Today did the Royal Arch hike in boulder with a buddy and his son and my daughter. Pretty easy and leisurely 1st half, we did it with a family with three kids, 2 twins at 1.5 years old so we weren’t setting any records as we meandered, letting the kids goof around and make all sorts of cool discoveries along the trail including frost-covered leaves. Everybody we went with were friends from Chicago who moved to boulder around the same time as us so was a little taste of home. We got up to the bluebell outhouse area where the Royal Arch trail splits off and gets much more rugged, John and I and our respective kids branched off while the rest took one of the many loops back to the cars and the chataqua main trailhead. John set a quick pace. Both kids were in backpack carriers so definitely added some challenge in the really steep sections. Near the top you think you’re done but there is a bit of downhill then a bit more uphill and then the very cool arch. It was super crowded at the top with all sorts of dogs and people but mostly friendly and most folks were really pleasant. Down I thought would be really rough on my knees but it was no big deal. One factor was the cold, much of the trail after it branched off was up a canyon on the north slope of the mountain in a forest so it got very little sun, which made for chilly going especially for the kids who weren’t burning any energy sitting in the backpacks. We managed but Ev was pretty sad at the end, I held her feet to warm them. All in all a great adventure and good quality time with friends and family.
Royal Arch trail is one of many trails starting in chataqua park in boulder which is located about as far west as you can go on Baseline road (take a left into the parking lot, maybe you’ll get lucky with a spot or park on baseline) before it heads up flagstaff mountain. Parking can be tough after 9am or so on weekends and many weekdays for that matter, consider uber or lyft. The main trailhead is obvious at the southwest end of the parking lot towards the flatirons. There is a big trailmap posted and all trails are very well marked. There is an enormous trail system with all sorts of hikes for all types of folks including rock climbs up the flatirons that are accessed from the same trails. All different loops are possible as well as a climb up green mountain, hikes out to NCAR and El Dorado canyon and many others. Royal Arch is but one of many and certainly a highlight.