Killer Day Hike: Royal Arch Trail, Chautauqua Park, Boulder, CO. by Apache Rose. The alma mater of three members of Feral Trek is the University of Colorado, Boulder. We all managed to graduate, although no one did it in four years- more like five or six. The reason’s quite simple: some of the state’s best hiking, climbing, and skiing was in our backyard. Our favorite quick getaway was Chautauqua Park, boasting some of the finest meadow strolls and arduous climbs in the region. Skip your morning class, take a hike, contemplate your existence atop the Flatirons, and be back in time for afternoon Film Studies, Advanced Pottery, or whatever stoked your fires.
My go-to hike was via the Royal Arch Trail, not only for its intrinsic beauty and killer view, but trail run it a dozen times in autumn and you’ve whipped those legs into skiing shape. There’s two ways to access the trail: take the service road up and then cut over to the trail or work your way up the Chautauqua Trail, which meanders into the Royal Arch Trail. The latter is the better option if you want to maximize your appreciation of the park’s raw beauty. The Royal Arch Trail saunters through thick woods and boulders and then goes straight up, climbing 1,400 feet of elevation. Stunning views of the Flatirons greet you along the way. (I once caught sight of a bobcat grinning at me from the shadows of a rock formation). You climb, climb, climb, and then, just when you think you’ve crested, the trail takes a quick dip and drops you a few hundred feet. But the good news is that you’re nearly there. Climb back up and you about stumble on the Arch. She’s a beauty, a wondrous sandstone arch spanning two great viewing locations of the Flatirons, Boulder, Denver, and Golden. The total hike roundtrip is a bit over 3 miles. Go Feral for a day and do the hike! You won’t be disappointed.
Chautauqua Park: Baseline Rd & 9th St, Boulder, CO 80302
Chautauqua Park Trail Map: https://www-static.bouldercolorado.gov/docs/chautauqua-meadow-trail-map-1-201307151401.pdf