Hike Around the Silver Reef Mines and the Charcoal Kiln, Dixie National Forest

Silver Reef is an abandoned mining area near Leeds, Utah famous for the silver rush in the 1870s after the surprising discovery of the precious metal embedded in the sandstone. In it’s heyday the town of Silver Reef boated over 2,000 residents and a mile-long main street, some buildings of which remain standing. Additional mining operations for copper, uranium, and vandium continued into the 1970s but the today the area is public land and so Tom, Terry, and I hiked across the scrub, exploring the sealed and/or grated mine shafts as well as the remains of some rock-foundation houses that the workers presumably lived in. After walking for a few hours we then stopped at the ghost town to see the remaining buildings.

Abandoned mine, Silver Reef, Utah

Abandoned mine, Silver Reef, Utah

Standing on the grated mine shaft looking up at the mine elevator infrastructure, Silver Reef, Utah

Standing on the grated mine shaft looking up at the mine elevator infrastructure, Silver Reef, Utah

Old mine entrance in hillside, Silver Reef, Utah

Old mine entrance in hillside, Silver Reef, Utah

One of the many now-grated small mine shafts, Silver Reef, Utah

One of the many now-grated small mine shafts, Silver Reef, Utah

Embedded in concrete of grated and sealed mine shaft of 540 ft, Silver Reef, Utah

Embedded in concrete of grated and sealed mine shaft of 540 ft, Silver Reef, Utah

Old glass turned purple from sun exposure, Silver Reef, Utah

Old glass turned purple from sun exposure, Silver Reef, Utah

Silver Reef, Utah

Silver Reef, Utah

Cemetery at Silver Reef, Utah

Cemetery at Silver Reef, Utah

Cemetery looking northwest to Pine Valley Mountains, Silver Reef, Utah

Cemetery looking northwest to Pine Valley Mountains, Silver Reef, Utah

Original Wells Fargo Building, ca. 1877, Silver Reef, Utah

Original Wells Fargo Building, ca. 1877, Silver Reef, Utah

After the short stop at the ghost town we drove a few miles into Dixie National Forest where Tom and Terry showed me a charcoal kiln a half mile from the road. This beehive kiln converted trees from the surrounding mountains into the charcoal that was used to fuel Silver Reef’s five silver mills. Processing of the silver into bullion at the mills was done because it was more economical to ship the concentrated silver rather than the mined sandstone blocks.

Charcoal kiln, Leeds Creek Kiln Trail, Dixie National Forest, Utah

Charcoal kiln, Leeds Creek Kiln Trail, Dixie National Forest, Utah

Inside the charcoal kiln, Leeds Creek Kiln Trail, Dixie National Forest, Utah

Inside the charcoal kiln, Leeds Creek Kiln Trail, Dixie National Forest, Utah

Inside the charcoal kiln, Leeds Creek Kiln Trail, Dixie National Forest, Utah

Inside the charcoal kiln, Leeds Creek Kiln Trail, Dixie National Forest, Utah

Me walking around the kiln, Leeds Creek Kiln Trail, Dixie National Forest, Utah

Me walking around the kiln, Leeds Creek Kiln Trail, Dixie National Forest, Utah

Me taking pictures of the charcoal kiln, Dixie National Forest, Utah

Me taking pictures of the charcoal kiln, Leeds Creek Kiln Trail, Dixie National Forest, Utah

Although we only drove a few miles into the national forest in order to look at the kiln, I became pretty smitten with the Pine Valley Mountains. And with the few hundred feet of elevation gained after crossing into the national forest, the Hurricane Cliffs and the plateau beyond come into view as well.

Pine Valley Mountains, Dixie National Forest, Utah

Pine Valley Mountains, Dixie National Forest, Utah

View east towards the Hurricane Cliffs from Dixie National Forest, Utah

View east towards the Hurricane Cliffs from Dixie National Forest, Utah