October 9, 2016
Royal Arch Trail
Trailhead: Chautauqua Trail (or, off of Bluebell Road)
Distance: 3.4 miles (easy/moderate)
Sometimes life gets to be too much. I'm working two different jobs and going to school full-time and sometimes I go to class smelling like diaper cream and play-doh and it stresses me out to the max. When that happens, I look to the mountains.
For this particular hike, I had been driving into Broomfield every day for work (not a commute that I entirely recommend) and the Flatirons were calling my name. I couldn't ignore them. Logan stayed home and watched football and I spent the morning climbing up a million and a half stairs to reach Royal Arch.
I went to Chautauqua before on a solo hike and just fell in love with the vibe there. Its basically a choose-your-own-adventure park, with dozens of different trails and access to different activities (from walking to hiking to trail running to bouldering to rock climbing). The best part? Most of the trails connect eventually, so you can add or subtract milage to your heart's desire.
Pro tip: If you're doing a solo hike and you don't really understand the exact directions to a trailhead (in a park), look at the map. See if the trail connects with a trailhead you ARE familiar with. For this one, I had no idea how to get to Bluebell Road, but I did know Chautauqua Trail. So instead of wandering around feeling uncomfortable, I went with the trailhead I knew and had a great time!
The beginning of this trail is deceiving. It's a slow grade uphill over smooth dirt paths. When you get to about 1 mile left in the trail, it turns into a giant stone staircase. I played leapfrog with a couple of groups here as we all joked about now being able to skip the stairmaster this week. Once you make it to the top of the stairs, you have to scramble down a boulder face that almost made me turn around (I'm so bad at going downhill - knee surgery has helped the physical aspect but mentally I'm a big baby) had it not been for the group of people I attached myself to. And then after the scramble there's MORE uphill!
Here's the thing about hiking in Colorado, though. It's always worth it. I have yet to do a hike where I put in an exorbitant amount of effort and then got to my destination and said "meh." Every single time the struggle is worth it.
Wouldn't you agree?
Yeah, Royal Arch was definitely worth it.