The Grand Junction area has a vast number of mountain bike trails for all abilities and several excellent hiking trails in Colorado National Monument, all within a short distance of the city. What is hard to find, though, are good hiking trails that allow dogs. One option to consider is the Mica Mine Trail in the Bangs Canyon Special Recreation Management Area just south of town. Known primarily as a great mountain bike and OHV destination, the Bangs Canyon staging area offers this great little hike for hikers with four-footed pals.
Mica is a fascinating mineral, a silicate that forms very thin sheets of rock that is quite transparent. Once used for window material in early 20th century automobiles, it still has applications in electronics and as peephole coverings in high-temperature setting like blast furnaces. The mica mine near Grand Junction is not much to see, but there is certainly a lot of mica and quartz scattered around the old site, and the hike down Ladder Canyon to get there is pleasant and scenic.
Starting at the large Bangs Canyon staging area, the trail down to Ladder Canyon soon branches off to another trail through Rough Canyon where there are some rock art sites. Ladder Canyon is a typical Colorado Plateau canyon composed of eroded Wingate Formation rock. The creek flows early in the season and the trail crosses the creek several times, but the canyon is dry later in the summer and fall. It is easy to spot the shiny mica pieces along the trail after about a mile, and these get quite numerous as the trail approaches the mine site. When there is water in the creek, there is a little waterfall just past the mine. Ladder Canyon can also be explored further if you have the time.
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