Royal Arch Trail

HARD 1,975 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
6 hours ago

Awesome views! Harder than we anticipated but worth every step we took.

hiking
12 hours ago

Great hike, definitely tough! Lots and lots of "stairs". View at the top is totally worth it Go early, we started at 7:30 on Saturady morning and as we were going back down, the trail was packed with people heading up.

hiking
13 hours ago

Proposed to my gf at the Royal Arch, beautiful view that shouldn’t be missed out on!

hiking
1 day ago

2 days ago

Very heavily travelled trail, the view is worth it, but go early. most hikers get to the Arch and hang out having lunch etc, so it is very crowded at the top.

3 days ago

It’s not that hard as these people saying!!! Not 3 miles, 1.8 miles in! It was pretty easy for me and my 3 months old puppy mini Aussie made it like it was nothing!! No more than 2 hours in and out, not even 4 miles in total!

hiking
3 days ago

Good, challenging trail. Nothing too crazy, but you will definitely get a workout in. The trail is heavily trafficked and narrow at points. When getting closer to the top the trail gets rocky and you go down and then up again. Even though you go down, you still have a bit (maybe about 20 minutes) to go, so don’t be surprised - you’re not done climbing yet! Views from the top and the arch are beautiful. Worth the climb.

hiking
4 days ago

My husband and I were prepared for a hike and wanted to see flat top but it was closed so we chose to take the royal arch trail on the spot. We had two 1L bottles of water and needed more! Stopped several times to catch our breath. Granted we’re out of shape. But if you’re not at least moderately active this will be a tough trail. The view up top is worth it if you’re prepared. I would only take a working class dog up- I saw a few people with small dogs and children and felt bad for them.

hiking
5 days ago

Good trail, some parts were really hard.

5 days ago

bring more water, thats for sure! the trail is really hard. once you reach to the top. its its worthy

hiking
5 days ago

Definitely a harder than most hike as it is a pretty steep incline. Beautiful views at the top. Get there early!!! The trail is literally packed after 10am and it is way too small to accommodate that many people.

7 days ago

Went on a Monday morning and seemed to avoid the crowds. Beautiful hike with a few tricky spots towards the top. Wear good shoes, bring lots of water.

I haven’t done any hiking in a while so I fully agree with the ‘hard’ rating. Personally I would wear shoes with ankle stability because of all the loose rocks, but doable in sneakers (that’s what I was wearing). It was a pretty busy trail but mellowed out once you get off the paved portion. The view at the top was breathtaking!

hiking
7 days ago

Challenging hike but fun and view is worth it at the end. Bring lots and lots of water.

8 days ago

Somewhat challenging hike. Pretty views but so overrun with tourism I don't care to go much anymore

Infinite Stairmaster, that is for sure. Challenging but rewarding! High traffic with lots of people.

hiking
10 days ago

This was a great hike! Definitely challenging. I had to stop a few times to catch my breath (I’m not from Colorado). It took us about 1 hour, 20 minutes to get to the top and about an hour back. Wear good shoes as there was a lot of rocks on the trail. Definitely worth the work out. Beautiful at the top.

hiking
11 days ago

The fact that this trail is rated hard is no joke. Bring water and food, prepare for a rough trip up. It feels way longer than it lets on and YOU WILL GET A WORKOUT. The view at the top was solid, but I wouldn't call it mind-blowing. I went in the evening and the arch was decently crowded, although I did get about 5 minutes to enjoy it alone. Didn't have a hard time with parking. On a side note: PLEASE leave your young children at home. I can't count on both hands the amount of people I saw struggling with children under 10 that clearly didn't belong there. Get a babysitter and enjoy yourselves.

hiking
11 days ago

Gorgeous view at the top. Definitely worth the visit.
Round trip took us about 3 and a half hours (6:15 am to 9:45 am), including a 20-minute stay at the top, soaking in all the spectacular views.
Heavy traffic; however, hikers were super nice and courteous.
The parking lot is small, but we found at least 5 spots for us to choose from at 6 am.
A lot of beautiful wildflowers along the trail.
Strenuous hike; hiking pole(s) highly recommended.
Take a lot of water.

hiking
11 days ago

Gorgeous view at the top. Definitely worth the visit.
Round trip took us about 3 and a half hours (6:15 am to 9:45 am), including a 20-minute stay at the top, soaking in all the spectacular views.
Heavy traffic; however, hikers were super nice and courteous.
The parking lot is small, but we found at least 5 spots for us to choose from at 6 am.
A lot of beautiful wildflowers along the trail.
Strenuous hike; hiking pole(s) highly recommended.
Take a lot of water.

hiking
12 days ago

Challenging, but certainly rewarding. Started at around 8:30am on a Saturday. Would recommend starting earlier, as it was a little crowded with families, which wasn’t ideal for us.

14 days ago

Hard trail, but worth it when you get to the arch!!! Great views at the top

hiking
14 days ago

Not sure why it says a loop trail as this is an out and back. One of my favorite trails in Boulder, although it is not the choice if you're seeking solitude. On a Summer weekend it can be crazy busy, so you're better off doing it during the week. If you absolutely must go on a weekend, try doing it later in the day. If you leave the trail head between 5 and 6, you a) won't have to fight or pay for parking, b) will encounter far fewer people and c) will still have 2.5-3 hours to complete the trip given the long days in the Summer. I did it today, leaving the trailhead around 5:30, and had the top to myself for around an hour before heading back down. It is a fairly strenuous trail, with around 1250ft of elevation gain (the 1377 ft number is incorrect if you're measuring from the ranger station) over roughy 2.1 miles, but there isn't really any scrambling to speak of (maybe a tiny bit at the end depending on where you want to hang out around the arch).

15 days ago

hiking
15 days ago

Challenging hike rewarded with great views.

hiking
16 days ago

This trail is a good gateway for loving and appreciating a challenging hike

20 days ago

Closed June 25-28 from 8:00-4:30!!!!
We walked up the 45 incline gravel hill in the sun for a long time to find it is closed. Don’t make our mistake!

20 days ago

amazing so glad I pushed myself. not easy for a beginner but well worth it!

hiking
20 days ago

Heads up summer hikers! Trail is being worked on this week, therefore it is closed from Monday (6/25) through Friday. Great hike when is open, plan accordingly!

hiking
21 days ago

The trail was amazing. Our first hike in Boulder, it didn’t disappoint. We had a friend recommend to us. It was wonderful. It’s hard, for sure have sunscreen and water. You need to stay hydrated. Good footwear is a must! Dogs are allowed, all were super behaved. It does get busy. Going early is a good idea. Parking lot is small, and it’s paid parking. There is parking on the street as well. Plan for about 3 hours for this hike!

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