Dakota Ridge Hike

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Moderate
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
2.5-3.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
8.7 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
335 m
User Ratings
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Directions to Trailhead

The Dakota Ridge Hike is a wonderfully scenic and stimulating adventure near Denver, Colorado. Perfect for introductory hikers and older children, this technical excursion reveals epic views of Denver, the Red Rocks Park, and the Front Range Foothills. As you trek along the ridge, keep an eye out for dinosaur tracks and fossils etched into the rock.

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Route Description for Dakota Ridge Hike

The Dakota Ridge Hike is a stimulating adventure along the Dakota Hogback Ridge that exposes expansive views and boasts intriguing sights of palaeontological fossils! Though short, this excursion packs elevation gain and rugged terrain, so we recommend wearing sturdy footwear and packing plenty of water. Using our discretion, we also discourage younger children from this hike, as the rocky terrain can be tricky in some areas. If you have younger kids, consider the Dinosaur Ridge Hike! Rattlesnakes and harmless bull snakes are abundant in the area. Keep an eye and ear out as you travel the trails! Note that after rainfall, the rocky, uneven terrain can be a bit slippery, so be extra cautious and take your time. Also, keep in mind that the Dakota Ridge Trail is subject to seasonal closure—be sure to check the bulletin at the trailhead for updates and restrictions.

Pleasing outdoor adventure enthusiasts and history buffs alike, the Dakota Ridge Trail is a popular adventure near the city, so don’t be surprised if you must share the path with others! This excursion is a wonderful option for those who are seeking a longer hike than the Dinosaur Ridge Hike but wish to maintain in the same area! As you hike along the craggy ridge, you will be rewarded with wonderful views of the Denver skyline, the plains, and the Front Range Foothills. From the end of the trail, you will be granted expansive vistas of the Red Rocks Park, including the famous amphitheater! Whether you are just starting out, or you are an experienced adventurer, the Dakota Ridge Trail is a scenic hike that will impress all!

Embark on your adventure along Dakota Ridge from the Trailhead off Hogback Road. Climbing steeply from the trailhead, head northeast along the Dakota Ridge Trail. Ascend the vertiginous path to the top of the ridge and the trail will divert south. Now a single-track path, hike along the rocky ridge dotted with the odd pine tree. Enjoy views of the red sandstone formations below as you hike the path. As you travel along the ridge, be mindful of snakes and mind your footing on the uneven terrain. Let the stunning views of the Denver cityscape motivate you as you trek.

Eventually, the trail will begin to gradually descend in the Dinosaur Ridge Area. This section of the trail may be busier as many families trek up to see the fossil etched in the sandstone. Keep an eye out for dino tracks and take a moment to explore the famous cliffside, where visitors can visibly see the bones of the Jurassic-age dinosaurs. As you adventure past the dinosaur exhibits, the route will curve north before diverting south and guiding you into the South Dinosaur Ridge Open Space. Maintain along the Dakota Ridge Trail, noticing sights of Mount Morrison and the Red Rocks Park in the southwest.
Soon, you will come to the trail’s end where the Dakota Ridge Trail loops around, guiding you back along the path you just hiked. From the turnaround point, you will be granted expansive views of various Colorado landscapes-the plains, the city, the red rocks, and Front Range peaks. Enjoy the vistas, and if you are craving a longer adventure, continue along the Dakota Ridge South Trail all the way to the ridge’s end. If you are ready to return, simply retrace your steps along the route all the way back to the trailhead.

Trail Highlights

Dakota Hogback

The Dakota Hogback is a rocky sandstone ridge on the border of the Front Range Foothills and the city of Denver. Straddling the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains the ridge extends all the way from Wyoming and down to New Mexico. Formed millions of years ago during the Laramide Orogeny, a period of mountain formation in western North America, the Dakota Hogback is now a popular tourist destination. Protruding from the level terrain, the impressive and unassumingly beautiful ridge is home to fossils. Within the sandstone, there have been dozens of dinosaur tracks, bones, and fossils discovered. As you hike along the ridge keep an eye out for these palaeontological artifacts.

Insider Hints for Dakota Ridge Hike

  • Keep an eye out for fossils, footprints, and dinosaur bones that are reminiscent of the Jurassic period
  • Be mindful of rattlesnakes, they are abundant in the area and love to sunbathe on the warm sandstone rocks
  • There is no tree shade, so wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water on warm days
  • The terrain is rugged in places—wear sturdy footwear to avoid a rolled ankle

Getting to the Dakota Ridge Hike Trailhead

The Dakota Ridge Trail departs from the parking lot and trailhead off Hogback Road.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    No

  • When to do

    Year-round

  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage

    Good

  • Crowd Levels

    High

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Dakota Ridge Hike Elevation Graph

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