Kleenburn Rec Area

It is May of 2022 and gas prices are soaring.  Wyoming is lucky in that we aren’t at $6 or $7 a gallon yet but by the way things are going it is looking like we’re going to get that way.  Fingers crossed we won’t.

But since gas is so expensive and because I still want to do some big trips later on this year, today I opted to go somewhere close by that I had never visited before – Kleenburn Rec Area.

Located near the itty bitty, almost non-existent city of Acme, Wyoming, the Kleenburn Rec Area is a favorite amongst locals.  Despite living in Wyoming for over a year, I had never actually gone and visited.

I’m very glad I did.

The hiking at Kleenburn Rec Area is….okay.  The focus of the space is the water access and the fishing ponds.  Until I visited this place, I thought I would have to take my paddleboard all the way to Lake DeSmet in Johnson County which is about forty minutes away.  However on our next hot day I’m going to load up the board and drop it in the water here at Kleenburn.

You access Kleenburn from the Acme exit from I90 – Exit 14. Once you take the exit there are plenty of signs posted showing you which way to go. Follow the paved road until you take a dramatic right turn onto a dirt road. As you follow this road you will come across the first of two parking lots.

Both parking lots are for Kleenburn but the first parking lot has a surprisingly clean vault toilet. I don’t know if I just visited early enough in the season or what, but the vault toilet didn’t smell like vault toilets normally do. It is the only vault toilet in the park.

I loaded up my camera and headed down the trailhead to the east of the parking lot. There is a doggy bag stand and trash can located right as the trail starts. Please stock up or bring your own. I will say that Kleenburn was exceptionally clean. I saw very, very little in the way of trash. Again, I don’t know if that is because I visited on one of the first nice days of the year and no one had had an opportunity to trash the place yet, but my visit was delightfully clean.

I continued down the trail and came across an unfortunate looking table that, when new, would have been a great place to eat lunch. However some human had seen fit to break one of the seats off. The table is still usable, it is just a frustrating reminder that some people don’t respect public property. Please don’t be one of those people.

Of course it is absolutely still usable and a good place for a picnic. There are actually quite a few of these tables scattered around the area. Most people I saw had brought their own camp chairs and were seated on the bank of the ponds.

The trail is all crushed rock and very easy to follow. I thought for a little bit that it was just a short trail around the main pond but was surprised to come across a fork in the trail. If you take the left fork you will cross over a little bridge and end up back at the parking lot. However if you take the right fork you’ll add a little under a half mile to your hike and end up at a much more secluded pond. The main pond had 8-10 people around it while I was there but the second pond was completely empty. I stopped for a bit to enjoy the sound of the birds and watch the fish swim around in the clear water.

Once I was done relaxing I continued down the trail which met up with the original trail at the bridge and then finished at the parking lot where I’d left my Jeep.

All in all a nice little loop around some ponds. Very easy, very flat, very pleasant. There are bird sounds all around you and the water adds a cool touch to the air.

The ONLY negatives I could see on this trail were:

  1. There is a loud gravel pit across the road from Kleenburn. You can hear the sounds of machinery from almost everywhere but you eventually learn to ignore it.
  2. You are very close to I90 as you are hiking. Not close enough to be in danger, but close enough to be very aware that you are still in civilization.

This trail is:

  1. Kid and beginner friendly – short, flat and lots of resting places.
  2. Dog friendly – just make sure you have your dog under control at all times.
  3. Picnic friendly – So many places to just come and relax.
  4. Cell phone friendly – I didn’t lose reception anywhere but on occasion my phone would have a difficult time connecting to the internet.

The area is best suited for:

  1. Fishing
  2. Paddleboarding/Kayaking
  3. Leisurely walks around some ponds

All in all I liked it and I will go back to Kleenburn, just not to hike.  As stated earlier the next time I go I’ll probably pack a lunch in a waterproof bag and load up the paddleboard to explore the river.

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