Royal Arch | Colorado | 09/17/20

Royal Arch | Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks

Boulder, CO | 09/17/20 | 4.54 miles | 1,405′ gain

TH = Trailhead, RA = Royal Arch

Tori’s friend was visiting from Ohio and wanted to go for a hike in Boulder. We linked up on a Thursday to take him to the Royal Arch, one of the most iconic hikes in Chautauqua Park. Both Tori and I had already done this one via the standard 3.4 mile out-and-back route, but this time we decided to create a slightly longer 4.5 mile loop to visit some new trails.

Boulder Flatirons

Our loop started from the main Chautauqua trailhead. It wasn’t very busy at 8am on a Thursday and we easily found parking. We set out on the Chautauqua Trail in a beautiful meadow beneath the Boulder Flatirons. We turned left on the Bluebell Spur and soon entered the forest, staying there much of the rest of the hike. The trail junctions are marked, but some of the signs can be very confusing. It’s best to have a map when you hike here.

Bluebell Spur Trail

We very briefly turned onto Bluebell Road, passing the picnic shelter and quickly turning onto the out-and-back Royal Arch Trail.

Royal Arch Trail above Bluebell Canyon
Crossing Bluebell Canyon
Bluebell Canyon

The Royal Arch Trail is often steep as it climbs up to an overlook and then goes down and up again to the arch. Some sections can be difficult as you must navigate over or around boulders.

After the overlook, the trail descends a steep and rocky “staircase” before ascending to the arch.

The Royal Arch Trail is about 0.8 miles one-way but it took us longer than expected. Finally we reached the arch, which was difficult to photograph due to lighting and angle.

Royal Arch

The trail ends in the arch, but there are plenty of nice places on the other side for a break.

Tori and Lady overlooking a hazy Boulder, CO (hazy due to wildfire smoke)
The Boulder Flatirons through Royal Arch

We backtracked along the Royal Arch Trail (down and up and down again) and continued left on the Flatirons Loop.


We turned left on the Bluebell-Baird Trail and then took a right on the pretty Meadow Trail, which took us back to the trailhead.


A repeat, but a fun one that can be done again and again, always taking a slightly different route.


11 thoughts on “Royal Arch | Colorado | 09/17/20

  1. We did this hike in March one time and as the trail climbed it was very icy. I had spikes so I was ok, but my ex was like skiing down on his tennis shoes, fell three times, and no one saw him. Once we got to the meadow I was relieved I didn’t wipe out and then I slid in the mud and wiped out in front of everyone!


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