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The full loop of hiking trails in Escalante Petrified Forest State Park


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Map Key

2.0

Miles

3.3

KM

Lollipop

6,231' 1,899 m

High

5,962' 1,817 m

Low

490' 149 m

Up

490' 149 m

Down

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

34%

Max Grade (19°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Geological Significance · Historical Significance · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly Mostly easy hiking but with some steep and rocky sections

Overview

This is the full loop that combines the Petrified Forest nature trail with the Sleeping Rainbows trail. Despite what some people think, you won't be finding "forests" of petrified wood. There are amazing specimens to behold, but you may have to look hard to find them. And sadly, many people have already taken pieces of the wood as souvenirs. Please do not take pieces of petrified wood home. Other highlights include elevated views over Wide Hollow Reservoir, chances at spotting wildlife, and interesting geology including a large balanced rock on top of a hill.

Need to Know

Once you pay the entrance fee ($10 per vehicle) the parking lot is just around the corner to the right. Restrooms and showers are located north of the trailhead parking lot, in Wide Hollow Campground.

Description

On the south side of the parking lot you'll find the trailhead for the Petrified Forest Trail. Grab a trail guide if you want to learn about all the numbered stops along the way pointing out the petrified wood, scenery, and vegetation. This trail initially has a few switchbacks to gain 270+ feet of elevation, earning some great views of Wide Hollow Reservoir, You'll also find a the big balanced rock near the top of the hill.

Once you hike to the top of the hill you'll see that the trail goes left or right. The numbers of the interpretive trail go in the counterclockwise direction, so that is the recommended way to go. Soon you'll come to another fork where the Trail of Sleeping Rainbows departs. This extra loop adds another 3/4 of a mile and more strenuous hiking, but it is well worth it.

More amazing and colorful petrified wood is found down this trail, including one of the park's best examples of preserved tree rings in a large petrified log. There are no interpretive numbers along the Rainbows trail, so you'll have to pay attention as you go to find the highlights. Once this trail rejoins the nature loop, you'll pick up where you left off with the numbers in the brochure.

From that point there is another gentle climb with more nice views, and once you reach the initial junction you'll return back down the trail to the parking lot.

Flora & Fauna

If you are lucky, you might be able to see rabbits, snakes, scorpions, deer, lizards, rodents, many different types of birds, and perhaps a coyote or even a desert fox.

History & Background

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park was established in 1963 and the Wide Hollow Reservoir was built in 1954. The park protects an area where dinosaur bones and a lot of fossilized wood have been found, dating back more than 100 million years! Signs in the park and the nature trail brochure do a good job of explaining the complex geology of this place, and some of the best specimens are on display at the visitor center.

Contacts

Shared By:

Jesse Weber

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  5.0 from 1 vote

#2241

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Photos

Wide Hollow Reservoir and Barney Top from the Petrified Forest Trail.
Jun 11, 2017 near Escalante, UT
Petrified wood - with its annual growth rings still clearly visible.
Jun 11, 2017 near Escalante, UT
An entire trunk of petrified wood.
Jun 11, 2017 near Escalante, UT
Petrified Wood is one of the highlights along the trail.
Jun 11, 2017 near Escalante, UT

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Jun 29, 2024
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