scared to death
Overview: Unlike the petrified forest east of Holbrook, this petrified forest actually is a current forest as well. There is a short interpretive loop off the parking lot, but the main attraction is the longer (but not long) Petrified Forest Trail lasso, with an option to three quarters of a mile via the Trail of Sleeping Rainbows.
Hike: It's short, so there is not really much to describe. Other than a petrified conifer, and some volcanic bombs, the Petrified Forest Trail does not have much to it. The really good stuff is on the Trail of Sleeping Rainbows, which is the way I will describe it. We'll go counter-clockwise. Make sure you bring your Nature Trail Guide so you can identify the numbered highlights.
From the parking lot, head south up some short switchbacks. (Park staff may have told you this is "moderate to strenuous", but for most HAZers not so much.)
When you reach the top of the plateau, at a half mile, you will have a great view south of Escalante and, in the far distance, the Kaiparowits Plateau. Two hundred yards further along are the first specimens of petrified wood, including what appears to be a nearly full trunk (though it is not intact). Not far past that is the beginning of the Trail of Sleeping Rainbows, with dire warning signs. Ignore them; continue on.
The Trail of Sleeping Rainbows descends towards the edge of a small box canyon, then back up to rejoin the main trail only a few yards from where they split. This extension has more specimens than you can shake a (petrified) stick at. The most common colors are ochre, brick red and brown, with some grey. I did not see any green, blue, purple, etc.
After the trails rejoin is small field of volcanic bombs, ejected from Boulder Mountain, which is 18 miles north. (And, post explosion, more of a plateau than a mountain.)
Just before the loop closes is the park's prize attraction, a petrified conifer with identifiable rings.
From there it's down the switchbacks back to the trailhead.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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