|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
With the greater Denver area ranging to the east and miles of untamed wilderness stretching to the west, you’ll truly be straddling the edge of civilization while hiking this 2.89-mile local favorite. Start by following Chatauqua Park’s Mesa Trail at an easy grade through a gentle meadow. After about 0.5 miles, transfer to the narrow Royal Arch Trail as it weaves through a dense pine forest before hitting the Bluebell-Baird Trail. As the path steepens and gives way to periodic boulderfields, you’ll pass several side-trails leading to popular bouldering spots.
Catch your first panoramas of the expansive Eastern Plains as you continue on toward the First-Second Flatiron Trail junction. Once at the intersection, fork left to climb a series of moderate yet rocky switchbacks. After 0.5 miles, you’ll reach the hike’s highest point – the saddle between the indomitable First Flatiron and Sunset Rock.
From your awe-inspiring perch, take in stunning, 360-degree views of the surrounding landscapes: metropolitan Denver to the east, a sweeping natural amphitheater to the west, and the jagged peaks of the Flatirons to the north and south. Hikers with an insatiable appetite for adventure can climb even higher by bouldering up the magnificent red rocks that form the saddle's frame.
After returning to the Bluebell-Baird Trail via the same trail you hiked up on, bear to the left to follow the loop back to the trailhead.