Mica Mine

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 2.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 6043 - 6226 feet
Cellphone: 0-1 bars
Usage: Hiking - Dogs
Time: 2 hrs.
Facilities: Vault Toilet
Trailhead: Bangs Canyon Staging Area
Fee: none
 

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The Mica Mine trail is located south of Grand Junction, CO in the BLM Bangs Canyon Management Area. The trail is one of the classic hikes in the Grand Junction area that is enjoyed by many adults and children of all ages. Adults enjoy the serenity of the riparian environment of Ladder Canyon and the kids love playing in the shallow waters of Ladder Creek. It's okay to bring your dog but you should keep it on a leash. Due to the confines of the narrow canyon only short stretches of the trail can be seen at any one time and even friendly dogs can be running over toddlers around any bend.


The Mica Mine and Rough Canyon trails share the same starting point as you leave the staging area. The trail passes through the fence that was erected when the area was closed off to OHV use. We were commenting on the vast improvement the Mica Mine trail has undergone since it was limited to hiking. Twenty years ago there were numerous rock strewn side trails with speedy OHV's that would often startle foot travelers in the narrow canyon. I'm not in the least bit against any OHV use. This was just a dangerous place to have it. We still have our world class jeep trails in Billings Canyon and other places.


For the casual hiker the crux of the trail is probably passing through the cut made through the Entrada sandstone cliff a short distance from the beginning. For kids it just adds to the fun that lies ahead but if you are out of shape there are few spots in the cut that will stretch your legs and footing. I'm sure your kids or sweetheart will be glad to give you any needed assistance.


The only fork in the trail is at the bottom of the cut where the trail meets Ladder Creek. Once you take the right fork you have just over a mile of pretty easy going to get to the mine.


The above picture is typical of a lot of the trail. In most places you probably can't see more than a hundred feet in front or behind you. The trail is lined with sagebrush, wild roses, willows, at least 7 varieties of trees and on todays hike more wildflowers than you could shake a stick at.


It seems like the trail crosses the creek at least a dozen times. Some folks choose to hike it the creek bed, in places, rather than on the trail. You get to sharpen your rock hopping skills at fording the stream in several places. Dogs and kids seem to prefer the wetter approach of crossing.


The middle of the canyon opens up a bit and the towering Wingate cliffs provide some beautiful scenery. As you approach nearer to the mine the canyon once again narrows and the trail becomes just a little congested with willows and oak brush.


The area around the mine provides several opportunities for scrambling around in the digs. There seems to be an endless supply of mica and quartz even with all that ends up in little pants pockets.


We had a nice refreshing breeze blowing for the entire hike. The temperature was around 90 F in the valley but it felt very comfortable in Ladder Canyon.


We spent a couple of hours hiking to the mine and back. We didn't have any kids in tow but we doddered about taking pictures and playing around.


The Mica Mine is a popular place to go year round. We saw young couples, people with kids and others that looked like they were unwinding after a day at work. At no time did there seem to be a crowd. If you don't know where the Bangs Canyon Staging Area is you can find it by clicking on the Google Map link at the top of this post. And if you want to enjoy a classic easy trail then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.