Long Logs Loop, Rainbow Forest Museum Parking Lot, Petrified Forest National Park - Painted Desert, Arizona
Long Logs Loop - 1.55 miles
Rainbow Forest Museum Parking Lot
|Round-Trip Length:||1.55 miles (the trail follows a lollipop-loop course)|
|Start-End Elevation:||5,459' - 5,509' (5,509' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+50 net elevation gain (+93' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Long Logs Loop - 1.55 Miles Round-Trip
The Long Logs Trail circles one of the greatest concentrations of in-tact petrified logs in the Park. Trees over 100' long were stripped of their branches by ancient rivers and eventually came together within this vicinity.
225 million years ago, Petrified Forest National Park lay within a heavily wooded, tropical floodplain. Large coniferous trees - felled by age, wind, disease or insects - were swept downstream, eventually settling in and around riverbeds that once rushed through the Park.
Period flooding and erosion interspersed with volcanic activity from the south and west carried sediments and ash downstream, settling over fallen trees in the area. In some cases trees were buried quickly and deeply enough to deprive them of oxygen, thus significantly slowing the natural decomposition process.
Over time, ground water dissolved silica from volcanic ash into the porous body of fallen, buried trees. This solution formed quartz crystals that filled hollows and cracks in the logs, eventually 'petrifying' them by encasing and replacing the trees' organic material with minerals.
The wood's brilliant colors come from impurities in the quartz, such as iron, carbon, and manganese.
To reach the Long Logs Loop, follow the sign and road leading out of the Rainbow Forest Museum Parking Lot to the Long Logs Trail access (.1 miles away).
En route you'll cross over Jim Camp Wash.
The Long Logs Trail officially begins at the marked cement gateway on the east side of Jim Camp Wash (interchangeably recognized as the Agate House Trail).
A paved trail rises gently through petrified wood remains, badland formations, and small brush to a cul de sac from which 2 spur trails emanate: both of these are labeled as the Long Logs Trail.
The second spur trail off to the left - which is well marked - is the beginning of the Long Logs Loop (5,482').
The following description follows the loop counterclockwise:
The trail climbs momentarily to its high point at an area-information post, then dips and rolls through attractive open space framed by colorful badland formations.
Within the loop are countless intact remains of petrified trees that lend perspective to their original size, and of the widespread ancient forests that once dominated the landscape.
The loop continues with ease back to the paved cul de sac.
If time permits, consider hiking to the Agate House, a unique pueblo built of petrified wood. This is .45 miles (one way) from the cul de sac.
- N34 48.901 W109 51.950 — 0.0 Miles: Rainbow Forest Parking Area
- Petrified wood is mostly quartz. The physical characteristics of cylindrical quartz cause it to break cleanly when stressed, resulting in the lengthy symmetrical segments we see on this trail.
- Petrified wood in the Petrified Forest National Park is almost solid quartz, weighing on average between 150-180 pounds per cubic foot. It's so hard, you can only cut it with a diamond tipped saw.
- Iron Oxides give the wood its distinctive red, yellow and orange hues.
- Carbonized organic compounds and residues yield black, tan and brown tones.
- Confusing to some is the visible connector trail that connects the Long Logs Loop Trail with the Agate House Trail at their approximate mid-points. This connector trail is intended as a short cut for visitors seeking the shortest route for hiking both trails. Nominal elevation changes and distances make this short cut unnecessary, though it is a viable option.
- Be cognizant of threatening skies, as storms can move in quickly and lightning strikes are common, especially during August monsoons.
- Shortgrass prairies and pockets of high desert ecosystems cover a majority of the Park. The Park's ecological environment is technically classified as an Intermountain Basin, Semi-Desert Shrub Steppe and Grassland.
Rules and Regulations
- Collection of plants, rocks, petrified wood, fossils, archeological objects or other materials is illegal anywhere in the park. Rules are strictly enforced and violators are subject to significant penalties.
- Pets are permitted on maintained trails, but must be kept on a leash at all times. Pets are not allowed within Wilderness Areas, nor on the Wilderness Access Trail near The Painted Desert Inn. Pets are not allowed in buildings unless they are service animals.
Directions to Trailhead
From the Park's north entrance station, follow Park Road 26 miles to the Rainbow Forest Museum Parking Lot (west side of road).
Form the Park's south entrance station, follow Park Road 2 miles to the Rainbow Forest Museum Parking Lot.
Travel by foot east - out of the parking lot - over the Jim Camp Wash Bridge. The trailhead is located just over the bridge.
Petrified Forest National Park
1 Park Road
P.O. Box 2217
Petrified Forest, AZ 86028
928 524.3567 (fax)