Abiquiu is a beautiful and remote area of New Mexico, full of hidden gems like the Petroglyph Trail.
As you walk along the arroyo (a dry river bed) you’ll see breathtaking views of red and yellow sandstone that have been molded with time and water. In one location on the trail, you’ll find a rock that is covered in petroglyphs. I’m not sure how old they are, but it was fun to find (and hard to find!). We had pretty much given up by the time we found it – ha!
- Total Miles: 3.41 miles (round trip, but it depends greatly white route you choose)
- Elevation Gain: 568 ft
- Max Elevation: 6,469 ft
- Time to Hike: 2+ hrs (for a leisurely hike)
How To Get There
Simply Google “petroglyph trail abiquiu)” and it will take you to the All Trails webpage for the trail which they title “Petroglyph Rock Loop Via Crystal Bypass.” Click here for the link.
It’s not easy to find the trailhead. In fact, the entirety of the trail is difficult to find and stay on – just a warning.
Driving to the Trail
Drive through Abiquiu, heading west on HWY 84. You’ll pass an elementary school on the right. In a few miles you’ll come to a bridge that crosses a dry arroyo. There is a skinny dirt road that turns northbound right before the bridge. It goes through a barbed wire fence with 2 wooden posts that allow you access on the road. (If you get to the big bend in the road where you’re climbing onto a plateau, then you’ve gone too far.) Drive until you see the road loop on itself into a circle round about. Park there.
The trail is VERY difficult to find. Our strategy was to walk up the arroyo and enjoy all the beautiful red and yellow sandstone. A hundred yards or so before the arroyo is blocked by a small canyon wall, you’ll see the trail go off to the left. Keep an eye for the trail jutting off. Once you enjoy the beautiful canyon that was clearly waterfall at some point in time, go back and find the trail that goes to the left.
The trail will follow the west side of the arroyo for a bit, then it will open up into a larger canyon. Again, you’ll easily loose the trail here. Try to find it as best as you can. It will climb up into the hills going left. The key here is to climb up and head back toward the parking area. When you’re almost to the top of the hill, you’ll see a faint, skinny trail. The petroglyph rock is along that trail at the top (ish) of the hill.
The trail is very poorly marked, but because of that, you’ll also enjoy a hike completely to yourself and with very few traces of human activity! Also, given that it’s a desert, if you climb high enough, you’ll be able to see you car (or the highway) and hike back to it, regardless of the presence of a trail.
View Points You Can Expect Along the Trail
Honestly, this may be one of the prettiest hikes I’ve ever experiences (and I’ve been on a lot!). The red and yellow sandstone walls of the arroyo are breathtaking. I’d suggest taking a picnic lunch and simply sitting and enjoying the viewe.
We hiked it mid-day in the winter and it was perfect – warm enough to not need heavy coats, but still cool enough to keep us from sweating too much and over heating. I can imagine that it would be very hot in the summer months, so you’ll probably want to hike it in the morning or evening.
Also, be sure to take lots of water and food. It’s easy to get off the trail and you want to be prepared just in case you spend more time out there than you expected.
Animals You May See Along the Trail
- American Crow
The desert is a great place to find insects, especially true bugs! If you and your kids would like to learn more about true bugs, you can download our lesson here.
Plants You Will See Along the Trail
This trail is characterized by typical desert plants – juniper, prickly pear, creosote, grasses, and the like.
Other Great Trails to Hike
In the Sandia Mountains of New Mexico: