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Red Rocks and Dakota Ridge Loop

Difficult
 3.9 (12) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Connect all the various trails at Red Rocks and Matthews Winters parks for a solid loop with some vertical gain.


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Map Key

10.5

Miles

16.9

KM

86%

Runnable

6,775' 2,065 m

High

5,933' 1,808 m

Low

1,932' 589 m

Up

1,921' 585 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

31%

Max Grade (17°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Views

Overview

This is a fun run amidst the stunning rock formations around Red Rocks Amphitheater. Though the Dakota Ridge Trail is rather rocky, the Red Rocks Trail, Morrison Slide Trail, Trading Post Trail, and Will Call Trail are all smooth, soft on the feet, and well-maintained paths.

Need to Know

Parking at Matthews Winters on a weekend can get crazy—so get there early to get a spot and avoid the crowds.

Runner Notes

Be careful and watch for mountain bikers speeding down Dakota Ridge Trail. There are a lot of blind turns and given the technical difficulty and exposure, it may be hard for the bikers to yield.

Description

Beginning at Matthews Winters Park, follow the Red Rocks Trail across the small stream and a bridge by the bathrooms. You'll go up a small hill and then experience rolling hills through Cherry Gulch Trail until you get to the Morrison Slide Trail, where you begin your first decent-sized climb.

Enjoy the view at the top of Morrison Slide Trail as you look east to Dakota Ridge Trail, where you'll be finishing the run. Following Morrison Slide Trail back down to the Red Rocks Trail, you'll take this to the road. Upon hitting the road, take a right and run alongside the road for a short while. Take your next right up Plains View Road and you'll quickly see the Geologic Connector begin on the left.

Follow this trail up to the picnic area and continue past the bathroom to join the Geologic Overlook Trail where a steep climb begins—be ready for lots of steps. Upon hitting the apex and descending, the road appears once more. Hang a right and run into the Amphitheater itself. Take a few laps along the famous rows or simply head down the steps. You'll want to exit to the right of the stage and from here, keep an eye out for signs to the Trading Post—this is where the Trading Post Loop begins.

You can go either direction on the Trading Post Trail loop as it'll spit you out at the same spot. Follow the trail and enjoy more close proximity to the mighty red rocks along this shorter loop.

Upon finishing Trading Post, hop across the road, directly across from the Trading Post building, to find the Will Call Trail. Follow this trail northeast, cross the park road, and continue on the trail as it heads east. This singletrack will bring you close to Hwy-93 that runs alongside Dakota Ridge Trail. You'll see signs for the Mount Vernon Creek Trail. When you've nearly reached the road, you'll have the option to take a left or right on the Mount Vernon Creek Trail—take a left.

You'll end up at a small parking lot, at which you can see the exit to the main road. Cross the road and you'll see signs for the Red Rocks Trail and Dakota Ridge Trail. Continue along Red Rocks Trail which will guide you to Dakota Ridge Trail.

After the trail spits you out on the road once more, you want to continue down the hill to the right, along Dinosaur Ridge. You'll see a port-a-jon, which is where Dakota Ridge Trail picks back up. From here, you've got the toughest climb of the day–a series of about five hills. It's tough going, but you'll be rewarded with some killer views of Red Rocks to the west and Denver to the east. Dakota Ridge Trail will guide you all the way back to the Matthews Winters parking lot.

Contacts

Shared By:

Michael Tevebaugh

Trail Ratings

  3.9 from 12 votes

#2632

Overall
  3.9 from 12 votes
5 Star
17%
4 Star
58%
3 Star
25%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#359

in Colorado

#2,632

Overall
83 Views Last Month
4,410 Since Mar 24, 2018
Difficult

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80%
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Photos

View looking southeast with various lakes in sight
Jan 7, 2019 near Morrison, CO
Great viewing spot along the trail at the far end of the lollipop
Jan 7, 2019 near Morrison, CO
View from Morrison Slide Trail
Apr 28, 2015 near Morrison, CO
The terrain of the ridge can be a little rocky.
May 22, 2015 near Morrison, CO
View from the ridge with Bandimere Speedway in the background.
May 22, 2015 near Morrison, CO
At the top of the ridge, overlooking the Zorro Trail.
May 21, 2015 near Morrison, CO

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 59 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Oct 7, 2020
R M
Jul 12, 2020
Matt Church
Mar 14, 2020
Matt H
Varied terrain with some good climbs and great views. You go through red rocks park and amphitheater. Good mix of technical and buttery terrain. 10mi — 1h 55m
Aug 11, 2019
Allison Torpey
Just did "suggested" 3.7 mi out and back to Red Rocks road 7.2mi — 1h 30m
Aug 7, 2019
Brandon Rouse
concert in progress! 10.2mi
Jun 25, 2019
Tim Wagner
Got a late start so it was warm, but this is a nice run with varying terrain - from soft and easy to rocky and technical. Rattlesnake and mule deer. 10.7mi — 3h 01m
Jun 23, 2019
Mike Moore
May 17, 2019
Annie Ochs