Anasazi Ruin Perched on Cliff
Don't do what we did and try to drive on this road after a rainstorm. We got 100 yards in and discovered that dried sunflower stalks make great tools for digging mud out of tire treads. Do yourself a favor and park on the shoulder of BLM road 4531 and hoof it in. The road is only about one mile to the trail head.
The ruin site is remote and scenic. Perched precariously on a cliff edge, the tower ruins evoke a sense of awe and mystery. The site is named after the painted hands pictoglyphs that decorate someplace near the tower, but we did not find them. After touring Hovenweep, it is ingrained that these ruins are fragile and not meant to be clambered over, so we respected the ruins and did not enter them. The beauty of the site fills the soul enough that it is only necessary to take a seat on a rock and just gaze at the ruins and their relationship with the canyon.
The trail skirts around the tower and continues along the cliff contour. Evidence of ancient habitation abounds. The trail scrambles up to the mesa top, where one can only imagine how it was that these ancient peoples farmed in this what appears to be an arid landscape.
The trail is a loop and quite short. If the quest for more ruins entices you, continue hiking further down the same road to Cutthroat Castle Group Ruins (part of the Hovenweep National Monument). We, unfortunately, did not know this little tidbit and turned around after visiting this site, but you, savvy hiker, will be better informed after having read this. Lucky you!
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.