Mt. Morrison

If you’re looking for a short and challenging hike close to Denver, Mt. Morrison may be for you. Mt. Morrison offers unique perspectives on Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Denver, and the higher mountains to the west. The hike is only about 1.8 miles up, but the vertical gain nears 2,000ft as well (very steep!) There is almost no shade, so bring lots of water and start early if you are hiking in the summertime. Mt. Morrison will also be far less crowded compared to the many other trails within Red Rocks Park.

If you are training to climb 14ers or getting in shape for trail running, Mt. Morrison is a quality option closer to town. With its lower elevation, Mt. Morrison is an option year-round (obviously, it will have snow and ice at times still). Last summer, I went to Mt. Morrison to hike some hill repeats as part of training for the Never Summer 100k race. It is a fun climb, but the fun erodes slightly each time one turns around to hike up again. Then again, hill repeats are obviously done for training rather than pure enjoyment. Personally, I much rather do hill repeats at Mt. Morrison than at the far more popular Manitou Incline.

On final note before jumping into some pictures…the final approach to the top of Mt. Morrison has a brief section which requires some light scrambling. The level of exposure is low and this section lasts less than a quarter of a mile, but I figured I’d mention it anyway.

There is limited parking in front of Red Rocks Gate #4, but you will find a few additional pull-off on the side of the road when the gate is open. I believe the gate is generally closed during the summer, but I’m honestly not sure. It was open yesterday (Feb. 13th, 2017).
The route up is very steep and follows the path of the power lines initially. The surrounding area is a scenic enough to distract you from the power lines though.
A look down from near the top of Mt. Morrison
Summit shot with my Mile High Trail Runners hat.
Abundant sunshine over Red Rocks
A zoomed-in look Red Rocks


Here are some GPS tracks from my 3rd repeat during training last June: