The Giant Logs Trail is the second of two short hikes we took during our brief visit to Petrified Forest National Park. Located near the south entrance to the park, the trail is adjacent to the wonderful Rainbow Forest Museum which houses a fascinating variety of displays regarding the natural history of the area. The trail itself meanders for about a half-mile through, as its name suggests, some of the larger specimens of petrified wood in the park. The centerpiece of the path is a log named 'Old Faithful', a piece of petrified wood some 35-feet in length and measuring 10-feet across at its base. It's estimated that Old Faithful weighs in at around 44 tons! The colorful variety of 'wood' seen along this hike was also quite incredible, I would include this as a must-do hike if your visiting the park.
Petrified Forest National Park is located in northeastern Arizona and is home to a fantastic landscape marked by desert buttes, mesas, badlands, and of course huge concentrations of ancient petrified wood. The park encompasses some 146,000-acres (230 sq. mi.) and was originally established as a National Monument in 1906 through the Antiquities Act signed by President Theodore Roosevelt. Over the intervening years much of the parks infrastructure was built through the efforts of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Monument received National Park status in 1962.
Though rich in natural and cultural history, the main attraction of the park are the huge numbers of ancient petrified logs which literally cover the landscape in the southern sections of the park. These logs are actually fossils, remnants of trees which grew in the area some 225 million years ago. The cause of their formation is actually quite interesting. Back in the time in which the landscape here was covered in huge forests some of the trees fell in river channels and were subsequently buried in silica-rich sediments containing volcanic ash. Over the eons this silica ever so slowly replaced the organic materials contained in the logs and replaced them with quartz crystals containing numerous other trace elements resulting in what we call petrified wood. The colors of these preserved logs are a result of the types of the trace minerals which they contain. The bright reds, oranges, and yellows are primarily caused by concentrations of iron and manganese while blue and green wood is created by traces of cobalt, chromium, and copper.
So, come on along with us on a short but fascinating walk through a unique landscape of ancient beauty. It was a fitting conclusion to our visit of this amazingly unique National Park. As always...ENJOY!
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 34.815274, -109.865849
Mileage Hiked: 0.5 miles Hike Duration: 0:30
Trailhead Temp: 75'F Trail Traffic: 25-50 people
Min. Elevation: 5,380' Max. Elevation: 5,530'
Total Vertical Gain: 200'