Family Weekender: Denver

Royal Arch Trail Chautauqua Park
By Bill Scanlon
  |  Gorp.com
Go Guide: Royal Arch Trail, Chautauqua Park

Activity: Hiking

Age Levels: 6 and up for hearty little hikers

Hours from Denver: 3/4

Getting There: Reach the park by taking Interstate 25 north from Denver to the Boulder turnoff at U.S. 36. Take the Baseline Road exit in Boulder and head west toward the mountains. At 8th Avenue, turn left into the park. At the trailhead, follow the signs to Royal Arch Trail.

Extra Treats: Also try the park's Bluebonnet Trail.

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Where else but Boulder's Chautauqua Park, can you stand mesmerized beneath a 25-foot arch, with the Third Flatiron behind you and downtown Denver's skyscrapers in front of you?

Most of the trail is wooded, shady, and beautiful on a 5-mile hike. After crossing a small creek, the steep climb begins. Part of the hike is so rocky and steep that it's almost like walking up stairs. You'll reach a false summit, drop down a bit and start climbing again.

Don't pass the caves—they're actually enlarged cracks between slabs of rock—without doing a little exploring. If it's hot, the whole family can cool off by squeezing into the caves. Look up at the 20-foot ceilings.

The final hike to the arch isn't hazardous, but once there, remind the kids to be careful scrambling over rocks.

Royal Arch appears to be formed by several rocks that tumbled together and stuck. Sit on some rocks, eat lunch, and gaze at the beautiful arch rising 25 feet above the ground. Views? On a clear day you can see south to Pikes Peak. The downtown Denver skyline is plainly in sight.

Views? On a clear day you can see south to Pikes Peak. The downtown Denver skyline is plainly in sight.


Article © Bill Scanlon.


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