15 May 2017

Hickison Petroglyphs Interpretive Trail

Hickison Petroglyphs Recreation Area (BLM)

Click for map.

The historic marker at the top of Hickison Summit on US-50 told me about the petroglyphs nearby, but the giant sign with "Petroglyphs" in very oversized letters would have probably been enough to get me to turn. My planning, such as it was, had focused on wilderness areas in the National Forest rather than spots the Bureau of Land Management thought were worth emphasizing. It is a nice surprise. There are no brochures in the box for the self guided tour and I cannot find an online copy, so I could not learn as much as I might like, but the numbers for the brochure will help call out where to look for the petroglyphs. There is a rough map showing the short loop. Even with the spur to see the view, it is less than a mile. All the trails seem to be marked as accessible, but they are not paved.

rock face through the trees
As with the pictographs, a bit of rock cropping up between the trees is a signal the destination is close. Here it is just a lot closer to the parking.

The trail is wide and fairly flat, but the packed surface has a bit of gravel over the top. The upward slope is fairly easy. It may be handicapped accessible to some as it reaches the rocks with the first grouping of petroglyphs. It is a series of panels along somewhat sheltered rocks. Each is distinctively different.

thin lines in desert vanish
Hundreds of thin lines cut through the desert varnish at the first panel.

deeper carving tucked away
Some deeper carvings are tucked away inside a small alcove.

circles and squares
A deeper carving than that in the desert varnish, but more elaborate than the previous deeper one.

more thick carvings on large, flat panel
A large crack where one part has fallen away makes the surface for a panel that faces the others. This one even has deep holes carved.

The trail climbs further upward, continuing at a gentle slope, to the spur with a view. I take it, of course.

low growing carpet of flower
The bit of spring for today looks like a prickly phlox or some relative.

another outcrop
There are more rocks up here, but no indication of more petroglyphs among them.

packed trail on the way out
Getting to the view.

There is a lumpy little peak beside where the trail ends. Many people have been up it for the few feet advantage it offers over the flat and I seem to follow them. It is only a slight thing, but it does improve the view.

Big Smoky Valley
Looking back to the Big Smoky Valley.

expansive view
Range and basin and range again while looking southerly.

looking back at the rocks and bump
Looking back to the rocky saddle where the petroglyphs rest.

Returning and continuing around the loop, there is another trail that heads off. This one was not indicated on the sign at the start, but there was clearly a trail up the peak on the north side of the saddle, so it might be that. Past this, the trail becomes narrow and rocky as it gets in close to the next grouping of petroglyphs. Here is is definitely not accessible.

more carved cliff
A rocky trail as it passes by more carvings.

The rocky trail does not stay near the cliff for very long. It winds down to the third grouping of petroglyphs. This is a rock that stands out on its own and is carved on all sides.

many deep carved elements on desert varnish
One flat section has almost lost all its desert varnish to the workings upon it.

curves in desert varnish
Another panel shows windings through the desert varnish.

The trail back to the parking lot from the stand alone rock is similar to the first part of the trail and may be handicapped accessible again. There is another trail traveling north past the rock that is not described on the crude map at the start. There is no sign for it, but it looks well used.

stand alone rock in wooden barrier
Looking back at the carved rock standing on its own.

©2017 Valerie Norton
Posted 27 May 2017

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