hard hike - striking vistas of caprock canyon

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User: haggai - 3/13/2008

Location: Caprock Canyons - Upper Canyon Trail

Rating: 5stars
Difficulty: 4stars  Solitude: 5stars
Miles Hiked: 6.00 Miles  Elapsed Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes


This trail is almost a loop.  We were a large enough group hiking it that we left some cars at the starting point and some at the ending point, but it would only have been another mile or so hiking back to the starting point if we hadn't done so.

Who would have thought to find a place like Caprock (or nearby Palo Duro) in the middle of the flat Texas panhandle?  This hike takes you through some of the most beautiful and striking canyon lands in Texas.  Don't forget your camera on this hike and be prepared to take hundreds of photos, most of which will have a hard time doing justice to the stunning, rocky countryside. 

For that matter, wear your best hiking boots with both outer socks and sock liners.  And don't forget plenty of water and trail mix to keep you hydrated and energetic.  This is one of the most difficult hikes you are likely to do in Texas, so don't try it without being fully prepared.  The signs saying "No Water?  Turn Back" were our first warning that this was going to be difficult, but we soon found out for ourselves.

The first half of our hike was on the southwest portion of the trail, down in the canyon in brushy but pretty countryside with lots of little depressions worn by the creek.  Be sure to save your energy for the very difficult 600-foot ascent up to the top of the canyon.  We sat up at the top, enjoyed the stunning view, and had a well-earned lunch.  Then we went all the way back down to the canyon bottom to see the Fern Cave -- pretty, but the canyon is a hard act to follow.

Our only mistake of the hike was not climbing back up to the top of the canyon afterwards and then taking the Haynes Ridge Overlook Trail along the canyon rim back to civilization.  The top of the canyon is a lot cooler and windier than the bottom, so by the time we had finished hiking the northeast portion of the trail, we were all tired, hot, and running out of water, and the country in this portion of the trail gets a little repetitive.

But overall, despite the difficulty, this hike is well worth it, and I recommend it to anyone in good enough shape to hike it.

Area around Caprock Canyons - Upper Canyon Trail
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