Caprock Canyon State Park Eagle Point Trail

I was back for the third time at Caprock Canyon State Park.  I wanted to hike two different trails that I did not get to the first time I was here.  First, Eagle Point Trail is a two mile out and back trail that goes to the natural tunnel and bridge.

I got on the trail later than expected due to the 100+ degree temperature.  The temperature never went down too much but it was a dry desert heat.  Hiking here was much different than hiking in the hill country which was very humid.  Although the temperature was hotter in the panhandle of Texas, I did not sweat as much as I did in the south of Texas.  The trails were not occupied by people but the bison rerouted me twice. I started down Eagle Point Trail and about a half mile in a bison was camped out around one of the corners.  I decided that the bison could have the trail and back tracked to the trailhead. 20190717_190525.jpgMy friend peeking around the corner.

I started my second attempt on the trail from the other trailhead.  The views were impressive as usual.  This place is so large that you could hike for days and see something different each day.  20190717_192700.jpgStart of the other trailhead.20190717_192845.jpgHere I go again.20190717_193352.jpgThe natural bridge and tunnel area with my shadow.20190717_200557.jpgSun setting in the canyon20190717_201509.jpgFavorite picture of the day20190717_203358.jpgI am in a ditch trying to avoid another bison.  I was a half mile from the trailhead again.20190717_190050.jpgFirst time seeing a horned toad this big.

I miss this park already.

Caprock Canyon State Park

I had another great time in a Texas canyon. I did get caught out on the trail low on water. The temperature rose fairly quick and I had to backtrack on a trail that added an additional mile plus. The park is located about two hours southeast of Amarillo. Caprock Canyon State Park has a different look from Palo Duro Canyon and the Grand Canyon. Caprock Canyon does not have a flat top look around the rim of the canyon. The rim is more jagged and uneven than the other two. I was once again amazed at the vastness of the canyon. I would need several trips to the canyon to see half of what I want to see. I did not see any buffalo but I did not realize it. I did not see the natural bridge and I want to see it the next time I visit. I also did not get to walk the rim but that is something I will also need to work on. I hiked the Canyon Loop Trail and the Upper Canyon Trail at the North Prong part of the canyon. I was going to also hike the Haynes Ridge Overlook Trail but that is where my problems started. The trail was literally straight up which was not a problem. It also had a small rock hole opening to get to the rim. I am to big to try to squeeze through an opening that small. I had to backtrack and try the other side of the trail. It was also extremely steep and I was already running low on water. I decided I would have to try at a different time. I still loved seeing all the geologic rock formations. The reds were also deeper and darker that Palo Duro Canyon. I did get to see the Last Dance hoodoo which is a popular sight at the park. I was also fascinated by the white crystal bands in the red rocks.20171220_124257.jpg20171220_122604.jpg20171220_124508.jpg20171220_124758.jpg20171220_133003.jpg20171220_133705.jpg

I cannot wait to get another chance to get back to this park. I will make the effort to see the natural bridge, the buffalo and get to the rim.

This hike was also the 6th hike of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. As of now I have no hikes planned. I do have some state parks I want to go to this year. I will blog about those parks and my 52 Hike Challenge plan for 2018.

2017 My Top 10 Places Hiked

My last blog of the year is a review of the best places I have hiked this year. I was going to do a list of top ten hikes but I could not narrow it down to a good twenty. Plus the order would change as I was thinking about which hike should be placed on the list. I decided on places because it was easier but not easy. The top ten was not too difficult but the order was very hard. I did about 60 hikes this calendar year and they were spread out the entire twelve months. I had to compare the recent fresh in my mind place with a place that was hiked ten to eleven months ago. The ten places I have chosen, I have or will hike multiple times. Two places I have hiked but not blogged about yet. The ten places cover three states, a national park and a wildlife refuge.

10. Cedar Ridge Preserve-Minutes away from home and is one of the most scenic areas in Dallas County. hike2220171124_121348.jpg

9. Hot Springs National Park-This quaint cozy park has some great views. 20171112_103833.jpg20171112_103709.jpg

8. Pedernales Falls State Park-The Texas hill country is all over this list.20170406_131314.jpg20170122_130731.jpg

7. Pinnacle Mountain State Park-The second Arkansas park and a summit hike.20171111_141701.jpg20171111_082716.jpg

6. Enchanted Rock SNA-The park is more than The Rock. Hidden gems everywhere.20170406_092524.jpg20170122_102656.jpg

5. Lost Maples SNA-A nature made amphitheater with great trees, waterfalls and views.20170711_182026.jpg20170712_160931.jpg

4. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge-This place has everything. Summits and waterfalls.20171208_162255.jpg20171001_111717.jpg

3. Caprock Canyon State Park-Home of the official bison herd of Texas. Plus canyon views.20171220_124508.jpg20171220_122602.jpg

2. Colorado Bend State Park-Gorman Falls is amazing but that is just the start.20170405_143431.jpg20170405_134311.jpg

1. Palo Duro Canyon State Park-The second largest canyon in the USA.20171220_082257.jpg20171219_144321.jpg

These top ten places that I have hiked in 2017 maed this a memorable and fantastic year. Next year I hope to have a totally different list of places.

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

I heard about this place on a random search for a place to run a trail race. I did not find a trail race but did find a quarter marathon race. I signed up for the race and did some research on the area around Lawton, OK. I found that the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was minutes away and has some great hiking. I did not realize is that I was doing a 10K trail race the day before the quarter marathon race. My schedule was to wake up early Saturday and run a 10K trail race then drive three and half hours to Lawton, OK and hike in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. On Sunday, wake up early again and run a quarter marathon and then hike the Wichita Wildlife Refuge again and then make the return drive back home. I packed in a bunch of miles in one weekend. A total of 13 miles running and eight miles of hiking.

I love this place. I got to see bison and longhorns. Bison are the biggest animals I have ever seen. The mountains are beautiful and there are so many places to see and trails to hike. I had seven trails I wanted to hike. I settled on completing two and partial hiking two others. I got to summit a small mountain and walk across a dam. I did some bouldering and saw many small and large waterfalls. I hiked on grasslands and forest like areas. I met many friendly people and a copperhead snake.

On Saturday, I hiked the Kite Trail and Little Baldy Mountain. I saw the bison on this day on the way between the trails. Kite Trail ran along Lost Lake and large creek. I did most of my bouldering and waterfall watching on this trail.20170930_163839.jpg20170930_164242.jpg20170930_165904.jpg20170930_164500.jpg20170930_170451.jpg20170930_170058.jpg20170930_170617.jpg20170930_180254.jpg

There were so many more pictures but these were the ones I chose. The next hike was the summit of Little Baldy Mountain and a walk across a dam. This was the shortest of the four hikes but had the most elevation change. I also got lost several times on this hike and the previous hike. The trails were not marked at all as I found out. I had to talk to many people just to get to and stay on the correct trail.20170930_181958.jpg20170930_181900.jpg20170930_182743.jpg20170930_182311.jpg20170930_183749.jpg20170930_183746.jpg20170930_185522.jpg20170930_185648.jpg

I saw some cool balancing rock formations on both of these hikes. I wanted to get another hike in that day but I ran out of sunlight.

I will continue my Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge blog next with the second day of running and more hiking.