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Picket Wire Canyonlands Trail

Easy/Intermediate
 4.8 (5)

A relatively easy trail to one of the largest dinosaur trackways in the world.


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Map Key

8.9

Miles

14.3

KM

Point to Point

4,634' 1,412 m

High

4,317' 1,316 m

Low

262' 80 m

Up

475' 145 m

Down

2%

Avg Grade (1°)

21%

Max Grade (12°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features -none-

No camping in the canyon.

Need to Know

Cell phone reception is spotty on the canyon rim and not existent in the canyon. Be cautious when hiking and do not take unnecessary risks. Medical assistance could be 1 to 2 hours away.

Camping is allowed on the canyon rim but camping in the canyon is not allowed. Dogs are not allowed in the canyon. There are no services in the canyon except a pit toilet at the Rourke Ranch and the dinosaur trackway. Water can be filtered from the river but it is highly bitter and unpalatable.

Preventions against flats is highly encouraged whether that be tubeless tires or liners or Slime or some combination of all three. This area is infested with goatheads.

Rattlesnakes are common in the canyon. Take any necessary precautions and be cautious when walking in tall grass or near rocks.

Do not deface nor harm petroglyphs nor dinosaur tracks.

June, July, and August are uncomfortably hot for hiking.

Description

Located south of La Junta, Colorado, this hike is not a difficult trail hike...except for the first half mile and last half mile. The hike in the canyon floor is flat and slightly sandy. There are a few short climbs and short downhills. However, the hike isn't the main reason for doing this hike.

Within the canyon, there is a dinosaur trackway that, in addition to being one of the largest in the world, has helped us understand dinosaur behavior. The trackway contains over 1,000 footprints from approximately 125 individual dinosaurs. The trackway is split by the Purgatory River (Rio de las Animas Perdidas en Purgatório). Bring wading shoes.

The canyon has evidence of human occupation for the last 4,000 to 5,000 years. Petroglyphs pecked into rock from the Fremont era of Native Americans exist up and down the canyon. Evidence of a large Hispanic settlement from the 1880 to early 1900 is also present as are the remains of an 1800s to 1970s working cattle ranch.

The canyon is so filled with history that the hike often takes several hours to complete. It's not hard, but you are easily distracted. The trip is an out-and-back for a total distance of 18 miles.

Contacts

Shared By:

Stuart Black

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 5 votes

#1968

Overall
  4.8 from 5 votes
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Trail Rankings

#257

in Colorado

#1,968

Overall
32 Views Last Month
496 Since Jun 20, 2018
Easy/Intermediate

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Photos

Spring in full bloom on the canyon floor
May 20, 2019 near La Junta, CO
Great trail along the valley floor
May 20, 2019 near La Junta, CO
The trail along the Purgatoire River
May 20, 2019 near La Junta, CO
View into Withers Canyon
May 20, 2019 near La Junta, CO

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Check-Ins

Jun 20, 2020
Genady Shagal
May 2, 2020
Sam Russ
12.3mi
May 18, 2019
Mike Langenkamp
The distance makes the hike difficult 11.3mi
Dec 9, 2018
Seth Dayvan
warm (for December), dry, with little wind. lovely hike. 11mi