The Flatirons Offer the Best Hiking and Rock Climbing Near Boulder
If you have to ask why the Flatirons are on our list of favorite attractions in Boulder, you clearly have yet to visit these majestic rock formations and their surrounding wilderness. They’re also the most common symbol of Boulder—the subject of countless photographs, paintings, drawings, and sculptures.
Those of you who know why we love the Flatirons, get out there—take in a hike— do some rock climbing. Those of you who don’t, read on to discover something new you can do for fun around Boulder.
The majority of trails in and around the Flatirons start in the Chautauqua grounds, and we recommend the 6-mile Mesa Trail as a good starter for the amateur hiker. This gentle tour over relatively flat terrain takes hikers around the base, with the trail ending in Eldorado Springs.
While the Royal Arch Trail comes in much shorter at just 1.5 miles, it has a gain of over 1200 feet in elevation. If you have some hiking experience under your belt or are up for a challenge, you can still get a glimpse at the base of the foothills offered on the Mesa Trail before scaling rock stairs and finishing the hike at a sandstone arch with one of the best views of East Boulder.
The First Flatiron and Gregory Canyon Trails are both recommended for intermediate hikers, with the former weaving between the first two Flatirons and finishing near the peak of Flatiron-1. The Gregory Canyon Trail rises almost 1,000 feet in its mile-long hike and is sure to deliver a workout, and when you reach the end, you can follow either the Saddle Rock Trail or the Green Mountain Trail if you’re feeling particularly adventurous.
There are sections of The Flatirons that have been routinely scaled by professional climbers, with climbing access spurs located at Flatironette and Flatiron-1. With foot notches worn into the rock face, it’s just a quick scramble between you and an unforgettable view of Boulder. The Saddle Rock Trail split also has an alcove behind Flatiron-1 that’s just a short climb up from the trail.
We’ve spent some time talking about how fun it is to go rock climbing or take a good long hike at the Flatirons, but we want you to remember to always put safety first. Even the most seasoned adventurer shouldn’t go out alone.