A typical rider should be able to do this loop in under 2 hours. It makes for a great after work ride if you want something more technical.
Drawbacks: It can get really hot, there are often rattlesnakes, and a lot of features will take a very skilled rider to clean - expect to walk some of the trail.
Note: There are several ways to do this ride. Another popular option is to park at the Stegosaurus Parking near I-70, which puts you at the bottom of Dakota Ridge
trail, and skips Zorro
Watch for hikers on the Red Rocks side. The climb on the North side of Dakota Ridge
is all bentonite clay, if it has rained or snowed it will need time to dry or you'll have a mess on your hands.
Start in the Alameda parking lot for the Zorro
trail or Green Mountain. Warm up on the Zorro
trail climb, try the stairs at the top, they are a prelude to the waterbars up ahead.
Head South (Left) at the intersection of Zorro
and Dakota Ridge
Get ready for a difficult, steep, technical climb with off-camber rocks, big moves over water bars, all with your heart jumping out of your chest. Then as the trail heads downhill, you'll be negotiating 2 foot drops while you try to take in the sharp drop off on both sides of the view. When you hit the road, keep heading south (right)(uphill) the trail picks up again on the left just before the top. After a short climb, be ready for a fast descent.
Watch for traffic, cross the road to the right and head into Red Rocks. The trail picks up again on your right, about 1/4 mile up the road after you enter the park. The Red Rocks trail is much different from Dakota Ridge
. You'll find yourself climbing steadily on smooth dirt. This trail is often full of hikers, so watch for them, but you won't be moving very quickly as the climb gets fairly steep in places.
As you near the top of the climb, you'll start seeing giant Red Rock formations the park is named for. The scenery is pretty epic as you climb, and it will help you forget about the hot, dry conditions as you work hard.
Eventually you'll top out with a choice to make. Take a right to follow this ride and slice through the middle of a rock formation, climbing steeply up a short section of rock. Otherwise, take a left for the Morrison Slide trail if you want a harder alternate way back.
Once you reach the top, there's a viewpoint on the rocks you can walk out to. Otherwise, head left to follow the trail back down. It's mostly downhill or flat from here and very fun. There are some small rocks along the way down that keep it interesting, so stay alert. There's also a fairly significant stream crossing (rideable).
When you reach a junction with the Village Walk trail, stay right. Left is a hiking-only trail, and right is a bike only trail. You can fly the rest of the way down the short singletrack section without worry of encountering hikers here.
Then you'll cross the road again and finish climbing up the part of the Dakota Ridge
trail you didn't ride yet. Grab a little more technical on the very steep rocky climb, then take a left to head back down Zorro