Royal Arch Trail
- Physical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
- Technical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
The Royal Arch trail takes you to a large arch in the Boulder Flatirons that is hidden just out of view. We love to combine the hike to Royal Arch with a visit to the First Flatiron. You can only see Royal Arch if you hike it!
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Route Description for Royal Arch Trail
To start the Royal Arch trail from Chautauqua Park, pass by the Ranger Station and begin at the trailhead for Chautauqua Trail. Hike uphill, with the Flatirons directly in front of you along a wide gravel path. At your first junction go left, continuing on Chautauqua Trail.
At the next junction, go straight, and the trail now becomes the Flatirons Loop Trail. You’ll quickly pass the junction for the 1st / 2nd Flatiron, however at this junction continue straight. Follow the Flatirons Loop until it merges with the Royal Arch Trail. The elevation profile of this popular trail resembles the letter ‘N’, involving a steep uphill section, followed by a steep downhill section and then another steep uphill section.
The first steep uphill climbs up rocky steps to the top of Sentinel Pass. At Sentinel Pass, there is a steep downhill that descends along a loose, rocky trail with a few sections of tough hiking. As soon as you are down, you are back up again, hiking a steep rocky section that eventually turns into steep switchbacks.
Royal Arch stays hidden from view as you hike, all the way up until the final turn! Towering over you, the trail brings you right up through the center of Royal Arch. Just on the other side there are awesome boulders for sitting down, resting, and taking in the views! From Royal Arch you also get a pretty stellar view of the 3rd Flatiron as the arch creates its own picture frame around it.
To descend, hike back the way you came.
Hiking Trail Highlights
One of Boulder’s hidden gems, the Royal Arch lies hidden amid the iconic Flatirons, and is a fantastic hiking and climbing destination in its own right. Like the rugged, slanted flatirons themselves, the Royal Arch is made up of distinctive, red-brown sandstone, which glows beautifully under the warm summer sun. This incredible natural arch also provides a fantastic photo opportunity, perfectly framing the 3rd Flatiron and the surrounding forest.
The beautiful rocks that make up the Royal Arch are remnants of the Fountain Formation, a layer of mineral-rich deposits that were gradually compressed into sandstone millions of years ago. The tectonic forces that created the Rocky Mountains pushed this layer to the surface, and over the years this remarkable arch was sculpted by the elements, creating the majestic shape that we see today. Although the climb to the top requires some serious leg work, we think it’s well worth the effort – the Royal Arch is a sublime example of natural architecture, and a highlight of any trip to Boulder.
Find more amazing hikes around Boulder:
Insider Hints for Royal Arch Trail
- Pay to park at Chautauqua Park.
- Combine this route with the hike to the 1st Flatiron for a great day out!
Getting to the Royal Arch Trail Trailhead
The Royal Arch trail begins at Chautauqua Park at the base of the Boulder Flatirons. Take Baseline Rd. towards Flagstaff Mountain, parking is available along Baseline Rd. or in Chautauqua Park.
Royal Arch Trail Elevation Graph
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Royal Arch Trail Reviews
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- Chautauqua, Bluebell and Baird Trail
- Bluebell, Woods Quarry, and Enchanted Mesa Loop
- Royal Arch, Bluebell and Meadow Loop
- Boulder Mesa Loop Trail
- Baseline Trial
- Bluebell Mesa Trail
- Boulder Mesa Trail
- Chautauqua and Bluebell Loop Trail
- Chautauqua Trail
- First and Second Flatirons Loop
- Flagstaff Mountain
- 1st Flatiron