difficult

0%
0%
21%
1%
78%
0%

Photos

A snowy start of the Mesa Trail looking at the first Flatiron.
Apr 14, 2015 near Boulder, CO
Colorado is THIS AWESOME!
Nov 7, 2016 near Boulder, CO
Morning at the Flatirons.
Apr 26, 2015 near Boulder, CO
Hiking back down the many steps to the Royal Arch.
Nov 7, 2016 near Boulder, CO
Flatirons of Boulder, Colorado
Apr 26, 2015 near Boulder, CO
One of the finest “end of the trail” views!
Jan 28, 2018 near Boulder, CO

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 16 days ago See History
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Jun 28, 2020
Nick Zevchek
Jun 12, 2020
JB Martinez
May 26, 2020
Brandon Marker
May 14, 2020
David Khair
2.9mi — 1h 00m
Apr 10, 2020
Hannah Work
Feb 29, 2020
ALYSHA DRUM
Feb 2, 2020
Ryan William
Nov 16, 2019
Peter Wright