You don't have to go all the way to Arches National Park in Utah to see arches, there is an arch hidden in the Boulder Flatirons.
The hike to Royal Arch starts at the Chautauqua Ranger Station. Pick up a map and pick a trail. You can take the short route: the Mesa Trail (which is a blacktop road) to the Royal Arch Trail. Or take the scenic route on the Chautauqua Trail to the Bluebell/Baird Trail to the Royal Arch Trail.
Just below the Royal Arch Trail you'll find the Bluebell Shelter. One website says the shelter was built in 1921 by the local Lions Club. It has picnic tables, grills and is available for group picnics and activities.
From here, start up the Royal Arch Trail. While it is only 1.1 miles from the start of the Royal Arch Trail to the arch, it is no easy hike. Many people do not make it to the arch on their first try. This is a steep trail with a lot of stairs. Bring water and determination.
Many trails have stairs, but the Royal Arch Trail has what feels like an everlasting staircase. I hiked this trail with some beginner hikers who took lots of breaks. Just make sure when you rest, you look around at the beautiful rocks in the area. You may even catch a climber or two scaling the rocks.
At one point, you'll come to a series of switchbacks. This leads to a false summit. While this is a beautiful place to stop and enjoy the views of Boulder and beyond, there is more hiking to go. From the false summit, you'll drop down a steep trail, then start climbing again for the final push to the arch.
The trail ends at the bottom of Royal Arch, a 20-25 foot arch. Take the time to climb to the center of the arch. From the other side there are amazing views of the front range. You can also take a picture back through the arch of the flatirons.
This is a beautiful place to enjoy your lunch, take lots of pictures and just take a nice long break. However, do not expect peace and quiet on this trail. It is very busy. My advice? Go on a blue sky day to get the best pictures of the arch and the flatirons.
I welcome your questions, comments and hiking trail suggestions, just email me: email@example.com.
Distance: 3.7 miles RT
Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet (with ups and downs)
Location: Chautauqua Park, Boulder
Dogs: Allowed on leash, to go off-leash see Boulder rules
Trailhead: Parking lot, Ranger Station, bathrooms, signs, beautiful view of the Flatirons
Entrance fee: None
Previous hiking reports:(lower elevation hikes have a star) Boulder: Heil Valley Ranch*, Hall Ranch*, Eldorado Canyon State Park*, Caribou Ranch*, Royal Arch*, South Boulder Peak*, The Boulder Flatirons*, Walker Ranch*, South Boulder Trailhead*, South Mesa Trail*, Mallory Cave*, Forsythe Canyon*, Bear Peak*, Rabbit Mountain*, Bald Mountain*, Betasso Preserve*, Wonderland Lake*, Marshall Mesa* Golden area: Forgotten Valley, Chimney Gulch*, Apex Park* Jefferson County: Mt. Falcon*, Elk Meadow* I-70 area: Herman Gulch, Chicago Lakes, Chief Mountain, Hells Hole Rocky Mountain National Park: Calypso Cascades & Ouzel Falls, Finch & Pear Lakes, Flattop Mountain, Gem Lake, Granite Falls, Twin Sisters, Bierstadt Lake, Chasm Lake, Lulu City & Little Yellowstone, The Loch & Andrew's Glacier, Sandbeach Lake Indian Peaks/James Peak Wilderness: King, Bob & Betty Lakes, Forest Lakes, Arapaho Lakes, Mitchell & Blue Lakes, James Peak Area, Heart Lake Northern Colorado: Homestead Meadows, Devil's Backbone*, Lake Agnes Summit & Eagle Counties: Booth Falls, Missouri Lakes, Mohawk Lakes & Continental Falls, South Willow Falls Grand County: St Louis Lake, Waterfall At Snow Mountain Ranch, Granby Ranch Other: Harmonica Arch, Our Favorite Hikes, Our Favorite Bike Rides