Best Colorado hikes: Historic hiking on Old Kiln Trail and Riggs Hill Hike in Grand Junction
These trails make for the ideal Colorado hiking trips
Grand Junction Free Press
Riggs Hill hike
Nestled in the middle of Grand Junction’s Redlands community is Riggs Hill — a historical hike, featuring dinosaur bones and vast views making this one of the best Colorado hikes.
This trail a great beginner hiking trail making it perfect for all abilities and ages, and also ideal for those hiking with dogs. This trail ranges from one to three miles, depending on which loop is chosen.
The trail is located just off the intersection of South Broadway and South Camp Road. If coming from South Broadway, head west; the trailhead is less than a quarter-mile west on the right from South Camp Road.
The trail begins at a display sign, which describes the history and geology of the area. There is also a box, which holds a map and more information.
Riggs Hill can be done clockwise or counter-clockwise.
If taken counter-clockwise, the trail starts with a steep, rocky, short climb. Then it leads to a saddle between two large hills. A freshly-painted bench is available for rest and to take in the views of the Colorado National Monument or the Grand Valley.
Venture up the rocky slope, which leads north, and take in the views from the very top. It’s the perfect place to explore and see wildlife like snakes, lizards and birds that frequently sunbathe on the rocks.
If opting not to climb up a bit more, the trail leads from the saddle around the bottom of a hill.
The trail eventually skirts along South Broadway.
Numbered poles are located along the path. These can be used by hikers to learn more information about the area along with the pamphlet picked up at the start of the trail.
The hike for the interpretive trail totals around three-quarters of a mile. If you venture to the top, it will total about a mile.
According to the Museum of Western Colorado’s website, Riggs Hill was originally used in the 1900s by Elmer Riggs, a paleontologist at Chicago’s Field Columbian Museum, who came to Colorado’s Grand Valley to collect dinosaur bones. He and his crew discovered a Brachiosaurus altithorax (deep-chest arm-lizard), named because the creature’s front legs appeared to be much longer than its back legs; and the ribs were nearly 9 feet long.
The quarry, the site of the dinosaur discovery, is marked with a stone monument, and the hill was named after Riggs.
In 1937 on the northwest slope of the hill, the Museum of Western Colorado noted that Edward Holt discovered partial skeletons of Allosaurus and Stegosaurus dinosaurs. He allegedly left the bones in the area to become a natural research center, but the bones and other scientific information was lost due to vandalism.
Today, a cast of a bone can be seen along the north side of the hill near Riggs’ monument.
For more information about the history of the area, visit http://www.museumof westernco.com.
Old Kiln Trail
Take a trip up Little Park Road and venture to Old Kiln Trail. It’s kid- and dog-friendly helping this trail rank as another one of the best Colorado hikes.
This Colorado hiking trail is located on Bureau of Land Management land, so be sure to pick up after your pets and pack out trash.
“We’d consider it an easy hike with very little elevation gain or loss,” said Chris Joyner, spokesperson for BLM.
To get to the trailhead from Broadway in the Redlands, take Monument Road to D Road. D Road will force-turn onto Little Park Road. Follow the road for about 7 miles. You will pass the Bangs Canyon staging area on the left. Venture about a quarter-mile more, and the Old Kiln Trailhead will be on the right; it offers a small parking lot.
Head through the fence and follow the path to the left, which looks like old doubletrack. After about another quarter-mile, there is a slight path that heads down a small gully and up another small hill. You should be able to see the kiln on the edge of the hill.
If you venture over to the kiln, please respect the area.
Be sure to snap a photo of the kiln and the views of the Grand Valley floor.
After exploring the kiln area, head back to the trailhead or continue on down the singletrack another quarter-mile or so. It eventually turns into a singletrack path that ventures down a large gully. There the trail seems to disappear, so it’s a natural place to turn around and head back.
It was about a mile round-trip, and it wasn’t extremely strenuous. Bring a camera, bottle of water and a smile.
Originally published in the August 3, 2015, issue of the Summit Daily and regularly vetted for accuracy.
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