This short, packed gravel trail climbs above the visitor center and provides information regarding plants and animals that you may encounter in the monument.
The monument is open at different times throughout the year:
Fall and Winter Hours (November 13th through March 9)
9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Spring Hours (March 10 - May 24th)
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Summer Hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day)
8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
The park is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Days.
Need to Know
This is a wheelchair accessible trail and is a nice trail to take after ranger programs at the pavilion. Restrooms can be found in the visitor center.
The Ponderosa Loop Trail is a half mile trail that leaves from the back of the visitor center at the exhibit area, climbs uphill through a forest of pines, aspens, Douglas Firs, and spruce trees. The trail is wheelchair accessible via a crushed gravel trail. There are several informational signs that provide details about the plants and animals that call this area home. The trail departs from the exhibit where you can see some petrified redwood trees. The trail climbs toward a small amphitheater where a petrified redwood tree stump sits with a ponderosa pine tree growing out of it. Breaking to the right, the trail climbs gently to where the sawmill trail takes off to the left while the Ponderosa Trial goes to the right. Along the trail, trees are marked so that you can begin to identify trees like Ponderosa Pines, Douglas Firs, Colorado Blue Spruce, and Common Firs. You can read about the role of fire and how it shapes the forest that you are in. You can read about the life zones in the area (Alpine, Subalpine, and Montane zone) as well as the fossils that have been found in the area. The trail then descends down to where it intersects the Boulder Creek Trail
and the Petrified Forest Loop. The end of the trail is at the larger amphitheater where 3 of the redwood trees are covered by a pavilion where tours and ranger talks take place. From here, you can make your way back to your car in the parking lot or explore one of the other trails that depart from the visitor center.
Flora & Fauna
Due to the proximity to the visitor center, there aren't a great number of animals in the area. You may encounter some squirrels running between the trees and birds singing in the trees along the trail. Various types of trees (Douglas Fir, Common Junipers, Colorado Blue Spruces) line the trail. In the spring time, wildflowers can be seen blooming at different points in the trail.
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Summary, ADA Accessible
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