“A quick lollipop loop with hundreds of petroglyphs.”
— Jennifer Holik
The north side of the loop follows the volcanic escarpment where up to 300 petroglyphs can be viewed.
Need to Know
As with any desert run, take plenty of water. There is no water available anywhere along the trail or at the parking lot. Biking is not permitted on the trail. Bring binocular to view some of the more distant petroglyphs, though this is not necessary for viewing.
Trailhead parking is located on Unser Blvd NW, at the junction with St. Joseph Ave. Parking and trail use are free but the gates close at 5pm. Be sure to park outside the gate if planning to run after 5!
From the parking lot, head through the trail entrance and follow the sandy trail until you come to a fork in the path. This fork is clearly marked with a sign. Head to the right to follow the escarpment and view petroglyphs all along the northern part of the trail. There are a number of informational signs explaining the history and meaning behind the petroglyphs (when known).
Continue along the trail until it loops around and eventually moves away from the edge of the canyon. This southern part of the trail is much more level than the northern half and makes for an easy and relaxing return back to the parking lot.
History & Background
It is believed that the volcanoes in the area last erupted some 200,000 years ago. At that time, lava flowed from a fissure three miles west of this canyon. When the sand beneath eroded, the rocks tumbled down and created the escarpment where the petroglyphs were carved between 400 to 700 years ago.