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Palo Duro - Givens, Spicer & Lowry Running Trail

Trail (4.09)11
(3.32) (3.23)
8.50 Miles 870 Feet
N/A No
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Canyon Randall
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Getting there: From the park entrance, drive down Park Road 5 into the canyon. Drive past the amphitheater and trading post. After the Old West Stables look for the next parking opportunity on the right, which should be just before the first water crossing.

The Hike: The Givens, Spicer & Lowry Running Trail is named for some of the people who are responsible for its creation. The original intention was to map out and create a trail of a specific length for use by the Palo Duro 50 trail run, which has been held since the mid-1980's. The race director's name is none other than Red Spicer. Don't let the "Running" moniker keep you away, hikers are welcome.

As the Sun comes up light strikes the red claystone slopes.
We started our hike at the waypoint "Trailhead". The start of the trail is vintage Palo Duro. The undulating terrain follows the edge of Timber Mesa, passing by steep and sometimes sheer slopes of red claystone, which sometimes break off to the touch. The trail surface is packed dirt and a bit of rock.

As the trail turns around the eastern edge of Timber Mesa and turns to the west you'll soon come into view of a solitary hoodoo high over the canyon. Hoodoos are formed when weathering erodes softer rock around a cap rock that protects the softer stone directly beneath it. Eventually a column is formed.

Coppertone pauses on the trail. If you look hard, you can see the Lighthouse formation off in the distance to the right. We'll be going there tomorrow.
Geological formations are not the only thing to see on the trail. On the trail we saw a laid back Collared Lizard and heard numerous turkeys. We were confident in our turkey call identification having just heard an example at a wildlife demonstration given by one of the park rangers the day before. Harvester Ants were very common on the trail, diligently returning to their colony with seeds.

Coppertone hikes through a gully under the watchful glare of a hoodoo overhead.
What you don't see in person you can usually see by way of evidence. The sometimes sandy soil on the trail leaves many tracks of the animals that have passed this way over the last few days. A fallen Cottonwood tree laying across the river might be a common enough sight, until you notice its gnawed base. A beaver, one of the first ones to appear in the park in decades, had moved through the area and was preparing to make a home. Unfortunately the close proximity of people may have caused the beaver to move on as the rangers report that they have as of late not detected any sign of him.

A strange collection of hoodoos could be seen from the trail.
At the waypoint "Junction" the trail comes to a "T" section. The trail to the left is known as the "Cottonwood Flats" trail and proceeds to join the Lighthouse Trail to the south. The trail to the right is the "Little Fox Canyon Trail". At this point we took a right.

Eventually the trail on the Little Fox Canyon Trail begins to get a bit overgrown. Obviously, this part of the trail does not receive as much traffic as the trails closer to the trailhead and maintenance has not been done as recently. Like on other hikes, you have to take the official park maps with a grain of salt. The map shows a short feeder trail leading into a large loop. But that is not what the trail really looks like. It's actually a long feeder trail with a small loop.

Coppertone hikes the trail. The red sandstone dominates the lower levels of the canyon.
A very small, but steep hill rises above the canyon floor at the waypoint "Petite Teton". A side trail snakes its way to the top providing an overlook of the canyon. To the west, on the edge of the rim one can see houses, more than you'll see from any other vantage point in the park, which is somewhat of a drag, but they are far enough away that some sense of solitude is still achieved. After all, you are miles away from the trailhead.

If you get the feeling that you are being watched by someone other than residents in the houses on the rim, you are. Someone has placed several plastic birds along the trail near the turnaround loop. A pink Flamingo perches on top of a small hill, an owl stares as you turn the corner.

A Collared Lizard was sunning himself near an overlook along the trail.
When reaching the turnaround point of the loop be sure to sign the hiking log book that resides in the metal box there. We then completed the small loop and retraced our steps back to the main running trail. To complete the mapping we hiked the Cottonwoods Flats trail that connects to the Lighthouse Trail and then doubled back all the way to the trailhead. Once again, take the park map with a grain of salt. The Cottonwood Flats trail on the official park maps looks longer than it is.

We saw quite a few people on the trail, but we were the only ones hiking. Everyone else was either running or biking. Our out and back totaled 8.65 miles, making it the longest hike that we were to take in Palo Duro. The first few miles of the trail are the most interesting. Leaving out the Cottonwood Flats and Little Fox Canyon Trail won't cut out much of the scenery or difficulty since most of the ups and downs occur early. As an out and back you can tailor this to your tastes.


GSLRT - Me! Nice views and many resting places (Photo by jmitchell) Lighthouse The famed Lighthouse formation from the back side. (Photo by jmitchell) GSLRT - not much shade but nice views GSLRT - not much shade but nice views (Photo by jmitchell)
GSLRT Interesting site along the trail. (Photo by rowdy) Afternoon rays Scenic view along the trail. (Photo by rowdy) Givens, Spicer & Lowry Running Trail Another unusual rock formation from he GSLRT. (Photo by rowdy)
Trailhead This is the start/end of the GSL trail. (Photo by Lone_Star) Beware Of Snakes This 5 foot long snake was blocking the trail. Fortunately, I was able to use my trekking pole to persuade it to flee. (Photo by Lone_Star) Interesting Rock Formations This is not the famous lighthouse formation, but a smaller, similar one along the GSL trail. (Photo by Lone_Star)
Natural Rock Sculptures This is another "Lighthouse-like" rock formation along the GSL trail. (Photo by Lone_Star) Beach Box This rest spot at the far end of the Fox Canyon Trail is an interesting spot where you can exercise your First Amendment rights by writing your thoughts in a register. Also, notice the gnome on the tree branch. :) (Photo by Lone_Star) Scenic Trail Next to the Lighthouse Trail, the GSL trail is one of the more scenic trails in the park. (Photo by Lone_Star)

Log Entries

Completing the loop
By rodavenport on 9/18/2014
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 8.50 Miles Duration: N/A

This hike I made is actually the running trail, the Little fox canyon trail and the Paseo del Rio trail . I strung all of these trails together to make a loop with the lighthouse trail to create one big loop. It was raining quite heavily the day I made this hike so I had the trails to myself. I never saw anybody until late in the day after the rain had quit. The solitude was very nice. The trail offers a lot of different prospectives of the canyon as you move around from point to point. I plan on making a trip back to spend some more time in the park.

