register help
This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Petroglyph Point Trail, CO

49 11 0
Guide 11 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CO > Southwest
3.3 of 5 by 4
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,972 feet
Elevation Gain -350 feet
Accumulated Gain 600 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6
Interest Ruins
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
7  2016-05-08
Mesa Verde National Park
2  2015-10-10 PatrickL
4  2013-07-23
Spruce Canyon/Petroglyph Point Loop
8  2012-07-21 leannrasmussen
7  2012-05-29
Spruce Canyon/Petroglyph Point Loop
12  2011-09-06 PatrickL
16  2009-04-11 PrestonSands
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   May, Oct, Sep, Apr → Any
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  5:57am - 6:19pm
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Culture Nearby
escape the crowds at me-ve
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
Overview: Mesa Verde National Park's Petroglyph Point Trail loops around the west side of Chapin Mesa, past the Park's largest known petroglyph panel, below Petroglyph Point (also known as Pictograph Point). The trail also introduces one to the area's geology and native plants, and how they were used by the Ancestral Puebloans of Mesa Verde.

Hikers are required to sign in at the Chapin Mesa Museum, or at the trail information box, located where the trail splits off from the Spruce Tree House trail. Trail guides explaining the numbered posts found along the Petroglyph Point Trail can be borrowed or purchased from this box as well.

Hike: From the south side of the Chapin Mesa Museum, follow the signs for Spruce Tree House. An asphalt walkway leads into the canyon bottom below the museum, where the Petroglyph Point and Spruce Canyon Trails diverge near the exit sign for the Spruce Tree House loop path. You will definitely want to take the short loop through Spruce Tree House, one of Mesa Verde's most impressive cliff dwellings, if you have not already done so.

Turning onto the shared path of the Petroglyph Point and Spruce Canyon Trails, the hike heads down the shady canyon floor for a short distance, before the two trails go their separate ways. Go left on the Petroglyph Point Trail, which begins an undulating climb along the side of Chapin Mesa. The Petroglyph Point Trail follows a series of sandstone benches below the mesa's cliff edge, weaving past several alcoves and overhangs. Near post number 10, a backward glance reveals a small ruin above the trail, tucked into one of these alcoves. A more accessible alcove near post 18 contains several low walls.

About one and a half miles from the trailhead, at post 24, the trail arrives at the petroglyph panel. Carved into the Cretaceous Cliff House Sandstone, just above the trail, is an assortment of interesting shapes and animal representations covering an area approximately fifteen feet wide by six feet tall.

From the petroglyph panel, the trail makes an abrupt scramble through a weak spot in the cliffs, to the top of the mesa, one hundred feet above. Once on top, the Petroglyph Point Trail turns north to follow the west edge of Chapin Mesa. Openings in the pinyon-juniper forest present views to the west of canyons that cut into the broad expanse of Mesa Verde.

Near the head of the canyon that lies to the west, Chapin Mesa Museum comes into view again, and the trail crosses a concrete dam above a dry waterfall. Once across, one can look down at Spruce Tree House in the canyon below, and the trail rejoins the paved walkway to Spruce Tree House, just below the museum.

Check out the Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2009-04-19 PrestonSands
    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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Petroglyph Point Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Mesa Verde National Park
    I arrived at Mesa Verde around noon, got myself a camp spot, then hit the trails around 1pm.

    The first trail I did was the northern loop of Prater Ridge. I was hoping to get some good pictures of the snow-capped San Juans (La Platta to be specific), but they were covered in clouds since I arrived in Cortez. Every so often, I would get a glimpse of a snow-capped peak or two. No matter, I'll be driving through the area for the next couple of days so I'm sure i'll get my chance. Other than a couple of good views to the west of the steep cliffs of the mesa and Sleeping Ute Mountain, this trail got old kind of quickly. The weather was looking rather ominous as well, I couldn't tell if the wall of clouds was coming towards me or moving away from me. I had intended to do the entire loop but once I reached the "short cut" trail which takes you back to the loop junction I decided to call it good for this trail. On a clear day I'm sure this trail has a little more to offer.

    On my way up the mesa, I stopped at Park View Outlook in hopes that the clouds might of lifted over the San Juans. No dice.

