easy trails: Mica Mine Trail a favorite for spring hiking
Spring has sprung. With that in mind, fellow features writer Rachel Sauer and I thought it would be the perfect time of year to go hiking, highlighting how great conditions can be — not too hot, not too cold — for someone wanting to get outside for a couple hours.
We solicited suggestions on short, easy-to-access hikes, where people could spend a long lunch or a leisurely afternoon without the fear of getting lost or the bother of packing copious amounts of food and gear.
We just wanted an easy, pretty hike.
Features editor Ann Wright suggested the Mica Mine Trail because it’s a popular, but scenic, 2.6-mile roundtrip hike in the Bureau of Land Management’s Bangs Canyon Special Recreation Management Area several miles outside Grand Junction.
Neither Rachel nor I had a clue where this was. The Bookcliffs? Dominguez Canyon? McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area by Fruita?
Um, no, Ann said.
Mica Mine is up Little Park Road just southwest of Grand Junction. The trail is accessed from the Bangs Canyon Trailhead parking lot. It’s a short, easy hike popular with families.
Honestly, all I heard her say was the hike was easy.
Rachel and I left our office at about 2 p.m. on a recent Friday. We were back by 4:30 p.m.
In other words, the Mica Mine “hike” was easy. We didn’t even need snacks.
The trail, which I thought was marked well — just stay to the right — was beautiful considering the trees, flowers and shrubs weren’t yet in bloom. I’m told Ladder Creek seasonally weaves through the canyon, and we certainly saw evidence of it, but there wasn’t much water in the creek bed this time of year.
In fact, parts of the trail in the shade were still icy or super muddy.
(Spring hiking tip: Shaded areas of trails may still have ice or layers of mud thanks to melting show. Just be aware.)
Red rock formations lined the Mica Mine trail. Quartz and mica fragments were scattered everywhere alongside, or atop, the dirt path.
The variety of mica seen in the Mica Mine area grows in thin, transparent and flexible sheets, according to the BLM. It looks like gold on the rock walls with the flaky consistency of a croissant.
When the mica falls to the ground, however, it’s lightweight and shimmers in the sun.
The mica mine itself hasn’t been active since the 1980s, the BLM said, but its entrance is still visible at the trail’s end. Piles and piles of quartz and mica fragments are piled near the mine’s entrance, but the BLM discourages people from taking rocks and minerals from the area.
On a personal and happy note, this was probably the easiest hike I’ve ever done in Colorado.