This day’s adventure actually started off with wanting to locate an open space park we had gone to years ago while visiting Denver. At that time, we had gone with a guide service to try out snowshoeing for the first time. Since we didn’t know the area very well back then and transportation was provided by the guide, we’re not entirely sure where we were. In our minds, we recall an open space park west of, but not too far from Golden. We’re pretty sure we got to it from I-70, not too far off an exit, and parked in a large lot directly off the road. There was an open field through which we crossed and continued on the trail into the woods, heading higher up the hillside. We’ll just have to keep looking until we find it!
On our search, we ended up at Genesee Mountain and Genesee Park and drove aimlessly around, looking for anything familiar, but also stopping to get out and admire the views and take in the crisp fresh air. Knowing this wasn’t the place, and not having specifically researched any of its hiking trails (also, signs and trailmarkers were not readily apparent to us), we didn’t spend all that much time here and then moved on.
We also made a quick round past Elk Meadow park, and although this one looks lovely as well, it was not the one we were searching for, so on we went.
In the end, we reached Matthews / Winters Park. By then we were ready to get a hike in regardless of whether we could find our intended target or not. So we quickly checked out the trail map and decided to go down the path as far as we felt like. In the end we’d hiked 3.9 miles, starting from the parking lot on the Village Walk, continuing onto the Red Rocks trail, taking the split up to the Morrison Slide Trail which switchbacks to the top of the ridge with gorgeous views (you can also continue on the Red Rocks trail and circle back via the Morrison Slide, but we recommend going the same direction we did, as you complete the harder section first and then have a leisurely return). At the end of the Morrison Slide, the trail descends via another series of switchbacks, at which point you have an amazing view of the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater. Here the trail reconnects with the Red Rocks trail which we took to circle back to our parking lot.
If your starting point is the Red Rocks Park, you can definitely also complete the Red Rocks / Morrison Slide trail loop from this end.
Who: Ideal for a wide range of fitness levels and age groups. We saw folks out with their kids and their dogs, ranging from those strolling leisurely along to those running down the trail and cranking up the switchbacks (way to go!). We saw several folks with crash pads so bouldering opportunities exist for rock climbers.
What: One of the many Jefferson County Open Space parks, no entrance fee, and there appears to be plenty of parking.
Where: 1103 County Road 93, Golden, CO 80401. Just south of I-70 and Hwy 40 on Hwy 93.
When: Of course it’s nicest when the sun is shining and the weather is mild, but still doable as long as the trail isn’t too snowy or icy which could potentially make some areas such as the switchbacks tricky and something to avoid. We did notice that some parts of the trail where there is probably periodic snow-melt or near the creek crossings were muddy, so that is something to consider.
Why: Great opportunity to stretch your legs, get a little exercise, and enjoy gorgeous views.
How: Grab your hiking boots or tennis shoes and hit the trail! There are some informative signs with park maps at the trailhead. Choose your route and do as much or as little as you like before turning back. Some trails also allow mountain biking or horseback riding.