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Triceratops Trail at Parfet Prehistoric Preserve

Triceratops Trail is a 1.5-mile, gravel hiking trail located one block east of 6th Avenue and 19th Street in Golden, Colorado. The trail winds between large, vertical walls of sandstone and into reclaimed clay pits. The hike should take around an hour round trip and involve a few places difficult/impossible for elderly and/or handicapped persons to access.

Along the trail are several stops highlighting clay mining and dinosaur, bird, mammal, insect, and invertebrate tracks and traces, as well as several walls full of plant impressions from the tree-lined delta-like environment.

The Footprints
The footprints at Triceratops Trail differ from those at Dinosaur Ridge. The Dinosaur Ridge tracks are roughly 100 million years old, and you view them from the top – as in where the animal pushed into the sediment. We call these positive tracks, a.k.a. innies. 

Triceratops Trail features tracks that are around 68 million years old and are what we call negative tracks, or outies. These tracks, viewed in 3D from the bottom, formed when the animal stepped in the mud, which was then filled with sand, forming a natural cast, and then tilted vertical by the uplift of the Rocky Mountains. These processes left the tracks sticking out from the wall since that original layer of mud (turned clay) was mined away, and the sandstone cast is all that is left behind.

Footprints of at least four different types of dinosaurs (a possible Tyrannosaurus rex, possible Edmontosaurus, and Triceratops included), two types of birds, a mammal, and a beetle are seen on the sandstone walls along the trail. Many of these tracks, when discovered, were firsts – those from the Triceratops, the mammal, and the beetle.

The Plants
Triceratops Trail is a preserved ecological experience. A swampy, delta-like environment of one age (68 million years old) was preserved for all to see, and is filled with plant fossils.

See impressions of palm fronds, blade-leafed monocots, and ginger-like herbs. Deciduous (cyclical) trees were abundant as seasons began to emerge. Then, Colorado was semi-tropical, like Florida or parts of South America, and the evidence of this is found in the plant fossils at Triceratops Trail.

Click here for a map to Triceratops Trail.

*Volunteers needed!  Check out the volunteer information!

 

 

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