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Hiking in Jefferson County: T-Rex parking lot to Tin Cup Hogback Park

This is the start of the trail up to the ridge
This is the start of the trail up to the ridge
Deb Stanley

Waiting for friends at the T-Rex parking lot? Then go for a hike!

Hogback Trail
Deb Stanley

On the east side of the parking lot, near the middle of the lot, you might spot a single-track trail going up a steep hill -- that's a hiking trail. I call it "Doug's Trail," because my friend Doug uses to get between the bus stop on Colfax Avenue and the carpool parking lots. While the trail doesn't have an official name on google maps, google maps does show a trail starting in the T-Rex parking lot and going across the hogback.

Start by hiking up the steep, single-track trail to the top of the hill. As you climb here, to your right, you'll see the colorful layers of rock on the other side of I-70 where the hogback was cut for the highway. To your left, you'll see the Specification Aggregate Quarry. The quarry's operations are difficult to see from the road, but easy to see from up here.

You'll gain about 125 feet in the first quarter mile to the top of the ridge. At the top, you'll be in and out of the trees and walk past a tall electrical tower.

Turn north and follow the trail along the ridge. At times, you'll find yourself on the top of the ridge and at times on the west side for the first part of the hike.

About 0.4 miles from the parking lot, you'll pass a Jefferson County Open Space Trail sign that says, "Park boundary." Interesting, because there are no other signs here. I don't know if this is the boundary for an unnamed hogback park, Tip Cup Hogback Park or something else.

While this trail is not quiet, due to the large amount of traffic and the nearby quarry, it is typically desolate, in that very few, if any, people hike here, though I did see some cycle tire tracks. As you follow the trail, enjoy the small sections of "forest," the clusters of rock and the views of the Eastern Plains.

As you hike, you'll notice the trail is dropping in elevation. About 3/4 of a mile from the trailhead, the trail drops, goes through a downed, barbed wire fence and crosses to the east side of the ridge. You may also notice some interesting cuts in the rock. This appears to be some sort of old quarry complete with a rusted gate at the bottom.

This is a great landmark if you'd like a hike of about 1.5 miles roundtrip. Otherwise, continue on the path as it winds along the (now) east side of the hogback. As you walk, the park below you is Tin Cup Hogback Park - a park with no playground, but lots of fields. Sometimes the park is packed with people, sometimes it's empty.

Suddenly about one mile from the parking lot, the trail takes a big right turn and left turn. Yep, a siwtchback. This is yet another good landmark if you want to turn around, creating a two mile hike.

However, if you want to continue further, the trail goes about another quarter mile before it drops down off the hogback and turns toward Tin Cup Park. I turned around when the trail headed for the park.

At this point, you've dropped down about 300 feet from the high point on the ridge. That means there are some steep spots on the hike back. But as you walk back, once again enjoy the spots with trees, enjoy the view in the open areas and marvel at how few people know about this little trail.

There are lots of hikes in this area including Apex Park, Matthews-Winters, the dinosaur tracks on Dakota Ridge and more. Check out this list of more 200 hikes in Colorado for more ideas. Don't miss any of my trip reports, sign up for an email alert at the top of this page and follow me on Facebook.

Details: The hike to end of the trail and back is about 2.5 miles with 500 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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