Round Trip Distance: 1 miles
Elevation: 6234 - 6302 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Usage: Hiking - Equestrian - Dogs
Time: 30 mins.
Facilities: Vault toilet at Mica Mine trailhead
Trailhead: Old Kiln
Attractions: Lime kiln, scenic views of the valley
View Old Kiln Trail in a larger map
The Old Kiln Trail is located in the BLM Bangs Canyon Management Area, just off of Little Park Road, south of Grand Junction. The trail follows a former dirt road that passes near an old primitive lime kiln. Lime kilns were used to heat limestone to make quicklime. The resulting product had a variety of uses including making mortar and whitewash.
If you are driving up Little Park Road it is hard to miss the trailhead which is just past the turnoff for the Bangs Canyon Staging Area where there are restrooms and the trailheads for the Mica Mine and Rough Canyon trails.
After passing through the fence follow the old road to the left and follow it as it travels northwesterly toward the monument.
There is a fork to the right in the road just before you go a quarter mile. You will be able to see the kiln behind the trees about a hundred yards away.
The kiln was constructed with sandstone rocks that were probably quarried in the area and sealed with bentonite which is also plentiful. The limestone would have been reduced to quicklime by layering it inside the kiln with wood or coal. The layered stack would have then been set on fire from the bottom and allowed to burn. The lime would begin to breakdown when the temperature reached 900C (1652F).
This was probably a vent hole to allow the fire to breath. This small inefficient kiln probably became obsolete when the railroad or other means of transportation were able to supply the valley with what it needed.
There are some nice views of the surrounding area from the hill above the kiln. A walk out to the end of the road provides a nice overlook of the Ribbon Trail area.
While hiking around you might see some prickly pear cactus sporting their crop of Indian figs. This cactus fruit can make a nice snack but the trick is knowing how to handle it so that you don't get a zillion little hairy splinters in your fingers. Work gloves or a pair of pliers will do the trick.
Once you have picked the fruit you can skewer it with a toothpick or something similar and burn the clusters of hairy needles off with an open flame. Next peel away the skin and eat the rest. They have the texture and taste similar to a kiwi fruit. Some of the figs are green inside and some are red with the red ones being the sweetest.
The Old Kiln trail is a short hike that is suitable for children. Of course, I have seen kids of all ages on some pretty tough hikes but they managed just fine with the help of their parents. The kiln provides a good opportunity to teach something about the past and how things were once done. By studying a little about the process that takes place within a kiln you can also teach them some very basic chemistry at the same time. Other than that, the trail is there and so is the kiln so one of these days when you have the time may as well check it out. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.