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  • May 9, 2013 · 9:00 AM
  • This location is shown only to members

Please advise me by either email that you are aware of this cancellation. Thanks.


Note:  This is a 7.3 mile, 1,400+ elevation gain, moderate/moderate-strenuous hike starting at NCAR.

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 most direct route to Royal Arch, begins at the Chautauqua Park Ranger Station and climbs Bluebell Road to access the Royal Arch Trail. To ensure plenty of parking we will begin at NCAR. This will also make the hike closer in length to many of our other hikes, about 7.3 miles. We will take the following route: NCAR trail to Mesa Trail to Bluebell Road to Flatirons Loop trail to Royal Arch trail and return following the route in reverse.

A map of the trails can be found here

I have seen this hike categorized as both Moderate and Moderate-Strenuous.

The following description from 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 (we will follow much to this route):

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.

Directions to Trailhead:

NCAR can be reached from Hiway 93/Broadway in Boulder by going West on on Table Mesa Drive approximately 1.3 miles continuing onto NCAR Road (a continuation of Table Mesa Dr) 1.2 miles.  NCAR's Mesa Lab will be on the right. The parking lot will be just past the lab.

Optional Lunch after the hike at Twisted Pine Brewery, 3201 Walnut Street Boulder, CO 80301,[masked]-9270.

Carpooling: For those coming from the Southern Metro area meet at 8 am at Wooly Mammoth (we will leave at 08:10 sharp).

Those coming from the Northern Metro area meet at the parking lot located at the northeast corner of Hiway 93/170 at 08:30. (we will leave at 08:40 sharp.

We will meet those coming from Boulder at NCAR at 08:55.

We will leave NCAR at 09:05.

Important Note:  This is a participate at your own risk event!

Life is risky. I am not a professional guide.  By signing up for this hike you acknowledge that you are solely responsible for your own safety.

See you there!

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  • Richard E.

    Hi! Thank you for you effort in setting the trip up and hope to go on the next one!

    May 9, 2013

  • Terry G.

    Hopefully we can do this someday with better weqather.

    May 9, 2013

  • Cynthia

    rain coming down hard in lakewood. assume same deal in boulder. thanks, keith, but going to stay home thursday.

    May 8, 2013

  • linda

    Love to do this hike, but not in the rain. Maybe another time.

    May 8, 2013

  • Charly

    Changing RSVP due to rain. Enjoy the day.

    May 8, 2013

  • Don B.

    With a full on head cold I am going to take it easy for one day. Be extra careful on the steeper steps.

    May 8, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    According to weather report - more rain in forecast & ground is saturated - sounds like a mudfest. Like to do this hike, but another time.

    May 8, 2013

  • Mollie

    As much as I was looking forward to the day with you all, I am a fair weather hiker when it comes to the rain. I'd rather have snow...see you next time

    May 8, 2013

  • Bob S.

    Sorry to cancel but rainy day today and forecast tomorrow is too wet for me

    May 8, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    too rainy

    May 8, 2013

  • Don

    I've had a few knee surgeries in the past 20 months and after climbing this trail a couple times in the past I know better not to try at this time.

    May 8, 2013

  • Mary J.

    Would love for someone to give their opinion on a newby to hiking. I've not hiked at all but use my elliptical every day. I just don't know which hikes I should try but would love to get out there. Any/all suggestions are welcome. Thanks in advance! :)

    May 1, 2013

    • L. E.

      Check out:"What about hiking Bill Couch Mountain in Deer Creek Canyon Park"­ And "Hike Windy Saddle Park"­.

      May 7, 2013

    • Mary J.

      Thank you Lara. The Lookout Mtn hike sounds good. Going to try to move things around so I can go!

      May 7, 2013

  • Charly

    Keith, Victoria and I will park at Chautauqua and meet up with the group at the trail junction. We're planning on lunch. I wrote you an email. Thanks.

    May 6, 2013

  • Linda

    Will probably be too rainy for me--slick rocks. Have fun!

    May 5, 2013

  • Harrison C

    Got Yankees tickets - Go Rockies

    May 1, 2013

  • Debbie

    Yay for Linda, this is the home of Billies Chilis!!!

    1 · April 20, 2013

  • Terry G.

    Cool, checking out a new brewery.

    April 20, 2013

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