Outdoors: Hike Boulder's Chautauqua Park

March 20 2012, 9:30 AM

Why we love it: It is quintessential Boulder. 

When to go: A weekday (unless you are inclined to spend time with the entire city).

Boulder goes crazy for spring. College kids lay out on any patch of grass they can find, runners emerge from their indoor treadmills, and bikers grin as they ride freshly cleared trails. Where can all these nature lovers find their bliss? Chautauqua Park.

Dog walkers, hikers, climbers, trail runners, wanderers are all found in the park, especially as the weather warms (see: this week's forecast). The base is crowded, but as you get higher, you’ll only occasionally pass another traveler. 

Part of the fun is picking your own path and finding out where it leads, but my personal favorite hike is the Royal Arch trail, a moderate path with some steep inclines, rocky stairs, and a fantastic payoff when you break through the forest and can see all of spring-crazy Boulder below. 

Getting there: Take I-25 north, then US-36 West to the Baseline exit and take a left. Go straight up until you see the Chautauqua signs. Parking can be tight, but there’s plenty of spots in the surrounding neighborhoods.

—Photo courtesy of Colorado Chautauqua Association