Nice Multi-Use Trail With Scenic Views
By Lone_Star on 9/2/2013
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 8.31 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 52 minutes

This log covers the Givens, Spicer & Lowry (GSL) Trail and the Fox Canyon Trail loop.  These trails are multi-use trails and I encountered numerous mountain bikers and some runners while hiking the trail.

Both trails are very well marked with distance markers placed every 0.1 mile.  The GSL trail takes you past some beautiful rock formations and even provides a distant view of the Lighthouse rock formation.  It exceeded my expectations.  The Fox Canyon Trail is less scenic, in my opinion, is still a nice hike.

By Chinacareys on 4/7/2012
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 9.00 Miles Duration: N/A

Hiked the Givens, Spicer & LowryTrail, Little Fox Canyon trail and part of the Lighthouse trail.  Overcast, cool and a bit windy after the first two hours.  Overall a very enjoyable hike.  Saw a few runners and several bike riders but no other hikers.  Highly recommend this trail.  It is never as busy as the Lighthouse trail.

By Chinacareys on 12/4/2010
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 8.00 Miles Duration: N/A

OK this is now my favorate hike in Palo Duro Canyon State Park.  It was a beautiful day and I only saw a few bicycles and no other hikers.  The canyon and hoodoos were amazing.

Total Hikes in 2 days
By Tanr on 5/28/2009
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 20.00 Miles Duration: 24 minutes

CCC Trail at the top of the Canyon down into the Canyon & comes out by the Amphitheatre. Difficult but good! 4 miles round trip.

A combination of 3 trails made 12 miles throughout the lower canyon.

The Lighthouse Trail, by far, the highlight of the trip, we climbed all the way to the top of the other rock formation next to the Lighhouse about a 7' wall the scale to get to the very top. (4 miles round).

Always a Good Hike
By Craig Clotfelter on 5/26/2008
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 8.50 Miles Duration: 3 hours, 57 minutes

I've hit this trail several times now. It is always awesome. Although this late in the year it is getting a little hot for the unprepared. As it was Memorial Day weekend, a lot of people were out and about. I always get a chuckle because most folks don't come prepared and/or underappreciate the distance. For those who haven't hiked it before - there is NO WATER ON THE TRAIL. There is a creekbed, but unless you come during the rainy season, it is generally dry much of the time. I always get a chuckle because I always spot folks who bring no water or only one bottle. A good bit of the trail is out in the sun with minimal shade and part of which is also out of the wind. A four+ hour hike in temps over 90 degrees is a little much for most folks. I can't wait until July/August when it gets in the 100s. When you near the outer edge of the loop at the Lighthouse there is a bit of climbing up a steep 'staircase'. Some of the boards are a little loose. For those out of shape, take a breather before ascending. The view from the top is second to none. It is always worth it. Always bring a poncho/windbreaker just in case as well. You never know when a storm will come through and drop temps and add huge winds. I highly recommend this trail to those who haven't been there before, it is awesome. But don't go unprepared.

Enjoyable Hike
By rowdy on 2/22/2008
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 8.50 Miles Duration: 3 hours, 30 minutes

This trail gives you several options.  This trail is very similar in make up of the more popular Lighthouse trail.  You can even see the Lighthouse from a distance.  You will run into fewer people on this trail and can  adjust your route to suite your time and energy level.  If you want a shorter trail, you can turn around where the trail intersects with the Cottonwood flats and Little Fox loop.  The Little Fox adds an additional couple of miles and is a nice quiet addition.  If you take the Cottonwood flats trail you can head on over to the Lighthouse Trail.  The last quarter mile approach to the Lighthouse will get your heart pumping.  Overall, it is the trail is very enjoyable for an late morning and early afternoon hike with lots of options.

Another Beautiful Hike in PD
By jmitchell on 9/4/2007
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 13.00 Miles Duration: 6 hours

Givens, Spicer & Lowry Running/Lighthouse/Little Fox Canyon Loop 13 miles

I took the GSLRT and combined it with The Lighthouse and Little Fox Canyon Loop Trails for a total of 13 miles. Scenery was spectacular. Lighthouse was definitely worth the trek. Be sure to checkout around the formation itself as there are many places to explore. Little Fox Canyon Loop was an added bonus, all though not as spectacular as the rest, it was an enjoyable hike. All of the trails in PD park are nicely marked and have lots of picnic tables and resting benches placed along the trails. This hike has limited shade so if hiking it in the summer, make it a early or late day hike.

By ckf on 3/8/2007
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 6.00 Miles Duration: 4 hours, 30 minutes

A great hike for  both my canine and myself.  We both wore packs and carried our supplies.

By ckf on 3/8/2007
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 7.50 Miles Duration: 4 hours, 30 minutes

A great hike for  both my canine and myself.  We both wore packs and carried our supplies.

Only showing last 10 log entries. View All Log Entries

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