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Family history hike: Learn about rock layers at the Hogback Ridge I-70 cut

Start of the path
Start of the path
Deb Stanley

Millions of people see the rock layer cuts as they drive Interstate 70 through the hogback near Golden every year, but have you ever stopped and walked the trail here? It's a nice family walk with signs that will teach you a little about geology.

Dakota Ridge hogback layers
Deb Stanley

Start by parking at the southeast area of the T-Rex Parking Lot (directions below). There are two parking spots here with signs that say "One hour parking 9 a.m. to 7 p.m." I assume that's for people visiting this short trail.

You should see a paved path along the edge of ridge and several signs. While the first 2-4 signs are covered in graffiti, there are several more along the trail that are not.

One of the signs explains that this is the Morrison layer. Yes, it is named for the town just a short distance away. That's because Morrison was the first place that these layers were recognized as a distinct geologic unit. As you walk, you'll see the Morrison layer and the Lytle layer. You'll see layers of clay and learn about the colors. And a sign will ever explain why, if you walk here on a warm day, you may smell sulfur.

Take your time, read the signs and look at the rocks.

If you walk to the end of the path and look east and north, you may spot a relic from another piece of Colorado's history -- an old mining structure.

When you're done exploring, return the way you came.

By the way, while the path starts out paved, as you walk along the path, you'll find areas covered with a thick layer of dirt and mud obscuring the pavement. That's because over time, the dirt is washing down the hillside.

Other great family hikes in the area are the Triceratops Trail in Golden and the Lair O' The Bear Trail to a castle. Get more ideas on this list of 200+ hikes in Colorado.

Details: The hike to the end of the path and back is about a half mile with 15 feet of elevation gain.

Directions: From I-70, take the Heritage Ridge/Morrison Road/Highway 93/Highway 40 exit and turn north. Go to the light and turn east into the T-Rex Park-N-Ride lot.

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