Triceratops Trail: An Easy Colorado Hike in the Tracks of Dinosaurs
We always look for quick easy hiking trails. Honestly, we are not rugged hikers seeking the most challenging trails. We hike as a family, and easy is better for us. Trails with historic significance intrigue us. So. we happily took a morning to hike (really more walk) the one mile, mostly paved Triceratops Trail in Golden, Colorado.
The draw of Triceratops Trail was two-fold. We wanted a nice, easy walk on a pleasant spring day. And we wanted to see the tracks of triceratops and T-Rex preserved in stone over millennia. In addition to the dinosaur tracks, we saw palm fronds and other flora, insects, and even raindrops preserved in the sandstone in Golden.
Triceratops Trail is maintained and preserved by Dinosaur Ridge, a museum and historical site in nearby Morrison, Colorado. You can read all about our adventures at Dinosaur Ridge. The trail is a designated National Natural Landmark.
Getting to the Trail Head
Triceratops Trail is in Golden, Colorado. It is adjacent to the Colorado School of Mines. You can park your vehicle at the school of mines for a small fee and make your way to the trail. Makers clearly point to the trail head. The trail also abuts a golf course. Likely, you will see golfers and gold carts while on the trai
How Did the Tracks Get There
Denver and surrounding areas used to be under water. In fact, the area was a vast lake which dinosaurs used as a food and water source. Millions of years ago, the Rocky Mountains formed, pushing the sandstone and land into a vertical position. The formation preserved the tracks and bones of dinosaurs and other prehistoric life.
In the 1900s, clay miners uncovered the tracks and vertical sandstone slices. Today, as you walk the trail, you see and read about the clay mining in Golden.
The trail is 1.5 miles. There are a few stops reveal tracks and prehistoric flora. Trail markers and interpretive placards tell the story of the region and the dinosaurs that lived here.
The trail is partial on concrete, but mostly on gravel pathway. There is a slight upward incline reaching the top of a hill where you can look down on some of the sandstone slabs. The trail also includes a number of moderately steep steps leading down to the slabs with animal, raindrop, and vegetation impressions.
What You’ll See Along the Trail
This is a short trail, but there is a lot to see at the few designated stops along the way.
First, you can admire some of the regional wildflowers growing along the path. After a long wet winter, we found a number of wildflowers blooming.
In addition to the dinosaur tracks, we also saw raindrop impressions left in the sandstone.
Small insects also left there mark. Markers alert you of beetle prints.
Small animals burrowed and tunneled along the banks of the water. Now, you see those tunnels preserved through time.
And, we found the remnants of prehistoric vegetation. The most dramatic imprints were of palm frond. Yes, there once were palms in Colorado.
And, of course, the main attraction includes a number of dinosaur imprints left from animals millions of years ago.
Triceratops Trail is a fun, easy hike for a family visiting Golden, Colorado or the Denver area. Time required is about one hour to walk the trail and read all of the trail placards along the way. If your family wants to learn more about prehistoric Colorado, you should pair the hike with a visit to Dinosaur Ridge or The Morrison Natural History Museum a few miles away from the trail.
You Might Also Enjoy:
See amazing prehistoric insects and flora preserved at Florissant Fossils Beds National Monument in the Rocky Mountains.
See Colorado dinosaur fossils at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
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