Hiking is the easiest and only way to see Hovenweep’s impressive ancestral Puebloan structures. All of Hovenweep’s trails are designed around the structures, although most also offer sweeping views of the surrounding area and closer looks at Hovenweep’s geology and variety of plants.
Respect and Protect
(read more about Square Tower Group)
Paved Path to Canyon Overlook
Distance (round-trip): 0.32 miles / 600 yards / 0.5 kilometers
The sidewalk path to the Canyon Overlook starts at the visitor center and winds to the rim of Little Ruin Canyon. The Overlook provides scenic views of Little Ruin Canyon and several of the Square Tower Group structures as well as the surrounding landscape, including Sleeping Ute Mountain. Metal placards identify native plants along the way and signs at the Overlook discuss the structures. A trail guide (free) is available in the visitor center. From the Overlook, you can continue on the unpaved Square Tower Loop Trail.
Square Tower Loop Trail
Distance (round-trip): 2 miles / 3.2 kilometers
This trail begins at the Canyon Overlook and loops around Little Ruin Canyon. The loop trail is primitive, passing over slickrock and packed dirt, and is lined with rock. As you wind around the canyon, you pass within 5-10 feet of most of the Square Tower Group structures, allowing an uninterrupted and natural view of these architectural wonders. Part of the trail enters and exits the canyon to loop back to the Canyon Overlook, with steep elevation changes. A trail guide (free) is available in the visitor center. Tower Point section can be added to this trail. This trail can is also be broken into sections to allow for time or mobility constraints.
From the campground: A trail leads from the campground (across from the fee station) to the Square Tower Loop Trail. The trails meet on the north side of the canyon, between the canyon crossing and the Canyon Overlook. The campground connector trail adds 0.5 mile / 0.8 kilometer, round-trip.
Hovenweep Castle Hike (Out-and-Back)
Distance (round-trip): 0.82 miles / 1.32 kilometers
Hiking to Hovenweep Castle along the Square Tower Loop Trail allows you to see the structures of Square Tower Group (some from a distance) within a shorter hike and without much elevation change. From the Canyon Overlook, follow the primitive Square Tower Loop Trail to the right (west) to Hovenweep Castle. Stay to the right at any trail intersections. At Hovenweep Castle, hike a little past the castle to see Hovenweep House and Square Tower. Return the same way you came, staying to the left at trail intersections. Tower Point can be added to this trail.
Adding Tower Point to Your Hike
Distance Added: 0.32 mile / 0.5 kilometer
Tower Point is a small section of trail on the north side of the canyon, between the Overlook and Hovenweep Castle. You can add this section to the Square Tower Loop Trail or the Hovenweep Castle Hike. Tower Point is named for the remains of a tower at the point where a side canyon branches off of Little Ruin Canyon. Adding this section gives you a different perspective of Little Ruin Canyon and views of structures with Sleeping Ute Mountain in the background.
NOTE: The Cutthroat Unit is temporarily closed to entry.
Upper Trailhead to Cutthroat Castle (Out-and-Back)
Distance (round-trip): 1.34 miles / 2.16 kilometers
Lower Trailhead to Cutthroat Castle (Out-and-Back)
Distance (round-trip): 0.14 mile / 0.23 kilometer
read more about Horseshoe and Hackberry)
Horseshoe and Hackberry Trail (Out-and-Back)
Distance (round-trip): 1.44 miles / 2.32 kilometers
(read more about Holly)
Hiking at Holly (Out-and-Back hike from Holly parking area)
Distance (round-trip): 0.44 mile / 0.71 kilometer
Hiking to Holly (Out-and-Back hike from campground)
Distance (round-trip): 7 miles / 11 kilometers
(read more about Cajon)
Hiking at Cajon (Out-and-Back)
Distance (round-trip): 0.2 mile / 0.32 kilometer
Last updated: May 3, 2021