Picketwire Canyon Trail is a 16.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near La Junta, Colorado that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, horses, and mountain biking and is best used from January until January. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Trail highlights include the Dolores Mission and Cemetery, which was built between 1871 and 1889 by Mexican pioneers settling the valley. Partial remains of the Mission and Cemetery are still visible. This site is about 3.7 miles from the trailhead. The dinosaur tracks, the largest sample in United States are further down the trail 1.6 miles. To access the dinosaur tracks, you will need to cross the river so be careful. In Summary', the hike from the trailhead to the Mission is 3.7 miles, the Mission to the Dinosaur Tracks is 1.6 miles. Total round trip for the Dinosaur Tracks is 10.6 miles.
If you are doing this trail in the summer, camp at the trailhead and get an early start. This is a wide open space with little to no shade and it get hot once the noon day sun appears. I loved this trail for its trip through history. The dinosaur tracks are the icing on the cake, but you pass pre-Columbian petroglyphs, an old Spanish mission, and an early American homestead along the way. As other have said, bring plenty of water.
Did this in August 2016. Dinosaur footprints are unique. Hike is flat but 11 miles round trip from campground. Add another 5 if you don't have decent ground clearance vehicle because 2wd trailhead is 2.5 from campground trailhead. Decent descent into canyon is ONLY significant nonhorizontal hiking present. Take water or a filter. There is a source. The hike is a 2 or 3 but the uniqueness and relative difficulty makes it a 4 in my book.
awesome!!! great day, lots of history on the way
Did this one with a good friend early in the year - agree about not trying this in the middle of the summer as it can be brutally hot. Dino tracks are goal and well worth the hike. Along the way is an old Spanish mission ruins and cemetery. Interesting birding and plant life if you slow down to check it out...good trail-head to park at and a very cool and interesting hike overall.
The trail is primarily a jeep trail that takes you to the trail highlights, old homesteads, spanish mission, dinasour tracks. The tracks were fantastic. So was the mission. highlly rate this trail. Be careful about summertime temperatures, It can be brutal and very dangerous.
It is inaccurate to call this trail being mainly for mountain biking. The trail may be used by hikers, bikers and horseback riders. The primary attraction of the trail is travel to the famous dinosaur trackway - the largest of its kind in North America. Along the trail there are several sites with ancient petroglyphs, ruins dating from the 19th century and beautiful views of natural rock formations. The round trip from the trailhead to the dinosaur tracks is about 10.5 miles. Beyond those is a pretty rock arch right by the trail, and a bit farther on an obvious trail leads up to some petroglyphs. There are lots of 'glyphs along the route if you look in the right places.