Chatauqua Park in Boulder, Colorado begins at an elevation of 5,710 feet and rises to 7,132′ in 2.9 miles. To give a comparison, New York City sits at 33′, Miami at 5.906′, Los Angeles at 233′, and Chicago at 594′. The park’s trails interlock into each other, with one of its most famous being the Royal Arch, which takes you up a continuous staircase to its tallest point, before opening into an expansive view of Boulder below. But not every trail is as steep. For those unfamiliar to the altitude and thin air, crossing through the Meadow Trail (pictured below) and then looping into Bluebell-Baird, brings you equally scenic and wonderful views.
Each trail’s ascent, whichever you choose, brings you closer to or up the Flatirons – five colossal rock formations along the Green Mountain’s east slope. Some hypothesize the name Flatiron was due to the formations’ similarity to an old-fashioned clothes iron, while others believe it originated from the geological structures’ resemblance to New York’s Flatiron Building, which was completed in 1902.
As you hike, not only incredible landscapes, but also delightful details fill the eyes. Interesting rock formations, red-butted beetles, skyward soaring pines and their tiny acorns, bold rock climbers scaling up the mountain’s side, and shape shifting clouds, are all part of the trails’ magic. And as an extra bonus for dog lovers, there is a fountain at the hike’s end for both hiker and her best friend to have a well-deserved drink to mark the day’s end.