We missed this trail the first time we visited Chaco, but finally hiked it on our second visit. This trail is a bit quieter than the Pueblo Alto Trail. It has less in the way of ruins, but the trail itself is beautiful. Views into silent valleys and distant mesas are the finest rewards of this trail, at least for us. We returned to this trail on our 2006 trip as well for this reason.
On our original hike on the trail we had a small goal in mind. We told a ranger about a small piece of pottery we had seen, which I am sure he hears a lot about, but this was not something we were used to seeing and were thus excited about. He asked us if we saw fingerprints in the clay. Checking back at our photos of the pottery piece, alas revealed that we had not. On this hike we were on a mission to see and photograph the fingerprints of the person who made the pot hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
As you can tell by the photo above on the right that we did find a piece of pottery with fingerprints. We crossed our fingers that the prints would show up as it would probably be impossible to find it again. We lucked out!
The trail itself was not too strenuous. The first part is kind of steep, but once on top the hike is easy. After visiting the ruins, the trail lingers slowly around the mesa and then drops down quickly on to the valley floor. The trail finally connects with a dirt road that comes around to the Casa Rinconada site and parking lot.