Royal Arch - From NCAR - Moderate Plus to Strenuous (Short-ish but Steep)

  • Apr 20, 2013 · 7:45 AM
  • This location is shown only to members


WE WILL MEET AT THE TRAILHEAD BETWEEN 7:45 and 8:00, and HIKE BY 8:01 sharp!

If you are running late, you may text us at:[masked] - We will not delay the start time, but will be aware to seek you at the arch or back at the parking lot afterward.

AS ALWAYS - I highly recommend/suggest carpooling



Address: 1850 Table Mesa Drive

Boulder 80305


Round-Trip Length: Approximately 6 miles round trip (out and back)
Elevation Change: +698 ft ascent for a total elevation of 6,801.
Skill Level: Moderate-Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: Yes (leashed)





Starting from NCAR, our route will

be as follows:


1) NCAR trail

2) Mesa Trail

3) Left onto Bluebell Rd

4) Stay left PAST Bluebell-Baird

trail onto Flatirons Loop trail

5) Left at fork onto Royal Arch trail

6) Lather, rinse, repeat in reverse












"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.


Worth Noting

  • The Bluebell Shelter was constructed in 1921 by the local Lions Club. The stone wall, hike-in only structure is available for group picnics and activities, and accommodates up to 50 people.
  • The Royal Arch Trail is a great place to observe climbers on the Flatirons."

Dogs must be on a hand-held leash unless they meet Voice and Sight Control Standards and display a City of Boulder Voice and Sight Tag."



Southern Sun (They are CASH ONLY

- but there is an ATM inside)

627 South Broadway, Boulder, CO 80305, (303)[masked]













2) Organizers  set a rendezvous time to start hiking, but are at no time responsible for your whereabouts on the trail or your punctuality for the pre-meet. Hikes will start on time whether you have arrived or not.

3) Organizers are fellow participants only, not group leaders, professional athletes or health professionals and make no such claims. We cannot advise you on your state of health, fitness level or preparedness, and cannot offer you medical advise or assistance at any time. We are not responsible for your safety of behavior on any event.

4) Please make sure you understand what gear is required for any particular event. We can only make suggestions based on what we perceive conditions will/ might be like, but you must do your own research concerning what is best for you based on your fitness level, stamina, etc., for any particular hike/outing. Please remember that part of the group's mission is to explore new trails. so there will be many outings we have to do our own homework for ourselves.

5) IF you run a carpool, or participate in a carpool, please coordinate with each other as to your individual pace!

6). Bring a change of shoes for the restaurant.  Your feet will thank you!

7) Have fun!!


Join or login to comment.

  • Jim "JP" P.

    Hey! This was an awesome hike! Thanks Rob! Now I am off to REI for some non-bargain basement traction. ;)

    2 · April 20, 2013

  • Angela

    Sorry I can not make this hike this time.

    April 19, 2013

  • shannon

    I hate to change but my friend is only in town that day so I don't want to leave her out. Have fun!!

    April 18, 2013

    • Rob

      We were able to accommodate you and your friend with the list dwindling down.

      April 18, 2013

  • Debbie P.

    Hi, I am having so much back pain that I have to cancel. I am so sorry , I was really looking forward to the outing

    April 18, 2013

  • shannon

    Can I bring my dog and a friend?!

    April 16, 2013

  • Abbas

    With snow this week. I have decided to go snowshoeing one last time. Hopefully someone else can take this spot.:)

    April 16, 2013

  • Joe L.

    If anyone is up in the Fort Collins/Loveland area and would want to car-pool let me know... Thanks!

    April 15, 2013

  • Shawn

    Since we have 14 mi on Sunday I'm going to give someone else a shot at this spot.

    April 15, 2013

  • shannon

    Can I bring my dog?

    April 11, 2013

    • Rob

      yes, leashed

      April 15, 2013

  • Stephen

    One of my favorites hikes!

    April 1, 2013

  • Yurani C.

    Will have my little one with me, but we've done this hike a bazillion times.. :)

    February 26, 2013

  • Stephen

    One of my favorites hikes!

    1 · January 29, 2013

  • Yurani C.

    Will have my little one with me, but we've done this hike a bazillion times.. :)

    January 29, 2013

5 went

Our Sponsors

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sometimes the best Meetup Group is the one you start

Get started Learn more

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy