Round Trip Distance: 4.4 miles
MTB skill level:
Elevation: 6130 - 6635 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Dinosaur Ridge/Stegosaurus
Attractions: Scenic ridge
The Dakota Ridge trail is located in North Dinosaur Park near Morrison, Colorado. The trail follows a hogback ridgeline that separates the Green Mountain area to the east from the Morrison/Red Rocks area to the west. Hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners can be seen sharing the trail on any given day.
There are a lot of options for trailheads to start out at. This post is going to describe the trail beginning on the west side of the ridge from the Stegosaurus trailhead. If this parking lot is full you could park across Highway 93 at the Matthews/Winters Park trailhead. Another option would be to park at the William Fredrick Hayden Park trailhead along Rooney Road and use the Zorro trail to reach Dakota Ridge. A couple of other options are to park at one of the trailheads on W. Alameda Pkwy and connect to Dakota Ridge via the Dinosaur Ridge trail.
Beginning from the Stegosaurus trailhead a long uphill climb greets trail users. Trail runners and mountain bikers will be feeling the burn before reaching the ridge.
For the last several tenths of a mile before reaching the crest of the ridge the climb is mitigated by several switchbacks.
As the trail continues it levels off a bit but the climbing never does cease all together. Even the crest of the long ridge is one continual undulating ribbon of changing elevations.
For those that are in no particular hurry there are plenty of places to stop for a break, enjoy a trail snack and take in the views.
The trail gets very rocky in places and it can take advanced mountain biking skills to stay on your bike. If your skill level isn't all that advanced you can alway get off a walk the bad spots.
A little before reaching the halfway point the Zorro trail reaches Dakota Ridge at a saddle after having climbed up the east side of the mountain.
As the trail climbs out of the saddle after passing the Zorro trail there are sections where logs have been used to smooth out the path and to help control erosion.
The trail continues along the ridge in similar fashion with some good views of the Red Rocks area off the west side of the trail.
As the route begins descending towards Dinosaur Ridge you can look off to the south and see the hogback trailing off in the distance.
Once you reach the Dinosaur Ridge trail you can follow it to the top of the hill and pick up another segment of the Dakota Ridge trail if you would like to extend your outing. The pictures for this post were taken in early spring before the grass had greened up and the bushes had leafed out and the trail was still a scenic beauty. We will be sure to visit again when spring has sprung and before fall has fell so that we can capture the trail in all its summer glory. If you are looking for a good trail for your next hike, run or bike ride the Dakota Ridge trail is a good option that shouldn't disappoint. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.