Experience 225 million-year-old trees on the best hikes in Petrified Forest National Park!
The Petrified Forest has long served as a popular tourist attraction for travelers passing through Arizona. First as a national monument for motorists on the historic Route 66 and now as a national park for road trippers on Interstate 40, this quick jaunt off the interstate offers a smorgasbord of short hikes for a fantastic break from the doldrums of long-distance driving.
The park is named for its collection of ancient fossilized trees, most of which are about 225 million years old. These trees lived in the Late Triassic Epoch, and "the sediments containing the fossil logs are part of the widespread and colorful Chinle Formation, from which the Painted Desert gets its name," according to Wikipedia. The best hikes to view high densities of these fossilized trees include the Giant Logs Trail in Jasper Forest, the Crystal Forest, and the Long Logs trail.
If you hike the Long Logs trail, you can also extend your hike to visit the Agate House. The Agate House was inhabited about 700 years ago, with the native inhabitants entering the stone building through the roof. This area has a long history of human habitation, dating back at least 8,000 years. According to Wikipedia, "by about 2,000 years ago, they were growing corn in the area and shortly thereafter building pit houses in what would become the park." The Agate House is a later above-ground type of pueblo construction.
Other top hikes in the park include Blue Mesa, which offers both petrified logs and a stunning array of tall bluish bentonite clay hills that are particularly beautiful at sunrise and sunset. Finally, the Painted Desert hike differs from the others by providing access to a desert wilderness filled with beautiful red, purple, and blue hills.