Round Trip Distance: 5.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
Elevation: 4550-4872 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Usage: Hiking - Dogs - Equestrian
Time: 2 hrs. 30 mins.
Facilities: Restroom at Dinosaur Hill trailhead
Trailhead: Kodels Canyon
View Kodels K1-K8 in a larger map
The Kodels Canyon trail system has 12 marked trails that are designated K1 through K12. The K1 trail provides access to the very scenic Kodels Canyon on the Colorado National Monument and the Fruita Dugway trail. This post describes hiking the full length of the K1 trail to its western termination at Devils Canyon and then picking up the K8 trail for the return route, making use of the K7 trail to link back up with the K1 and returning to the Kodels Canyon trailhead.
The Kodels Canyon trailhead is a primitive parking area in the bar ditch across Highway 340 from Dinosaur Hill. It is also possible to park at the Devils Canyon trailhead, where there are restrooms and plenty of parking. There are usually some nice maps of the Kodels and Devils Canyons trail system at the Devils Canyon trailhead. The map is pretty handy for this hike with all of its crisscrossing trails.
The trail looks a little unappealing from the trailhead but once you get up the side of the hill it greatly improves. It is pretty easy to find your way by following all the markers for the K1 trail as it drops over the hill and up a dry wash toward the mouth of Kodels Canyon. In a little less than a mile the K1 trail forks off to the right and begins heading west behind a large ridge of sandstone.
The trail remains secluded behind the wall of sandstone for just over a half mile. This stretch of the hike provides a good chance for a workout as the trail climbs up and over several ridges. The climbs are a little steep but they are short enough not to be really strenuous.
After hiking for just over a mile and a half the trail begins turning more to the north towards the Devils Canyon trails. The eroded sandstone cliffs provide many pleasing shapes and contours to enjoy while hiking through this area. The Entrada sandstone geology, with its bands of rosy red and white layers, never seem to disappoint.
The K1 trail ends where it meets the D2, which will lead to the D3 and then the D1 that can be followed to the junction of the D1 and K8 trails about 2.5 miles into the hike. From this point the K8 trail crosses a wash and begins climbing toward the southeast.
The K8 trail follows along the top of the ridge above the K1 trail. The high point of the hike, at about 4872 feet, is on the K8 trail around 3 1/4 miles into the hike. From this point the K8 trail descends down some slick rock heading mostly northeast.
Just like the other trails in the Kodels group it is easy to follow the K8 trail by paying attention to the trail markers.
The K8 trail meets up with the beginning of the K7 trail near an old trailhead that is now on private property. From this point begin following the K7 trail as it heads southeast.
The K7 trail heads toward the mouth of Kodels Canyon where it meets up with the K1 trail where you can retrace your steps back to the trailhead. There are several places during this hike where you can cut it short by taking other trails like the K2 and K4. Until you are familiar with the area it is probably a good idea to have a map that shows how all the various trails interconnect.
The Kodels Canyon trail system is a great place to go for a hike. It never seems to get very crowded. That may be because of the myriad of different trails and the vastness of the area. There are opportunities to see deer, coyotes, mountain lion, hawks and bighorn sheep depending on where you hike and the time of the year and day. If you like trail running, which I do when I'm not busy taking pictures, then you can find a lot of trails to satisfy you. The trails are also very kid friendly with the right preparation. If you would like to check them out for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.