    Next I went to the Spruce Tree House to see some ruins. I wanted to try and avoid the crowds at the guided tours, and I wanted to check out Petroglyph Point Trail. I discovered when I got there that the ruins were closed and that the area closes at 5pm (it was 4:09pm). Petroglyph Point was only 2.6ish miles long so I knew I would be cutting it a little close, but I headed down the rim of the mesa. The hiking got really good here. Petroglyph Point Trail contours the mesa about 120 ft from the top. You are squeezing through boulders and tight spaces, constantly descending and climbing narrow stone staircases, and at some points doing some very short light scrambles, all while next to some steep drop offs into a canyon on your right with great views. Although short lived, this really redeemed the day for me.

    In my haste to return to the TH by 5pm I missed the Petroglyphs and ascended back to the top of the mesa. Whoops... ](*,) From here it's all flat easy walking so I shifted into high gear and made it back to the TH at 5:03pm.

    BTW, if you're wondering how I'm posting this from the campground at Mesa Verde, it turns out they have installed free wifi... :o
    Petroglyph Point Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Went clockwise for once. Lots of people on the petroglyph trail, only two on Spruce. I tried to go to Spruce Tree House but the back trail was blocked off and I didn't feel like going all the way around. I was able to see the western end of the site at least, which was fine with me because it was packed - good old Saturday.
    Petroglyph Point Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Spruce Canyon/Petroglyph Point Loop
    Went counterclockwise again. The weather was great albeit warm during the uphill sections. Actually saw a couple other parties along Spruce Canyon Trail this time, all of which had questions about which end of the trail we started on and how much worse it was ahead. We came to the conclusion that the majority of Mesa Verde's visitors don't typically hike.

    Oh, and we got to watch some kid try to climb down into a kiva before being hollered at by a park ranger. Good stuff.
    Petroglyph Point Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Spruce Canyon/Petroglyph Point Loop
    Counter-clockwise starting on Spruce Canyon, then up to Spruce Tree House, and back up and around on Petroglyph Point.

    The lizards were out in full force, along with the butterflies and birds. The forest was alive and green. You'd think there would be more people, but I didn't see a soul. That all changed once I closed in on Spruce Tree House - no surprise there. Spent a few minutes looking around, climbed in and out of the kiva, and then took off onto Petroglyph Point. Wasn't alone anymore, but there were only a handful of folks and they were spread out. Came across a very colorful collared lizard and a benchmark on the mesa top.
    Petroglyph Point Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Today was day 1 of our Colorado adventure. My brother Ryan and I went to Mesa Verde, and chose this trail. We did a clockwise loop, and had lunch near the petroglyph panel. There were quite a few hikers on the trail today, but still nothing like the masses to be found near pavement. Saw a few new things, and had a great hike under partly cloudy skies. Afterwards we drove around looking at the other dwellings to be seen near the loop road (Square Tower, Oak Tree, etc). We were only 2.5 hours late for dinner. It was an afternoon well spent :D
    Petroglyph Point Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Upon leaving Spruce Tree House, the snowfall tapered off, and I continued on in my short and hectic visit to Mesa Verde (I wished I had a couple of days to spend here...). The skies soon began to clear a bit, the sun came out, and I eventually stripped down to my usual shorts and t-shirt hiking atire. I had bought the guide book for the trail, but had conveniently left it in the truck :roll: , so I had no clue what most of the numbered posts were referring to. Mostly native plants, as I discovered later. Got to see two cool little ruins along the trail, the first of which was intact. The petroglyph panel was quite impressive, and so were the views along the hike. On the way back, mud on the mesa top gave me an undesired 2 inch lift, resulting in me bashing my head in on a pinyon branch. Loading up on cool stuff at the Chapin Mesa Museum gift shop delayed me, so I exited the park quickly and on two wheels : rambo : to pick up my wife in Cortez on time. I was still late. All in all, it was a good hike that I recommend. I can't wait to go back 8)

    Permit $$

    Mesa Verde National Park
    $10-15 per vehicle (depends on season) good for 7 days Permit Information

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To Headquarters Trailhead
    From Cortez, Colorado, take US160 east towards Mesa Verde. Take the Mesa Verde exit, and pay the fee at the entrance station. The road continues up the mesa in a steep, narrow road. From the Far View Visitor's Center (closed in winter), take the Ruins Loop Road about 8 miles to the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum. The trail starts here. There is also a gift shop and soda fountain at the trailhead.
    page created by PrestonSands on Apr 19 2009 3:32 pm
    3 pack - loud whistle
    go prepared
    help comment issue

    end of page marker