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Boulder, CO: Royal Arch

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Star Star Star Star Star

Distance: 3.7 miles


This popular loop through Boulder's Chautauqua Park tops out at a stunning rock arch framing views of Front Range foothills and the plains.
  • Through the Arch
  • Chautauqua Ranger Cottage
  • Into the Woods
  • Boardwalk
  • Get to Steppin'
  • Royal Arch
  • Through the Scree
  • Chalk Rock
  • Flatiron Access
  • Flatiron from Below
  • A Second Scree
  • Chautauqua Trail
  • Boulder Views

Chautauqua Park is the crown jewel of Boulder's local trail network and the Royal Arch hike is an ideal sampler for fit (or resilient) first-timers. Starting from the Ranger Cottage, begin hiking up the Chautauqua Trail and turn off onto the Bluebell Mesa Trail before the path disappears into the woods.

About 1.1 miles in, the gradual grade ticks up to not-so-gradual, as the trail begins a two-tiered, 0.7-mile climb up to Royal Arch. Slogging up a series of rock steps, this stretch will leave your lungs hurting on the way up, and then take a toll on your knees on the way down. The view from the top is worth it, though: Royal Arch, a rock edifice perched between drainages, offers various overlooks up and down the Front Range. After backtracking downhill for a bit, the route turns back uphill on a detour that traces one of Chautauqua's signature Flatirons before returning to the Ranger Cottage.

-Mapped by Mark Harrison

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