The 43,000 acres of city-owned open space surrounding Boulder offers over 140 miles of trails for hikers, runners, cyclists and horseback riders. In addition to offering residents and visitors ample recreational opportunities, this open space serves as a buffer between Boulder and its neighbors. (map link)
Royal Arch Hike Boulder Colorado
Trails can be accessed from a number of trailheads on the southwest side of the city. I chose a moderate loop hike to visit Royal Arch, where I was told I’d get a spectacular view of Boulder and the Flatirons, as well as see the only natural arch in the Front Range.
Sometime mid-morning, I filled up my Camelbak and headed out the front door of the Hotel Boulderado, on my way to Chatauqua and the trailhead for the 4 mile roundtrip Royal Arch hike. (My choice to walk to the trailhead from our hotel, added an additional hour and a few miles to my hike.)
From the time I turned off Pearl Street, it was a steady climb. Once reaching Chatauqua and the actual trailhead, the trail begins as a gravel fire road and once turning on the Royal Arch Trail about halfway to the summit the trail got increasingly rocky and steep, with a lot of large rocky steps.
One warning, when you reach the high point on the trail, you are not at the Arch, there is a brief but steep decent followed by another brief, but steep climb to the Arch itself. It will only take 15 minutes or so from the top and the view is amazing, so don’t be tempted to stop at the top – keep going. I just wanted to warn you to avoid the small stream of curses I uttered under my breath upon arriving.
Overall this was a beautiful hike, a beautiful combo of meadows, Ponderosa pine, with an amazing view of Boulder from the top. You’ll be kept company by a good number of fellow outdoor enthusiasts, as well as soaring hummingbirds and maybe even some friendly deer. Since hiking this trail, I’ve see this hike appear in this month’s issue of Backpacker as a “best hike near Denver/Boulder”.