Looking down from atop Red Rocks Trail
On the outskirts of a frenzied metropolis rests a Mecca for trail runners, mountain bikers, and equestrian aficionados alike. The Matthews/Winters Park encompasses the elements of a first-rate adventure in Denver’s backyard. This venture through the trail park marked my first mountain biking experience on the Front Range.
An easy westward jaunt down I-70 to the Morrison/Golden area catapulted me into a world were the land of ancient time jut out of the grassy hills and canyons. Colorado archetypical vibrant red earth swathe 8.5 miles of trails which typically hug several ridge lines. This trail layout offers breathtaking views of the Mount Vernon Canyon region while presenting grave consequences to those lacking in the “balance department.” Numerous sections of trail scattered with natural obstacles of boulders, sharp loose shale, and thick roots, test the metal of even the most seasoned rider.
The Dakota Ridge Trail offers some of the steepest terrain in the park and runs for a short 2.2 miles. The trail presents little to no warm up as it begins with a fast, steep, and technical descent from the start. For those who value there physical well being, your breaks will be burning towards the end. The rider who is more in touch with their spiritual self will feel at home with putting the hammer down, careening past 65 million year old dinosaur tracks and letting fate take its course. I for one rolled the dice and found myself flying with angels. This section of terrain will invoke some of the most primitive instincts granting ancient foresight through each turn and drop.
Upon exiting the Dakota Ridge area I found myself having to cross County Highway 93, which splits the park into two sections. From the highway I continued onto the park’s longest stretch of trail, the Red Rocks Trail, running a total 2.8 miles. Although this section of the ride can be made to last a bit longer by opting to the 1.2 mile Morrison Slide Trail that breaks from the trail to only bring you back to the Red Rocks Trail.
After crossing a second stretch of road that leads to the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, I found an endless line of cars on their way to the Journey concert. A shout from an Escalade limo offered me a brew and admittance to the concert. I accepted and was instructed to load my bike into the limo. Fearing that I would damage the expensive vehicle I was reassured with, “who cares, it’s a rental,” from the generous party. I entered the posh means of transportation and took the opportunity to I ask the limo riding Journey fans their opinion of the Matthews/Winters Park. Although they wished to remain anonymous, (they were supposed to be burning the midnight oil instead of taking in a soft rock concert) one member of the party crew informed me that, “I ride up here all the time, it’s a great place with awesome views to boot.”
My abrupt VIP moment ended as we approached the gate and was turned away for my lack of having an official ticket of my own. I finished my complementary Coors Light and took my exit to conclude my own taste of the Rockies. Narrowly dodging the bullet of attending a Journey concert, I continued my trek up the Red Rocks Trail.
The rest of the ride offered a fine compilation of climbs and downhill sections, alleviating the burn. A well maintained trail with little issues overcoming obstacles; the Red Rocks Trail is a perfect manner of summing up the ride with more divine views through tall grass and towering crimson rocks.
Originally a passage to the gold fields of Central city; the Mount Vernon Canyon region is the gracious mother to the first-rate Matthews/Winters Park.