Round Trip Distance: 2 miles
Elevation: 5304 - 5342 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Brenden Theatre/Centennial Park
Attractions: Paved interpretive trail
View Rifle Creek in a larger map
The Rifle Creek trail is located in the town of Rifle, Colorado. The trail is listed on a brochure from the Rifle Chamber of Commerce that is available at the Visitor Center near Interstate 70. The map in the brochure shows the south end of the trail beginning near the Brenden Theatre, off of East 2nd Street, and ending near the Wamsley Elementary School, about 2 miles to the north. For this post we began at the theatre parking area and turned around at the north end of Centennial Park where that segment of the trail appeared to end.
The trail runs behind the theatre to 3rd St. where it crosses the bridge over Rifle Creek. Rifle Creek runs through the heart of the town from north to south before feeding into the Colorado River.
On the west side of the bridge the trail appears to have a more official beginning.
The great thing about beginning at this point is that the story of the Rifle area begins here and continues like a walk through time until you reach the north end of Centennial Park.
The brochure mentions that the Rifle Creek trail connects Rifle's 3 main parks. Here the trail enters Centennial Park.
Centennial Park has an assortment of amenities, like picnic areas, and accoutrements, like this large sundial that dominates a central area of the park.
The lessons in history take a variety of forms making them not only informational but very enjoyable.
The numerous bridges with their plaques perpetuate the parks theme by carrying visitors through the decades of time as they progress from one period to the next.
Mining has been a regular occurrence since the Europeans first arrived on the scene. Early settlers sought coal to heat their homes. Later uranium mining became an important industry. Both of those have pretty much ceased in the Rifle area. The one type of mining that never seems to totally go away though is oil shale. Boom and bust cycles have ebbed and flowed through the years. At one time someone had even staked out a town named 'Oil Shale City' near present day Parachute. (Parachute was named Grand Valley at the time). Oil shale was discovered when someone used it for the chimney of their cabin and it caught fire destroying the cabin. (As kids we would put a piece in the campfire and wait for it to explode sending shrapnels of rock flying everywhere. I never claimed we were smart kids.)
This portion of the Rifle Creek trail comes to an end near the fairgrounds.
It is doubtful that others would begin the Rifle Creek trail by parking near the theatre but it allowed us to include more of the south section of the trail. There are several parking areas around Centennial Park that would serve as better trailheads. Even though Centennial Park lacks restrooms with flush toilets, which is odd considering its location, it is an fun and interesting experience. And maybe at some future date the different segments of the Rifle Creek trail will be more contiguous. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.