Why we love it: It's Red Rocks. Need we say more?
When to go: There's not much shade, so it's not a good choice for mid-day hiking. Try late afternoon, when the sun makes shadows on the mountains and the deer come out.
This hike isn't a backcountry experience—you can see Highway 26, houses, and power lines—but it's very pretty nonetheless, and a fantastic workout. Follow the Village Walk trailhead until it intersects with Red Rocks Trail and go right. The path winds through a series of moderately steep, small hills, through thickets and brush piles. Half a mile in, you'll see the first of many red rock formations: a large, round boulder that begs to be climbed for a photo opp.
The wide gravel path is useful as this park gets busy, especially on weekends. About a mile in, you'll cross another stream, then begin another uphill climb on crushed red sandstone. Stay to the left on Red Rocks Trail, or take a detour on the Morrison Slide Trail (it's slightly steeper and less traveled, but I like the views from the east side). The next half mile is a steady uphill climb on technical terrain.
One and a half miles in, you'll crest the hill. Time to make some decisions: scramble down the rocks and continue another 1.2 miles til the end of Red Rocks Trail, or turn back. Warning: if you descend this hill, you have to come back up—and it's no joke.
Getting there: Take West Sixth Avenue to I-70 West. Take exit 259 toward Morrison. At the bottom of the ramp, turn left on CO-26 East. You'll see Matthews/Winters Open Space Park on the right, just on the other side of the overpass.
Tip: Drive into downtown Morrison after the hike to refuel. You'll have several family-owned establishments to choose from.