Caprock Canyons State Park is a wonderful treasure in the Texas State Park system. The plains house the official state buffalo heard, the very descendants of the herd legendary rancher Charles Goodnight saved so many years ago, and was paramount in keeping these majestic creatures from extinction. There are many trails offered here, from leisurely to strenuous or challenging. I needed a little get-away, so I opted to drive out here to enjoy the trails. Everywhere else in Texas was expecting rain the whole time, and I wanted to get outdoors!
When you arrive, be sure to ask the ranger for the Trail Map along with the regular map they give you. Or you can down load one from their website. This will help you plan what trails you want to hike ahead of time. I love the Texas State Parks Trail Maps. They are very colorful and have Points of Interest marked with GPS coordinates. They also list the trails with distance, a time estimate to hike them, how difficult they are to hike, and a brief description.
While I was there, I did not hike all the trails. Most of the trails were a muddy mess. The area had had more rain than normal, and things just hadn’t dried out yet. Some of the Canyon Loop Trail was boggy, making hiking difficult and my boots weigh twice as much as normal. Part of the trail goes through the stream, which had water in it. Luckily, it wasn’t too much to soak my feet or make walking difficult. I tried to walk on rocks sticking up out of the water where I could. Some of the trail had washed out in the rains, but not too much you couldn’t find it. The ranger had told me that part of the Upper Canyon Trail by the South Prong Camping Area had washed out; it normally does. So I avoided going that way.
Always ask the rangers about trail conditions before setting out, especially in the rainy season.
My trek was mostly flat the first mile or so. I was happy there is an outhouse at the primitive campground on the way. I highly recommend stopping here, as there are no other pit toilets along the way. It was in good condition. I was surprised.
At the junction of the Canyon Loop (Trail D) and Upper Canyon (Trail C) trails, I turned left onto the Upper Canyon Trail. The ranger had said the Lower Canyon Trail to the right was a boggy mess and there was a crossing that was bad. If the trail I had just come down was muddy, I can only wonder how bad that trail was!
Going this way leads to some of the scenic spots in the park including The Last Dance hoodoo, though it is best seen coming from the other way. Turn around so you don’t miss it!
Another interesting spot is Fern Cave. The terrain here keeps it damp. It is an unlikely spot in this arid climate, and a great spot for a rest. There is a little bit of rock scrambling to get down into the area, so watch your footing. The water here is clear and cool.
From here, there is some more rock scrambling to get to the top of the hill. Be sure to keep look out for hikers coming down.
From here I took the Hayes Ridge Overlook Trail which is 2 miles, and for hikers only. This is a nice peaceful hike. It is mostly flat land and has some shade from the surrounding trees. It is really pretty along this trail.
The views from the overlook are impressive.
You can see the parking lot where you started from here.
Now from here, it got a little tricky. At times I wondered if there was a trail at all. I felt like I was scurrying down a steep cliff. I was more focused on getting down alive, than taking pictures. If you are not up to the challenge, then turn around and go back. it will take longer, but it might be worth it.
I also hiked the Canyon Rim Trail (Trail I). This is an easy leisurely trail along the canyon by the Honey Flat Camping Area. On one side is the canyon. On the other is the flat plains. This was a nice hike in the evening.
The other trail I hiked was the Eagle Point Trail (Trail J). I only hiked it to the Natural Bridge because it was muddy and hard to hike down. Plus it looked like it might rain, so I didn’t want to get caught in it.
- Always check in with a ranger to inquirer about trail conditions. It is wise to know when and where trails are out, or unsafe for passage. It might save you time backtracking, and it might just save your life!
- Take plenty of water. This is semiarid area, and you will quickly lose fluids. A quart of water per hour of activity is recommended by the park.
- Tell someone where you will be and when you plan to return.
- Protect yourself from the sun with a hat, sunscreen and appropriate clothing.
- Be prepared so you can enjoy yourself!
- Keep your pets on a leash and out of the buildings.
- The trails are multi-use, so bikers and horses will take the right of way on the trails.
The campgrounds were very nice and well kept. There was some shade in the spot I had. The picnic table had a nice cement foundation along with a partial shelter. There is also an equestrian campground in the park, if you opt to bring your horse.
I recommend making reservations ahead of time to be sure there is a spot. It is a long way from anywhere.
There are a variety of prairie animals at the park. I saw a couple of my favorites! The prairie dogs ran around near the camp sites.
Please do not feed or approach the wildlife. We want to keep them wild!
The Official Website for Caprock Canyon State Park: http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/caprock-canyons . You can learn about the park, it’s history and the natural elements that make up the canyons. Check the event page to see if they will be offering any programs during your stay.
I hope you enjoy your trip to Caprock Canyons State Park in Texas. And I hope this has helped you plan a memorable experience!
See my other Hiking Guides: