Round Trip Distance: 4.7 miles
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
Elevation: 5037 - 5525 feet
Cellphone: 2-5 bars
Usage: Hiking - Biking - Equestrian - Dogs
Time: 2 hrs.
Facilities: Vault toilet
Trailhead: North Fruita Desert
Attractions: Wildflowers, deer, coyotes, easy route finding
View Kessel Run/Prime Cut in a larger map
The Kessel Run and Prime Cut trails are located in the North Fruita Desert Area, at the north end of 18 Road, about 8 miles northwest of Grand Junction. The area provides access to several nicely designed trails that are used for hiking, mountain biking and some equestrian. The 18 Road area has around 73 miles of trails counting the 28 mile long Edge Loop that goes up and around the Little Book Cliffs. The various trails can be combined to form hikes of about any length. A campground at the upper end of 18 Road has several restrooms and roughly 35 free camping sites.
The Kessel Run and Prime Cut trails are probably the most popular trails in the 18 Road area. Friends that I have talked to like to ride their mountain bikes up the Prime Cut trail and down Kessel Run. They say that going down Kessel Run with its zig zag turns is an extreme blast. Both of these trails also get a lot of use because they provide access to the other trails in the area. I decided to hike the trails in the opposite direction by going up Kessel Run and down Prime Cut. The Kessel Run trail begins at the southwest corner of the parking area.
The first trail junction that you come to is about a quarter mile from the trailhead. The Kessel Run trail makes a right turn up the wash.
The trail follows the wash, which parallels 18 Road, as it heads north towards the Little Book Cliffs.
Within a mile the trail intersects with the Joe's Ridge trail. Kessel Run continues northward up the wash which is much shallower now.
Kessel Run crosses V.7 Road and continues on the other side.
The juniper trees are a lot thicker on the upper end of Kessel Run. Here the trail is passing by on the east side of the campground.
There is a junction at the upper end of the campground where a trail breaks off to the left that goes over to the Frontside trail. If you take the right fork you will cross 18 Road where you can begin the descent back toward the trailhead on the Prime Cut trail.
The trail between 18 Road and Prime Cut crosses one wash along the way.
At the next trail junction you come to is the beginning of the Chutes and Ladders trail. At this point the Prime Cut trail turns south to head down the wash on the east side of 18 Road.
Most of the Prime Cut trail is much more secluded than Kessel Run. There seem to be more trees and the wash is a lot deeper in most places. As far as the hiking goes both trails are pretty easy. There is an elevation delta of about 500 feet on both trails but it is spread out over a 2 mile distance and there aren't any sections that are very steep.
The last trail junction is near a stock pond where the Edge Loop and Vegetarian trails begin. A right turn at this point takes you up the hill and back across 18 Road to the trailhead.
I have hiked both of these trails several times where I didn't see any mountain bikers or hikers. These trails can get pretty busy with mountain bikes in the warmer months but probably not quite as much as the Tabeguache or Kokopelli trails. The 18 Road area is close enough to town to be a good destination for an after work outing. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.