Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
Loop
Distance
1.00 mi (1.61 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

General Day Use Fee

Pros

34-million-year-old petrified redwood stumps. Level and easy hike.

Cons

Sun exposure.

Trailhead Elevation

8,400.00 ft (2,560.32 m)

Net Elevation Gain

30.00 ft (9.14 m)

Features

Big vistas
Wildflowers
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.