Added by Jared Blitz
Getting away from the normal trails and into the middle of the Petrified Forest
Although short, the Blue Forest Trail is one of the most unexpectedly coolest hikes I've been on. It's kind of strange to hike in what used to be a dense forest/swamp area that is now a barren desert full of petrified wood.
Parking for this trail is just north of the Blue Mesa Loop in a pullout near the Tepees. There is an old gravel road that you follow on foot until you find the trail. From here on out you follow the path into the middle of the desert. Sometimes it is hard to find, but the park uses the same gravel you initially walked on to show you the way. It's a bit of a "follow the yellow brick road" situation. The trail is riddled with huge logs of petrified trees, but just as fascinating is all of the little pieces of petrified wood that fill the desert, as well as the various colors in the geology of the Badlands you're walking through. The park states you're exploring through 3 million years of history just in the short hike.
The trail ends when you reach the paved Blue Mesa Trail. You can either hitchhike from this point or walk the 1.2 miles back the way you came, which I recommend. Seeing it all over again from a different direction feels like a different hike.
I would definitely recommend hiking boots since you're hiking along the ridgeline of the hills many times. While I never felt like I would fall to my death, there are some sections that are terribly narrow and it's easy to slip, possibly sliding down the hillside.
Since you are off the beaten path it is wise to stop in at the visitor center to get photos of the directions for the hike. Or you can print them out here: https://www.nps.gov/pefo/uploa...
Some navigation is required but it's pretty simple. I went alone and didn't have any trouble. However, if you're inexperienced I would recommend a partner, especially if you're hiking in the summer. You'll find yourself completely exposed to the heat in the middle of the desert. That can be a scary feeling if you start to struggle with the heat. Even though it's short make sure you bring plenty of water.
- Hiking boots
- Day pack
- Long sleeves
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Spring, Summer, Autumn
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