Mr. Williams' Geology Trail - Opal Hill Loop

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 1.75 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 4508 - 4773 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 1 hr. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Snooks Bottom
Fee: none
Attractions: Interpretive geology trail




View Mr. Williams Geology - Opal Hill in a larger map

Mr. Williams' Geology trail is located near Opal Hill and Devil's Canyon south of Fruita, Colorado. The trail is composed of the Opal Hill Loop and the Devil's Canyon Loop. Both loops are connected by a short trail that runs between Opal Hill and Devil's Canyon. Each loop has about a dozen trail signs with Mr. Williams' caricature teaching the geology of the surrounding area in a fun and somewhat adventurous manner. This post covers the Opal Hill Loop where hikers will find signs 1 through 12.


The Opal Hill Loop begins at the Snooks Bottom trailhead. To get there drive about 1 mile south from the Fruita Welcome Center on Highway 340 toward the Colorado National Monument. Turn right on the Kingsview Road and after about a half mile bear right to the trailhead.


Follow the Snooks Bottom trail toward the lake for about 80 feet and depart to the left on the side trail.


Each of the signs along the trail has a map key in the lower right hand corner with the directions that will lead hikers to the next sign. They make navigating the many interconnecting trails of Opal Hill an easier task. This is especially helpful when the next sign isn't visible from your current position.


The trail makes a big loop that will lead to the summit of Opal Hill and back down the east side where it heads back to the trailhead. As the loop travels its course there are several short out-and-back trails that branch off of the main loop.


As you hike from sign to sign Mr. Williams tells his interesting story using visual aids that point out the details of the local geology. All the signs taken together are like reading an enjoyable book on the subject.


A bonus treat is the view from the summit of Opal Hill. And maybe the exercise that it takes to get there.


Sign number 12 marks the point of the Opal Hill Loop where the trail to the left leads back to the parking area and going to the right will take you over to the Devil's Canyon Loop.


There are several types of petrified wood that are very common in the area. At a location along East Creek there are entire tree trunks that protrude from the side of the hill.


We have had a few people ask us about finding opal. The type of opal here at Opal Hill is the common variety and not the precious opal that collectors seek. The closest thing to precious opal in the area are specimens of opalized wood that can be found in a few places above the Gunnison River on the Gunnison Bluffs trail.


We have the friends, family and fellow Fruita Monument High School teachers of Mr. Williams to thank for the Mr. William's Geology trail. They have built a trail that the community can be as proud of as they were of Mr. Williams. Those that make the trek that weren't acquainted with Mr. Williams might leave with a feeling of loss for not having known him. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.