Back in the Saddle Again — Not really. We Just Went Hiking — Matthew-Winters-Red Rocks Trails

* The title is much better if you sing it with Gene Autry in your head. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSqcxFGFVas

Nine years after we moved to Seattle, we have toddler twins, and we’ve moved back home to Colorado. We’re not quite as adventurous as we once were.  We used to mountain bike quite a bit here in CO, but we haven’t found our legs here yet. We opted to try hiking with the kids (in backpack carriers). We’ve done some hiking. Not a lot. But I didn’t want to be that parent that bought the cool kid carrier, and never actually use it. That’s what our 8 bikes in the garage are for – to look cool; an homage to times past.

So we went hiking Memorial weekend.  We’ve done the Red Rocks stairs a few times with the kids on our backs, but that’s a bit boring, for the kids and me (great workout though! Feel the burn, babies). So we opted to try the Red Rocks hiking trail, which crosses with the Matthew/Winters trail.  As youngsters in our 20s, my husband and I knew these trails for mountain biking.  Hikers were that small annoyance that got in our way. We were both a bit wary of this, but we did read that it’s a good trail to hike on with kids.

When we got to the trailhead, the parking lot was packed. We were nervous, but my husband noted the lack of bike racks on cars and the number of families walking to the trailhead. We continued forth. It was beautiful weather, as we unloaded, slathered on the sunscreen, packed our numerous provisions, and loaded up the kids in the carriers.

It should be noted that my babies are not the easiest in the car or on long excursions where they are strapped into something (e.g. a backpack). This is a very bold move for us, and also why we’ve put it off this long. This is a big outing. We are quite proud of ourselves, and the babies, for making it even this far. It was a 20-minute car ride after all.

Following along the foothills, up and down the hills with little gulches with water and thousands of gorgeous flowers in bloom. We saw numerous butterflies, one caterpillar, various birds, and of course airplanes and helicopters were a favorite for the kids. The hike is relatively exposed to the elements, but the small gulches did provide breaks and cool shade. We stopped before the switchbacks started climbing up (and where a second creek crosses the trail).  Numerous families were continuing on though, but we were backing into naptime and that can be worse than Colorado’s infamous thunderstorms.

On the way back the kids needed a break from the carriers and we stopped at the little bridge crossing a small creek (this is actually the first creek that you cross when you start the hike). It has gentle access for kids to go down to the creek, throw rocks and leaves in the water and watch them flow over the mini waterfall (the kids loved that), and cool off dusty feet. There were also 4-5 picnic tables by the water with lots of shade, and a couple trash cans, which was great should someone soil their diaper. It wasn’t me.

We didn’t bring our dog, Charli.  Now that we have kids we like to scout out places first before we decide if we can handle a third toddler on the excursion.  But we did see numerous dogs on the trail (all on leashes. Good people).  If you are dog people, remember that there are only the two water sources. The distance in total (which we didn’t do) is about 3-4 miles. Some notable ascents, and thus descents, if you do the whole out and back hike. Take note of the signs that state “Bikers only” and “No Bikes” – Stick to the “No Bikes” trails, though hikers and bikers do share much of the trail, so heads-up. There were also a couple jogging-style strollers on the trail.  There are a few bumps, but it seemed manageable.

I’m not one for calculating the 0.8 to this marker or 1.4 to that rock, but if you’re interested in more information, here are a few links to help you out.

http://www.localhikes.com/hikes/MWPMorrisonSlide_2082.asp

http://jeffco.us/openspace/openspace_T56_R1.htm

http://www.thecohiker.com/colorado-hiking-trails/colorado-front-range/matthews-winters-park

Adrienne Yoshihara is a mystified SAHM, teacher on a break, wife, and loves her dog to the moon and back. She is always looking for activities to do with (and without) her fantastic toddlers.