5 Best Day Hikes in Petrified Forest National Park

The park gets its name from the fossilized remains of ancient trees, now petrified logs, that are scattered throughout the landscape. The park has much more to offer as well. The surrounding hills are painted shades of red, purple, and blue from trace minerals in the desert clay. The historical importance of this area is also widely recognized today as remains from petroglyphs and other remains from ancient clutters can still be found. Below I have listed the 5 best hikes in Petrified Forest National Park with an additional nod to a few hikes that follow no trail for ‘off the beaten path’ adventures. Official Website.

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1. Blue Mesa Trail 

Short loop that descends from the mesa to an area of petrified wood and views of the surrounding badlands with blue infused clay that is incredible to see in person. The colors are especially spectacular to see after a recent rainfall. The trailhead is located next to the shelter on Blue Mesa Scenic Road.

  • 1.0 miles – Loop
  • No elevation gain
  • Easy

2. Painted Desert Rim Trail

Another relatively short trail but one that should not be passed up is Painted Desert Rim Trail. The surrounding hills with their red, purple, and blue colors makes this one of the best hikes in Petrified Forest National Park. Tawa Point and Kachina Point make excellent places to snap a picture. The trailhead is next to the Painted Desert Inn on Petrified Forest Road.

  • 1.0 miles – Out and back
  • No elevation gain
  • Easy

3. Crystal Forest Trail

Named for the crystals that hide in the petrified logs, this trail offers the best opportunity to experience the petrified wood deposits for which the park was named. The trailhead is on Petrified Forest Road just south of Agate Bridge.

  • 0.75 miles – Loop
  • No elevation gain
  • Easy

4. Giant Logs Trail

You’ll never guess what you’ll see on this trail! Some of the largest and oldest logs in the park are found here. “Old Faithful”, the highlight of the trail, is nearly ten feet wide in diameter. The trailhead can be found behind the Rainbow Forest Museum.

  • 0.4 miles – Loop
  • No elevation gain
  • Easy

5. Agate House & Long Logs Trails 

I recommend combining both the Agate House Trail and Long Logs Trail to make a slightly longer loop so you can experience both hikes in the same area. Long Logs has the largest concentration of petrified wood in the park while the Agate House, an ancient pueblo, is believed to have been inhabited 700 years ago! The trailhead for both trails is also on Petrified Forest Road just east of the Rainbow Forest Museum.

  • 2.6 miles – Loop
  • 50′ gain
  • Easy

Bonus

There are several hiking opportunities within this beautiful park that are off the beaten path and do not actually follow a trail. Make sure to stop at one of the park’s visitor centers for more detailed information on how to get to these areas. The best ones are: Devil’s Playground, Onyx Bridge, and Martha’s Butte.

 

 

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