Matthews/Winters Park and the adjacent Hogback provide a haven for wildlife viewing and hiking. This is also a popular mountain biking destination. Please be aware that parking is limited particularly during the late afternoon/early evening hours and weekends.
The hogback dramatically separates the mountains and the plains with it's twisted folds of geologic history. On the eastern face of the Hogback dinosaur imprints are interpreted by the Dinosaur Ridge Visitor Center. Trail connections through Denver's Red Rocks Park extend the park south to Bear Creek Canyon.
Dakota Ridge is a technical ride for advanced riders only. Most others will either fall a lot, or walk a lot, which doesn't make for enjoyable biking. When connecting Dakota and M/W, you have to cross the road twice - watch for cars.
You can also connect this park system with Green Mountain OSP to the east by parking in the shared lot on the east side of Dakota Ridge and riding Zorro. You can make a monster day out of it by combining the two parks.
You can also add mileage/gain/difficulty by adding Tin Cup Ridge to the north.
Trail DescriptionFrom JCOS:
Village Walk Steps at Parking area 0.9 mi +197'/ -210' Mt. Vernon historical town site, picnic area, view of hogback & Red Rocks. Future this will become the new bike only trail, complete with a bridge across the creek.
Red Rocks Trail junction w/ Village Walk 2.8 mi +515' / -918' Exposure to elements, view of Red Rocks.
Morrison Slide Trail junction w/ Red Rocks 1.2 mi +584' / -542' Trail with numerous switchbacks, nice city view from plateau.
Dakota Ridge Trail beginning at CO Hwy. 26 2.2 mi +118'/-939' Narrow and sometimes steep trail, follows the hogback ridgeline with spectacular views.
This doesn't include a few trails - Zorro, which descends from the saddle on the north side of Dakota down to the west parking lot for Green Mountain, a city of Lakewood OSP. There is also another connector trail from Red Rocks to Village Walk.
Please note that JCOS is in the process of redesignatig the Village Walk (soon to be Village Bike) trail as biker only, and they plan on changing the lower (northern) Red Rocks Trail to be hiker only. Their plan is for this to happen during summer of '08.
EDIT: This is complete, and enjoyable - nice to keep the masses segregated on this busy, busy trail section.
Getting ThereI-70 west to the Morrison exit, head south (mountains on your right). The parking lot on your left (east) puts you at the base of Dakota Ridge. The parking lot on the right (west) puts you at the TH for M/W. You can also go south from I-70, up and over Dakota Ridge, which takes you back north - turn north at the intersection with Rooney Road, head north to the shared parking lot on the right (east side) of the road.
When to BikeThese trails can be brutally hot mid-morning to late afternoon during the summer. M/W holds mud and snow q bit after storms. Dakota dries out quickly because it is mostly sandstone and sand, although there are a few spots that hold snow/mud.
Also, the weekend warriors are out in full force during typical weekend hours (9-5ish) and evening warriors during the week (4-7ish). Crowds can be avoided by riding around these hours. Also, Dakota gets much less traffic than M/W due to the technical difficulty. Green Mountain, as an alternate, is a huge amount of trail, so even if the lots are full, the park is so big that traffic is light. JCOS Website: