Cheap, free, and local-endorsed things to do in beautiful places

Royal Arch Trail

  • ★★★★
  • 3.5 mile loop
  • Elevation gain: 1,637 feet
  • 2-3 hours
  • Very strenuous
  • Meadows, a large arch, panoramic views of Boulder
  • Accessible via public transportation

Distance from Denver: 35 minutes

Directions: Click here

Parking: Free

Despite its short length, this is a very difficult hike – the last mile is extraordinarily strenuous. However, if you’re up for a challenge, this hike provides beautiful panoramic views of Boulder and its environs and a close look at one of Colorado’s most stunning arches.

Begin the hike at the Chautauqua Park trailhead located off Baseline Road in the city of Boulder. There’s a parking lot that fills quickly; otherwise, your best bet is to parallel park alongside Baseline Road.

Follow signs for the Chautauqua Trail and take it through beautiful forestry and alongside a tranquil creek all the way until the Bluebell-Baird Trail, where you should make a left. At that trail’s conclusion, make a right onto the Flatirons Loop and follow this until you reach the Royal Arch Trail. Follow the Royal Arch Trail to the top, where you will reach a close-up view of the arch and a panoramic snapshot of the Boulder area after seemingly climbing straight upward for what feels like much longer than a half-mile. After you catch your breath and savor the hard-earned scenery, return down the Royal Arch Trail, making a right at the Flatirons Loop and taking it straight onto the Bluebell Road (go straight, not left onto Bluebell Road) through pleasant meadows back to the trailhead.

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