Flatiron Loop Trail, Chautauqua Park Trailhead, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado
Flatiron Loop Trail - 2.1 miles
Chautauqua Park Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||2.1 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||5,710' - 5,710' (6,365' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+655' net elevation gain (+708' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Flatiron Loop Trail - 2.1 Miles Round-Trip
The Royal Arch, Flatiron Loop and Chautauqua trails form a short but scenic loop through open space and ponderosa forests at the base of Boulder's Flatirons. The loop's moderate grades are ideal for runners, and a good alternative to more challenging trails leading from Chautauqua Park.
The following route accesses the Royal Arch Trail from Bluebell Road and travels clockwise:
Bluebell Road rises steadily over Chautauqua Park past the Mesa Trail split (.6 miles : 6,005') and Bluebell Shelter to the Royal Arch Trail (.7 miles : 6,095').
The Royal Arch Trail narrows through mixed pine to the Flatiron Loop Trail (.9 miles : 6,188'), variously signed as Flatiron #2 and #3 access. The Flatiron Loop Trail bends west and climbs, shifting quickly through large boulders with a revealing look at Flatiron #2 and #3.
It reaches the Flatiron #3 climbing access spur (1.15 miles : 6,365') - the loop's highest point - and tilts downhill.
The trail crosses an open scree field with views across the eastern plains (on clear days you can see Denver) to consecutive connections for Flatiron #1 access (1.4 miles : 6,253') and the Bluebell-Baird Trail (1.5 miles : 6,160').
Continue straight through both junctions, following signs for the Chautauqua Trail and Chautauqua Park Ranger Station. The Chautauqua Trail emerges from the timber, widens and glides easily down a grassy slope to complete the loop (2.1 miles).
- N39 59.930 W105 16.970 — Chautauqua Park Trailhead
- N39 59.465 W105 17.247 — .7 miles : Bluebell Road merges with Royal Arch Trail
- N39 59.357 W105 17.319 — .9 miles : Bear right on Flatiron Loop Trail
- N39 59.369 W105 17.433 — 1.15 miles : Flatiron #3 climbing access spur
- N39 59.507 W105 17.360 — 1.4 miles : Flatiron #1 access spur
- N39 59.572 W105 17.355 — 1.5 miles : Bluebell Baird - Chautauqua Trail junction
- N39 59.930 W105 16.970 — 2.1 miles : Chautauqua Park Trailhead
- The Flatirons are remnants of the Fountain Formation, a feldspar-rich sand eroded from the ancestral Rocky Mountain uplift 300 million years ago. Sediments left by the ebb and flow of inland oceans compressed this layer into sandstone, which thrust up at an angle 45 million years ago. Water, wind and mechanical erosion have since shaped these exposed rocks into the formations we see today. Royal Arch was sculpted from a stray fracture in this tilted rock layer.
- Climbing access for all of Flatiron #3 (includes: Queen Ann's Head, W.C. Fields Pinnacle, 1911 Gully and the Ghetto), the East Bench and West Bench, the East and West Ironing Boards, the Fin, Green Thumb and Jaws are closed February 1 - July 31 to protect nesting and roosting raptors.
- The Bluebell Shelter was constructed in 1921 by the local Lions Club. The stone wall, hike-in only structure is available for group picnics and activities, and accommodates up to 50 people.
Rules and Regulations
- All dogs must be on a hand-held leash unless they meet Voice and Sight Control Standards and display a City of Boulder Voice and Sight Tag.
- Open fires are illegal. Fires are permitted only in designated picnic areas and shelters. No camping or backpacking allowed. Day use only.
Directions to Trailhead
From Boulder, take Baseline Road west of Broadway 1 mile to the Chautauqua Park entrance on the left hand side of the road.
From Denver, take I-25 North to HWY 36 towards Boulder. As you enter Boulder, turn left onto Baseline Road and turn left. Take Baseline Road for about 1-2 miles and Chautauqua Park will be on your left.
City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks