History hikes in Golden: See dinosaur fossils and a lime kiln

GOLDEN, Colo. - There's a nice family hike in Golden that let's you teach your kids about dinosaurs and see a brick-making kiln created in the late 1800s -- the Kinney Run Trail and the Triceratops Trail.

The hike starts on a paved path near 6th Avenue near 19th Street (directions below). The parking lot is part of Colorado School of Mines, so bring change to get a parking sticker.

From the parking lot, walk west and south around the Mines police department offices to the paved bike path along 6th Avenue. Here you'll find a wooden trail sign with information on things to see and do in the area. Turn left/south and walk the paved path. Watch out for fast moving skaters, bicyclists and runners using the path.

About .20 miles from the parking lot, you'll see a turnoff and a sign for the Triceratops Trail. Turn left onto the gravel and dirt path. A sign here tells visitors this is an out and back trail. Hike over the short rise to an open pit on each side of the trail.

The open pit is the remnants of a mining area. The Parfet family didn't mine gold and silver, they mined clay for bricks, ceramics and other uses from the 1870s to the 1990s.

Follow the trail that switchbacks into the pit to see Diplodocus dinosaur tracks preserved in the clay/mud that was once part of the inland sea/swamp lands that are now Colorado. Small signs point out dinosaur tracks and even raindrop impressions preserved for millions of years.

After exploring the pit, climb back up and continue on the trail to the geological overlook. There is a sculpture here and signs that explain the geological history of the area. Read the signs and enjoy the views of the sandstone walls below you, the Fossil Trace Golf Course and in the distance South and North Table Mountains.

Continue down the path to the sandstone wall to find signs pointing out more dinosaur tracks, palm frond impressions and other fossils left millions of years ago.

The trail ends at Fossil Trace Golf Course. Turn around the return the way you came to the Kinney Run bike path. Continue north on the paved path. As you walk, you may notice the wildlife crossing on 6th Avenue. Sensors are supposed to light up signs when wildlife are in the area. As you walk, you may also spot a water culvert under the highway. If you look closely, it says it was built in 1950.

After walking about 0.6 miles from the Triceratops turnoff, you'll come to a three-way intersection on the path with a bridge. Turn right and follow the path under 6th Avenue. Depending on the time of year you walk here, you may notice water in a walled-off section of the underpass. That water comes from wetlands on the side of the road.

The paved path passes the wetlands and into an area with lots of vegetation. Look up and you may see some impressive rock cliffs above you. Go through a second culvert and turn left. From here, it's just a short walk to the Cambria Lime Kiln on the right side of the path.

Photos on the internet show there were signs here explaining the history of the kilns, but the signs were gone when I visited in June 2014. According to the internet photo, the signs said the kiln is the only known surviving made-made industrial component of any of Golden's brick-making operations and may be the only historical industrial kiln remaining in Jefferson County.

The Cambria Brick and Tile Company operated in Golden from 1879 to the mid 1890s. The company built this kiln using native sandstone and not brick, which was rather unusual, the sign said. Raw lime was fired in the hiln, heated to a high temperature,and transformed into bricks and other forms that could be used to build homes, smelters, brick, pottery and tile products.When you're done exploring this site, return the way you came.

Details: The hike to all of the sites on the Triceratops Trail, then to the historic kiln and back is about 3.5 miles. You can take a stroller most of the way. However, the Triceratops Trail has some dirt sections.

Directions: From Denver, take 6th Avenue west to Golden. At 19th Street/Lookout Mountain Road, turn right/east. Take the next right on Jones Road and pull into the parking lot. Find a parking spot and walk west toward the bike path.

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