Dakota Ridge

By Chris
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Dakota Ridge is part of the hogback that runs along C-470. I’ve heard it’s part of the Matthews/Winters Open Space Park, and I’ve heard it’s part of the Dinosaur Open Space Park. Google Earth, with the Parks utility turned on, shows it as “North Dinosaur Open Space Park”. Whichever it is, it sits right across the road from Matthews/Winters and can be ridden from the same traihead.

Dakota has a bit of a rep for being brutal. I’d say the rep is pretty well deserved, although there are certainly more difficult trails around. I’ve seen a lot of blood and skin shed on this trail. That little voice in your head? Usually it’s your guardian angel telling you not to do something — on Dakota it’s more than likely your collarbone asking, “Are you sure about this?”

From the Matthews/Winters parking lot, head across the road and up the obnoxious looking climb. It doesn’t just look obnoxious, it is. Keep going until some singletrack swings south and follows the terrain just shy of the ridge line. If it’s a hot day, take comfort in the fact that you will get some tree cover for shade, but not if you sit there staring up the hill.

After the initial climb, it gets a bit easier, and you’ll loop through and around various obstacles. The meat of the run doesn’t come until you descend into the saddle of the ridge.

As you start the descent, remember that it’s just your nerves. All of the drops are rideable, but if you are white knuckling it, go ahead and walk. Towards the bottom, try to get up a head of steam for the climb out of the saddle. If it’s your first time riding up and out of the saddle, here’s what your thought process will be:

“No problem…”

“Oooof, ah got it…”

“OMG, aaaargh, yeah baby!”

“Aaaah, shade.”

“Ack, OK OK OK.”

“You gotta be kidding me…”

As ridiculous as the waterbars seem, I’ve actually seen someone clean them all. I’ve never done it, see how far up you can go :-)
Once past the waterbars, it gets rocky. Watch your lines and you won’t have any trouble. Be prepared for some exposure on the right as you start to downhill again. Watch your speed here, there’s not a lot of room to manuever when you come across someone coming the other direction.

You’ll continue along the ridge and then drop down on the eastern side of it. Here you cross the road (or take it back if you’ve had enough) and hit the singletrack going up. It’s a little climb with some nifty moves at the top. You will then switchback down to a long singletrack downhill. You can really boogie down this one. Watch for oncoming traffic, and be aware that you’ll need to scrub speed as you hit the road.

Cross the road (carefully) and head down the Red Rocks entrance road. You’ll hang a right when you come to the “Red Rocks Trail”. Keep following it back to the lot. Hook it up with the Morrison Slide Trail if you haven’t had enough.

Get the Google Earth .kml file here.

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