Royal Arch Trail

HARD 2,107 reviews
#1 of 84 trails in

Royal Arch Trail is a 3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Boulder, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
3.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,377 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

rocky

scramble

snow

Start on Chautauqua trail by the ranger station. After crossing a grassy meadow you enter a pine forest. Start paying attention to signs for Royal Arch as a number of other trails branch off. You know you're going the right way when you get to the flagstone staircase.

hiking
4 hours ago

Great trail. Lots of climbing on the way up, but it’s all worth it for the views at the top. Go early to avoid the crowds – it was already pretty busy at 7am and people were lined up inching along the narrow paths on on the way down. Free parking is available about 10 blocks away.

hiking
9 hours ago

Great morning hike! Took me 2 hours with a 15 min stop at peak.

1 day ago

Certainly challenging, but nothing to lose sleep over. Expect to wait in line if you’re hoping to get decent pictures at the top.

hiking
2 days ago

This is definitely a “hard” trail, bust super proud when I finished! Practically all up hill on the way there but that means down hill on the way back! The views at the top are beautiful! I would recommend starting it sooner rather than later so the traffic is low and the sun isn’t too high!

hiking
2 days ago

We enjoyed this hike! It was definitely a high incline and rocky but it was worth it. It was a bit harder then expected the the views are beautiful and the arch is pretty neat. Bring lots of water, take stops and enjoy the outdoors! There are trees on a lot of the hike which gives some much needed shade every now and then.

2 days ago

Thought we would start here on vacation to get used to the elevation before heading to RMNP but this was a tough hike for us. Arch bigger than expected and nice view of flatirons

hiking
2 days ago

This was a very nice short first day hike for our CO vacation to get acclimated to walking at this altitude/weather. I would put the overall difficulty more towards moderate, but it’s a tough call as parts are easy, parts are moderate, and there are some steeper stretches that are more difficult. We went relatively early on a July weekday and the number of people going up was not bad at all, but we passed a ton of people going the other way as we can back down. Yes, bring water, wear good hiking shoes, sunscreen, etc and otherwise use common sense. Although short, the trail has more of the feel of a “hike” than a walk in the park.

3 days ago

Good one

hiking
4 days ago

Beautiful views from the Royal Arch and worth the effort it takes to hike up! Would not recommend this trail for small children, elderly, or dogs that are not experienced hiking companions in high altitudes. Very steep, rocky, and mostly vertical climb. Several areas require scrambling. You’ll want a good pair of hiking/approach shoes. Do not take this trail if you have bad knees, hips, or ankles. Otherwise, enjoy!

hiking
4 days ago

Almost 100% vertical. Take breaks, bring water. Go early on a weekday - my group went on a Sunday late morning, and it was super crowded. Trail is fairly narrow and rocky, which makes navigating the crowds fairly difficult.

hiking
5 days ago

Nice view of city and UOC Boulder from top. Great view of the flatirons. Steep toward the end. Arch is very impressive. Saw lots of raptor hawks. A hazy view of Denver in the distance.

6 days ago

very good hike!! it was a tough uphill but only took a little over an hour to the arch. total about 2 hr round trip for us. loved the workout!

hiking
6 days ago

I’d do it again, mainly because it is such a great little workout. Don’t underestimate that uphill! It is totally doable though. There is a $2.50/hr parking fee between 8 and 5, but I recommend hiking before 8am anyway this time of year. 6am would be ideal so that you get the most shade and the best temperature to make the hike as pleasant as possible.

hiking
7 days ago

Did this on a Monday early afternoon after misreading the Flatiron closure warnings. Heavily trafficked - lots of groups, people playing music in their phones aloud, etc - with that said it’s not a national park or anything. Great variety for a shorter trail. Beautiful views, busy at the arch but was able to wait out the crowds to get the pictures I wanted.

hiking
7 days ago

Really hard but worth it

8 days ago

Loved it. Went in early March and there was a little snow but vey manageable. Will definitely di it again.

10 days ago

pretty view at the top, a lot of rocky steps, not for the beginner, bring lots of water and snacks.

hiking
11 days ago

Awesome hike! A lot harder than I thought considering older reviews. The arch is pretty meh...its just one big arch...no big deal. Would definitely do it again due to how tough it is.

12 days ago

absolutely wonderful trail, good push over a short distance and you end up at a wonderful geological oddity. I recommend this trail!

hiking
12 days ago

This hike is well worth the effort once you're at the top. The view is incredible! My husband and I recently relocated to the Denver area for work, so we were still kind of acclimating to the elevation and that made it more challenging. It was absolutely beautiful though! We felt really accomplished.

Some general tips for visitors: GO EARLY! We started the hike at 7:30am and we snagged one of the last parking spots near the trail head. Take a lot of water, take a few snacks, go slow, wear good shoes. Enjoy!

13 days ago

We love this trail. We’ve done it four years in a row when we visit. Tomorrow will be #5!

hiking
14 days ago

We went in the early morning before it got hot. The hike was challenging with lots of rocky terrain and a steady vertical trail. The views from the top were amazing, but on a Monday it was still crowded. Take lots of water, be ready to climb, and avoid if you have bad knees.

hiking
14 days ago

Worth your time! For sure!
Not the easiest trail by far (we are out-of-towners) when you live at sea level.
But the views were amazing! Started out early on a Monday and we were lucky to have found a parking spot.
If you have knee issues, I wouldn’t venture out there. We clocked in at 90+ flights of stairs by the time we reached the end.
So... our advice....
Start super early! Bring snacks and lots of water!
Be prepared for a good workout with spectacular views.

hiking
14 days ago

My boyfriend and I were in the area on our last day in town and decided at the last minute to hike this trail without really knowing what we were getting ourselves into. As others have mentioned, it was a bit of a doozy (especially after a few cocktails the night before and visiting from sea level), but the view from the top was beautiful and made the climb worth it.
Be sure to:
- Go early
- Bring water
- Have patience...there were hoards of people on the trail
- Pay for more parking than you think you'll need in case you need extra time
- Visit the General Store for ice cream after :)

14 days ago

Hard trail, but worth the view!

15 days ago

I would rate this hard. Two hiking sticks were a burden, one would be helpful. Some climbing/ scrambling on this trail.

15 days ago

Toughest hike I've ever done, so worth it in the end!

hiking
15 days ago

Beautiful hike, went early in the morning and there were hardly any people. It was a overcast day which made for some fairly epic cloud formations at the top!

hiking
15 days ago

Great hike! This one gets tough toward the top, but rewards you with great views and a crazy cool arch rock formation.
The hike leaves from the same park as many other Boulder trails and shares many of the same paths until branching off.
It can get busy at the top, but wait a few minutes and get a good seat to chill a bit and enjoy the view.

17 days ago

A nice hike to get a good sweat going and the view at the end is great. We went on a weekday afternoon and although the parking lot at Chautauqua was full (when isn't it?) the further up you go the less people you run into. I imagine on the weekends it would be a bit too crowded for me but if you're only in town for the weekend go for it.

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