These two trails can be done separately, but the Sound of Silence Trail links up with the Desert Voices Nature Trail in Dinosaur National Monument for a beautiful morning or evening desert hike. For its length you get to really enjoy the topography of the area as the hike takes you through a wash bed and up into the red hills and you even end with some slick rock scrambling. The trails also include informational and education plaques and, personally, I have never seen more reflective and intentional trail narration - kudos to Dinosaur for actually making people think.
We hiked the Sound of Silence Trail clockwise and the first section follows a wash bed through low-lying scrubs. As the trail cuts west, you find yourself at the bottom of a twisty-turning little canyon where the wash has really cut away and you get to look up at all the rock formations including the largest, Split Mountain. This section has some pretty tight sections where two people definitely cannot hike side-by-side. As the trail turns east you come out of the wash and gain some elevation and great views of the geological features. As I mentioned in the overview section up top, the trail is marked with numerous informational and educational plaques so our rock-geek-selves really enjoyed learning about the different layers exposed and how much the landscape has changed (this whole area is sedimentary).
About 2-miles into the hike a 1/4-mile connector links the Sound of Silence Trail to the Desert Voices Trail which adds another 1.5 miles and loops back to the connector so you can finish Sound of Silence. The Desert Voices Trail takes you up the side of the canyon to the east and gives you some more height (you continue looping south and then west back to Sound of Silence). The trail markers on this section are the ones I really want to highlight. They not only include interesting information on the flora, fauna, and natural formations, but they took it to a whole new level and included on-going questioning about local economical and ecological issues, water use, land rights, ranching, and invasive species. My husband and I usually get into philosophical conversations when we hike, but we have never had the trail markers start prompting discussions. It was quite the unexpected treat and we kept talking about things long after the hike was over.
When you connect back to the Sound of Silence Trail the last section takes you to the south and you get a taste of what they mean by "slick rock." We hike with poles (I have Leki trekking poles) so we did not have to scramble much, but there were some steep sections. You leave the sandstone and drop down back into the wash area from the beginning and into the sagebrush to end out your hike.
The elevation gains on this hike were not very extreme for us, but this is desert hiking, so bring plenty of water. We did this hike in the summer, so we would recommend an early start or wait until the evening as the majority of the trail is exposed. The trail is open year-round though. While the rocks and colors were enough for us, I did want to note that we did not see much wildlife (unless you count lizards).
- CamelBak w/ water (I have a 2-liter pack and my husband has a 3-liter pack and we were both almost out by the end)
- hiking shoes or boots (I prefer to hike in my trail running shoes, but this hike involves uneven rocky surfaces and slick sections, so wear what you need to be comfortable and safe)
- breathable clothing (it was hot in the summer even though we started early)
- trekking poles (I never hike without mine)
- hat (it's a very exposed trail)