Your Next Hike – Grand Junction’s ‘Old Kiln Trail’
Snow is on the way. Grand Junction can expect snow this Thursday and Friday. I believe you'll find many popular Western Colorado hiking trails are considerably more fun in winter weather. One such hike would be the Old Kiln Trail.
Not that it's a dud in the warmer months, but it's much more fun and photogenic with snow on the ground. This trail has gone mostly unnoticed over the years. If you're looking to get outdoors this Christmas season, this is the perfect hike.
The Old Kiln Trail is a simple hike with very little in the way of technical challenges. It's nearby, doesn't require a parks pass, and is accessible to just about anyone. What makes it so great? The motivation to hike this particular trail would be its namesake.
Hiking the Old Kiln Trail in summer is fun, but it's pretty much a single-track dirt trail which ultimately connects with the Ribbon Trail. Aside from visiting the actual kiln, the trail really doesn't offer much of a true hiking experience. To reach it you would have to drive past a dozen trails, any one of which is more exciting than this one.
Okay, so why should you go out of your way for this hike? Why is it better in the winter and spring? Well, first of all, you have to find the old kiln. A trail exists, but it won't necessarily lead you directly to the kiln. You'll have to follow the instructions below, and keep a sharp eye out. You'll have to be a bit of an explorer to locate the payoff.
The photo at top was taken a couple of years ago. There wasn't a single fresh footprint anywhere, and not a single tire track at the parking area. No one had touched this trail in days.
How do you find it? Head up Little Park Road as if you're going to Glade Park. You'll find the trailhead on the right, just a few hundred feet West of the parking area for the Mica Mines.
Walk through the opening in the fence. Head west for roughly 1,000 feet. After that distance, a trail will take off to the north. It is difficult, almost impossible to spot. You'll have to keep an eye open at all times.
Do you see it? The photo below faces north from the main trail. The kiln is there, staring back at you. It's always hard to find. That's part of the appeal of this hike.
To hike to the kiln and back barely totals a half mile. While that might not seem like much in the warmer months, a half-mile hike when you're knee deep in snow is more than plenty.
Where my last visit was concerned, finding the kiln was even more difficult. No one had touched this trail since the last snow. That's right, not a single soul in over 48 hours. You can see old footprints in the snow, but nothing fresh. Do you see the kiln now?
Finding the kiln is well worth the effort. Considering how short the hike is, very little effort is required. The site is close, convenient, and for the most part, a well-kept secret.
The kiln itself, while always awesome, is particularly fascinating in the winter months. The snow compliments the structure, making it even more worthy of photos. Before the snowy season ends, make a point to visit this landmark.