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Crystal Forest Loop, AZ

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Guide 24 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northeast > Holbrook
3.7 of 5 by 9
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 0.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,533 feet
Elevation Gain 33 feet
Accumulated Gain 47 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 0.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 1.14
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12  2018-04-01
Blue Mesa Crystal Forest
17  2017-11-11 vanillagorilla
16  2017-06-05 rcorfman
14  2016-06-25
Petrified Forest National Park
17  2016-05-07
Petrified Forest National Park
34  2015-05-04
Petrified Forest NP
5  2015-04-11 leonesiegel
7  2015-01-19 laluna
Page 1,  2
Author rally_toad
author avatar Guides 21
Routes 4
Photos 512
Trips 422 map ( 2,598 miles )
Age 28 Male Gender
Location Boulder City, NV
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, May, Jun → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:03am - 6:23pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
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knock on wood
by rally_toad

The Crystal Forest trail is a relatively easily trail through some of the most spectacular deposits of petrified wood found in Petrified Forest National Park. The name Crystal Forest comes from the abundant crystals that were preserved in Petrified Wood here. If you look carefully you can still find an abundance of crystals in the petrified wood here.

Do not collect any petrified wood, or any other mineral, plant, animal or other cultural and historic objects from the park. These treasures are timeless, priceless, and irreplaceable. Please leave the resources in the park so that future generations can enjoy them as well.

The trail is paved and fairly short and easy. However you would be surprised how many people refuse to walk this great trail when I mention that it happens to be an astonishing three quarters of one mile long. Many visitors to Petrified Forest seem to have 3 main goals.
1. Stay in the car as long as possible.
2. Spend less than 2 hours in the park.
3. Avoid physical activity at all costs.
These visitors will see little, and miss what Petrified Forest really has to offer.
Anyway now on to the trail itself.

Turn right at the first intersection. The trail winds up and through some very cool pieces of petrified wood. Most of these pieces of wood are agatized, meaning that there is no cellular structure in the logs, these logs do not look like trees on the inside, but rather pretty rocks.

After less than 5 minutes on the left is one of my favorite logs in the park. It looks as if someone is cutting the log up into bologna slices as it becomes exposed out of the ground. Walk a bit further and you will reach about the half way point of the hike, where two very long, light brown logs lay to the left side of the trail. These logs are permineralized. For some reason when it was becoming petrified the cell wall in the tree remained intact, and so not only will these have cellular structure but these logs still look like trees on the inside, with nice rings, etc.

Further down the trail you come to trees on the right which have a layer of sedimentary rock covering the actual wood. This is layers of mud and other sediments that covered the logs during the Triassic period. Look closely and you may find crystals in this area.

There are still many crystals in the area so I invite you to look for your self and take your time to look for them rather than missing them like many visitors. After 30 minutes, maybe a bit less, maybe a bit longer depending on how much time you took you will arrive back at your starting point. Have fun the rest of your time in the Park. Petrified Forest has become one of my favorite parks after I really got to know it well.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2009-08-16 rally_toad
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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
Crystal Forest Loop
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Blue Mesa Crystal Forest
After my Onyx Bridge hike, I opted for a few more Petrified Forest "hikes". I did the complete Crystal Forest loop, which is perhaps the least interesting of the designated park stops. I had also considered an exploration of Jasper Forest, but wasn't particularly intrigued by what I saw at the viewpoint.

Blue Mesa on the other hand -- wowsers! Simply one of the most incredible geologic sites I have ever experienced. There's a paved trail that leads through some of the basics here, but like elsewhere in PeFo, you are mostly free to explore off-trail and I made a larger extended loop away from the few tourists who ventured away from their cars. The colors here are incredible, and likely change with the weather and time of day.

This place is worth the price of admission!
Crystal Forest Loop
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Petrified Forest National Park
Made a stop at Petrified Forest National Park on my way to Colorado.

I hit up the Rainbow Forest Loop first. On returning to the beginning of the loop, I overheard a gentleman talking to a ranger asking if it was legal for him to tote his gun in the park. The ranger informed him it was legal to tote his gun, but if he discharged it he could be in trouble. The gentlemen replied: "But what if there's a mountain lion attacking me?!"

Next I hit up the Long Logs - Agate House loop. This was the longest trail I did at the park totaling a whopping 2.5 miles! The Agate house is interesting; It was built out of Petrified Wood! On the way back the loop takes you through some neat looking badlands. This was probably my favorite trail I did, you essentially get a little sampler of everything you see on the rest of the established trails.

After that, I was off to Crystal Forest. A short loop with a few good views, and Petrified Wood that has a "crystal" looking core.

Next was Blue Mesa Trail, which takes you through some bigger and nicer looking badlands.

I then checked out Puerco Pueblo. The ruins are interesting, but I thought the sun dial which was etched into a rock was pretty cool. The Pueblo people would use it in order to track the changing seasons so they knew when to plant crops. I didn't quite understand exactly how it worked, only that it was etched in the rock at a position where when the sun hit it, a "light shaft" is created that intersects a spiral at 9:00 AM.

The last hike I did was the Painted Desert Rim. The immediate area isn't very interesting, but the views of the wilderness area north of the trail is enticing. Sometime I would like to backpack the Wilderness Area north of the Painted Desert Visitor Center.
Crystal Forest Loop
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Petrified Forest NP
My girlfriend and I stayed the weekend in Pine, intending to take our first trip to Fossil Creek this day, but with a thunderstorm in the forecast, and the fact that it was already raining when we got up, we had to change our plans. We wanted to go somewhere we'd never been before, so we decided to check out the Petrified Forest. Random, I know, considering this is a good 2 hr drive from Pine, but I'm really glad we went. I didn't know much about what to expect from this place, but it was awesome! Didn't realize how big this place is and how much there is to see.

We came in from the south entrance. There were a lot of tourists but it didn't seem especially crowded, since it was a Monday. It was mostly clear when we got there, but we could see a big storm coming in from the south, and soon enough started hearing the thunder. We stopped at pretty much all of the major spots along the way through the park, and hiked all the short trails. The storm was getting closer and closer, and it started lightly raining on us on the Crystal Forest Loop.

By the time we got to the Jasper Forest overlook it started pouring on us, and the thunder was crashing right overhead. We had to get back in the car and wait it out for 20 minutes or so. Once the rain slowed down we continued up the road to the Agate Bridge. That was definitely a cool spot. With all the rain there was water flowing and actually a waterfall under the bridge. There was water flowing all over the park actually, which I'm sure was a sharp contrast to how this park normally looks.

We kept going up to Blue Mesa and that was probably my favorite spot of the day. The Blue Mesa Trail was a great, short hike. It was cool being able to actually go down into the little canyon. Like a lunar landscape down there. There were little streams of milky water flowing all over the place. Pretty much no one else down there with us.

Unfortunately we had to rush a bit by the time we got to Puerco Pueblo. It was already after 4pm and we had a 4 hr drive back home to Phoenix ahead of us. We still had time to stop at a couple of the Painted Desert vistas though. Beautiful. I would love to come back here again with more time for hiking. We stopped at the Falcon Cafe in Winslow for dinner on the way home. We'll never stop there again...

Great wildflower show, which I wasn't expecting. Blankets of flowers all over the place.
Crystal Forest Loop
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Went to the Petrified Forest/Painted Desert with the family. We also walked the Giant Logs loop, Long Logs loop and a portion of the Painted Desert Rim Trail. I could have hiked more but the wife and young kids were worned out, from what not sure:) I really wished I could have hike the Blue Mesa Trail, but I didn't want to keep the family waiting for me. Overall it was a fun trip.

Permit $$

Petrified Forest National Park
$20 per car (for 7 days), Bike/Walk-in $10 Petrified National Forest

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
The Crystal Forest trailhead is located 6 miles North the southern entrance to Petrified Forest along the main park road. The trailhead is well signed.
page created by rally_toad on Aug 16 2009 2:22 pm
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