Type of trail: A self-guided loop nature trail
Distance: 0.25 mile
Elevation change: None
Hiking time: 30 to 45 minutes
Maps: Harpers Corner Trail Guide, available at the visitor center; National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map #220
Starting point: Plug Hat Trail and the picnic area are 4.3 miles from the Canyon visitor center up the Harpers Corner Scenic Drive in Colorado. Park at the picnic area on your left. The Canyon visitor center is located 25 miles east of Jensen, Utah, on U.S. Highway 40.
Before walking the Plug Hat Trail, take a short stroll past the picnic tables to the rim; you’ll be treated to the sights of the Colorado Plateau. Rainbow-colored rocks (derived from iron, manganese, and other elements) abound, as well as mesas and buttes. The angles of the bedrock here are interesting; they don’t change overly much due to lack of rain and soil cover.
In the distance you’ll see the Morrison Formation (about 148 million years old), famous for its hidden secrets—the Jurassic period fossil bones of the great Brontosaurus, smaller dinosaurs, mammals, and amphibians that once thrived here. (You’ll need to visit the Douglass Dinosaur Quarry to view the bones that have been uncovered so far.)
Now cross the road and walk the easy Plug Hat Trail, where you’ll be introduced to a pinon-juniper forest. From this vantage you’ll also be rewarded with an all-encompassing view of the Uinta Basin.