Pending on weather let's go for a Saturday afternoon hike.
An easier hike than Mt. Sanitas and a must see for New to Boulderites. Well worth the hike. Bring water or fill bottle outside of Ranger Station. Should have hiking shoes.
- Round-Trip Length: 3.2 miles
Directions to Trailhead
From Boulder Take Baseline Road west past 9th street and Chautauqua Park is on the left hand side. Turn left into Chautauqua Park. Overflow parking is also available along Baseline Road, south of the park entrance.
Royal Arch is perched high along a rugged fold in the Boulder Flatirons. These rocks are remnants of the Fountain Formation, a mineral-rich sand eroded from the ancestral Rocky Mountain uplift 300 million years ago. Sediments deposited by the ebb and flow of inland oceans compressed this layer into sandstone, thrust upward 45 million years ago by the same tectonic forces that created our modern Rocky Mountains.
Royal Arch is a fragment of the exposed Fountain Formation sculpted by water, wind and mechanical erosion into the 20' span we see today.
The following describes the most direct route to Royal Arch, which begins at the Chautauqua Park Ranger Station and climbs Bluebell Road to access the Royal Arch Trail:
Bluebell Road rises steadily over Chautauqua Park past the Mesa Trail junction (.6 miles : 6,005') and Bluebell Shelter to the Royal Arch Trail (.7 miles : 6,095').
The Royal Arch Trail narrows through mixed pine to a connection for Flatiron #2 and #3, and bends south up a steep, narrow gulch (.9 miles : 6,188'). Note apple, plumb and maple in this ecologically varied riparian corridor.
The trail steepens considerably as it breaks away from the upper-gulch into a cluttered forest (1.2 miles : 6,530'). It continues strenuously to Sentinel Pass (1.35 miles : 6,768'), a rocky notch at the top of Bluebell Canyon. Examine close-up cross-sections of the Flatiron rock formations before pressing on.
The trail drops from Sentinel pass about 100' and resumes a strenuous, twisting climb over the steady trickle of Tangen Spring to the base of Royal Arch (1.6 miles : 6,915'). Walk under Royal Arch to a set of rocky outcrops with sweeping views over the Boulder foothills, eastern plains and, on a clear, downtown Denver.
- Start-End Elevation: 5,710' - 6,915' (6,915' max elevation)
- Elevation Change: +1,205' net elevation gain (+1,417' total roundtrip elevation gain)
- Skill Level: Moderate-Strenuous
- Dogs Allowed: Yes, bring fido if he/she is good, Boulder says on a leash unless responds to commands.