One of my favorite “holidays” is Halloween. With COVID, the parties were non-existent and the status of trick-or-treaters was unknown, so I made the most of it with a Halloween hike. I’m thankful my friends Mike and Paula could join me at Matthew/Winters Park. We connected several trails to make a 4.4 mile lollipop loop.
Matthew/Winters is part of the Jefferson County Open Space which spans across the foothills outside of Denver. The Matthew Winters Park is made up of 2,367 acres and twelve miles of trails. There are many entrances to the park, so it is best to have a hiking plan.
I picked a route on AllTrails, and Mike wondered where we would park as it looked as though the only option was street parking. Being a Saturday, who knew how far we would be from the trailhead with street parking. The area is extremely popular!
We settled on meeting at the Matthew/Winters lot. I had hoped our late start at 11:45am would allow the first round of hikers to finish resulting in afternoon parking spaces. Wishful thinking! I still ended up on the street.
Mount Vernon Cemetery
Anyway, once we found each other, we began our hike on Village Walk Trail by the bathroom and small creek. The dirt trail gradually climbs to the Mount Vernon Cemetery. Since we donned Halloween costumes for our hike, we took a slight detour for a picture by one of the two headstones.
The Mount Vernon Cemetery marks the former town of Mount Vernon founded in 1859. The town offered supplies and lodging to gold seekers heading west along the Denver, Auraria, and Colorado Wagon Road. The two gravestones are all that remain.
After our short stop at the cemetery, we connected with Red Rocks Trail that ascended 0.4 miles to Cherry Gulch Trail which stretched another 0.3 miles. With each trail, the incline and rockiness increased. While it got harder, the hike was moderate with the entire elevation gain less than 700 feet. Soon, we reached the flat mesa with views of Denver, the hogbacks and much more.
With the nice views, a little more space, and less crowds, we took the opportunity to snap a few photos. We had to document our costumes. Mike and Paula came as doctors with a COVID microbe. Annie and I dressed as a shark and SCUBA diver. Complementary costumes…I’m officially a psychotic dog mom.
From the Cherry Gulch Trail we descended the Morrison Slide Trail. That’s exactly what it felt like…a slide down a relatively steep descent of steps and switchbacks. We followed the Morrison Slide Trail for 1.5 miles through the Southwestern Terrain until we reached another section of the Red Rocks Trail.
This 0.7 mile section of Red Rocks Trail completes the loop. After a short jaunt up, the trail follows a downward slope until it reconnects with Cherry Gulch Trail. Here we had the option to return the way we came or to take a slightly longer route. 4.4 miles was plenty for me today, so we retraced our steps as planned. We capped off our hike with seeing three deer! I always love seeing wildflife.
The hike along all these trails in Matthew Winters was a nice way to get some exercise. That said, sharing it with crowds of hikers and several mountain bikers on a Saturday certainly slowed us down. I recommend visiting Matthew Winters on the weekday if possible. ETB
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