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Royal Arch Out and Back

Intermediate/Difficult

Trail

3.3 mile 5.3 kilometer out and back
67% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

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

Grade

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

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Map Key

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

Tom Robson

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 run are unbelievable.

Runner Notes

This trail becomes progressively steeper the further you go. Although the first mile is very runnable (albeit crowded), the final push to the arch is very steep.

Be sure to bring your high-stepping legs. The stairs on this trail prove difficult, even for hikers.

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.

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Check-Ins

Jan 24, 2020
Charly Jackson
Jun 22, 2019
Sam Miga
May 27, 2019
Daniel Graham
May 2, 2019
John Winters
Beautiful day and beautiful hike!
Sep 1, 2018
Debbie W
May 27, 2018
Millie Liniado
3.8mi
Apr 3, 2018
Trevor Janse
real FUN one dude!
Sep 19, 2017
JoshuaRichardson
not included in time 15 minute rest and solo of royal arch 3.3mi

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 148 votes

#46

Overall
  4.4 from 148 votes
5 Star
53%
4 Star
35%
3 Star
11%
2 Star
1%
1 Star
0%
Run Rankings

#17

in Colorado

#46

Overall
188 Views Last Month
19,811 Since May 5, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
56%
44%
0%

Photos

A snowy start of the Mesa Trail looking at the first Flatiron.
Apr 14, 2015 near Boulder, CO
Morning at the Flatirons.
Apr 26, 2015 near Boulder, CO
Flatirons of Boulder, Colorado
Apr 26, 2015 near Boulder, CO
Chautauqua Park
Jan 30, 2015 near Boulder, CO
Boulder Colorado - Winter Wonderland
Jan 2, 2015 near Boulder, CO
This is how you know a run/hike is going to be good, right from the get go. Flatirons from Bluebell Road.
Dec 20, 2014 near Boulder, CO

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