Yesterday was our last full day in Palo Duro Canyon – at least for this trip. We decided to hike the Givens, Spicer, Lowry Running Trail out to Little Fox Canyon where there is a loop (and we did see one person running on the trail.) From what we could tell (and the trail GPS did confirm this) it looked like about 7 miles round trip.
You can also take the Lowry Trail to the Lighthouse. Since it was Saturday, we figured the Lighthouse would be pretty popular so we stayed away. Besides, we thought we had hiked Little Fox the last time we were here and wanted to see if we were remembering right.
This was a really nice hike. There were a decent number of mountain bikes but everyone was very courteous. We only saw a few hikers and most didn’t look like they were going far. At first we thought this trail would be too technical for us to ride (“technical” to me means there are a lot of places that you can get seriously hurt – like narrow, rocky, declines along the edge of cliffs) but that wasn’t really the case, except in maybe one or two places. It would have been a nice trail to ride. I would definitely have walked my bike up some hills, though. Maybe next time …
When you are hiking, there are a lot of interesting rock formations and you can see the Lighthouse in the distance along parts of the trail. On the way back we stopped at Red Star Ridge. There is a beautiful view with a couple of benches. I will post some pictures as soon as I can get my computer on-line.
The turn-off to Little Fox Canyon was well marked. It looked like a new sign had been put up and there is a picnic table where you can rest in the shade. We also saw a couple of signs, including one that looked brand new, with just a number (I think we saw 6, 7 and 8 in all.) We never did figure out what they were for – probably for maintenance. We did hear a trimmer in the distance once or twice and parts of the trail had been cut, which was nice.
I was remembering a hill inside the loop where you can climb up and sit on a bench. Well, it was a smaller hill than I remember but it was there – Petite Teton (I’m not making this up – there is a sign!)
You can see big houses sitting on the edge of the cliffs if you look one way. The other way has a beautiful view into the Canyon. We had our lunch here but it is not exactly the half-way point.
You know you are at the half-way point because there is a shady grove with a signature book. We left a message and it looked like this was a well traveled route because a lot of people had signed in. There was also the beginnings of an “enchanted forest” where people leave little trinkets in the trees. Kind of like the things you would find in a geocache.
We kept a pretty good pace and I think it only took about three hours until we were back at the car. Just as a note, I finished the water in my small camel pack (maybe two quarts) an it wasn’t even a hot day. There is only a limited amount of shade on the trail.
We stopped at the Visitor Center on the way back. I have already read the History of Palo Duro Canyon so I bought a book that recounts the stories of women on the frontier (with a tie-in to the quilts they made.)
We are leaving today for Oklahoma, assuming the river crossings are passable. It rained a lot last night. The park has all kinds of signs about flooding on the road but I’m not sure what it takes to make the road impassable with a trailer.
I’m going to call the Ranger Station now and check on the roads. No big deal – we will just stay another night.