Petrified Forest Loop Trail

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

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Petrified Forest Loop Trail

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  • View along the Petrified Forest Loop Trail.- Petrified Forest Loop Trail
  • Interpretive signage along the Petrified Forest Loop Trail.- Petrified Forest Loop Trail
  • Orange paintbrush (Castilleja integra) along the Petrified Forest Loop Trail.- Petrified Forest Loop Trail
  • - Petrified Forest Loop Trail
  • The "Big Stump" along the Petrified Forest Loop Trail.- Petrified Forest Loop Trail
  • Fossilized redwood tree stump along the Petrified Forest Loop Trail.- Petrified Forest Loop Trail
  • Narrow-leaf penstemon (Penstemon angustifolius) along the Petrified Forest Loop Trail.- Petrified Forest Loop Trail
  • Narrow-leaf penstemon (Penstemon angustifolius) along the Petrified Forest Loop Trail.- Petrified Forest Loop Trail
  • View north to the Hornbeck Homestead from the Petrified Forest Loop Trail.- Petrified Forest Loop Trail
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Overview + Weather
Pros: 
34-million-year-old petrified redwood stumps. Level and easy hike.
Cons: 
Sun exposure.
Region:
Southern Front Range, CO
Congestion: 
High
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required:
General Day Use Fee ($8.00)
Total Distance: 
1.00 mi (1.61 km)
Trailhead Elev.: 
8,400 ft (2,560 m)
Net Elev. Gain: 
30 ft (9 m)
Trail Uses:
Hiking
Trail type: 
Loop
Dogs allowed: 
No

Current Local Weather

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Today

Snow (1–4 in.) throughout the day.
26°F

Fri

Partly cloudy starting in the evening.
29°F

Sat

Clear throughout the day.
34°F

Sun

Breezy in the afternoon and light snow starting in the evening.
41°F
15°

Mon

Light snow (under 1 in.) throughout the day.
31°F
14°

Tue

Clear throughout the day.
39°F

Wed

Partly cloudy starting in the afternoon.
42°F
10°
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Hike Description

Hike Description

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Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is an overlooked destination west of Pikes Peak. It sees only around 70,000 visitors annually, and its open grasslands, historic buildings, and petrified redwoods are on full display along the Petrified Forest Loop Trail. Part of the park’s 14-mile trail system, the loop showcases the geological history of the Florissant Valley, which was an active volcanic region 35 million years ago.

During that era, the Guffey Volcanic complex dominated the geography of Florissant Fossil Beds, which at that time was covered in a lush redwood forest similar to those found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Ash deposits from eruptions of the Guffey Volcano created a large lake here, and cyclical volcanic activity trapped insect and plant life in sediments at the lake bottom. Among these were the redwoods; their root systems suffocated under layers of ash, the trees died and decayed, and the stumps were preserved under the ash layers. The fossilized remains can be seen today in petrified stumps throughout the park and as fossils trapped in thin layers of shale.

The Petrified Forest Loop passes many of these relics to the bygone era, including the “Big Stump,” one of many petrified stumps visible from the trail. A quiet and easy loop with minimal elevation gain, it traverses the open grasslands of Florissant Fossil Beds, offering interpretive signs detailing the history, geology, and ecology of the park in a signage series called the “Walk through Time.” Wildflowers speck the fields with color, including the paintbrush and penstemon. Hornbek Homestead, a monument to the park’s human legacy, is also visible from the trail.

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Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(5 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(18 within a 30 mile radius)

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