52 Hike Challenge 2019

2019 #hike3 - Palo Duro Canyon State Park

“Wandering through the canyons was exactly what I needed.”


Quick Stats

Date: Sunday, January 19, 2018

Location: Palo Duro Canyon State Park - Canyon, TX

Distance: 10.4 miles

Trails: Givens, Spicer, Lowry Trail, part of the Lighthouse Trail, Little Fox Canyon Loop

Miles from Home: 359 miles

Weather: Sunny, 30-40s

Equipment: Apple Watch, iPhone, Olympus TG-5 camera


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Highlights

  • Very few people at the park

  • Clear, sunny skies

  • Trails are well maintained

  • Park location is quiet and secluded

  • No cell service down in the canyon

  • Beautiful, varied terrain

  • Plenty of trails throughout the park for all skill levels

Low Points

  • The few people who were there were mostly nice, though some were too loud

  • Was a long drive from home

  • Half the park was closed for a Texas Parks and Wildlife sanctioned hunt, limiting trails

This park is a great option for anyone in Texas, or the surrounding areas, who want to experience red rocks and big canyons. If you love the Four Corners area, you’ll likely enjoy this park. I’ve visited before, check out that experience here. The plan was to leave around midnight for Big Bend National Park, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I had been speaking about avoiding NPS sites during the shutdown and exploring public land alternatives so I followed my own advice. I was going to wake up at 2 AM and begin the 5 hour drive to Palo Duro, but I slept on until 5AM instead. I finally hit the road at 8 AM and arrived to the park about 1 PM. Once I made it down into the canyon, there was hardly anyone at the trailhead parking.

I started my hike on a trail I had never been on and I was so excited for the unknown. When I set out that morning, it was frigid enough for a down puffy jacket, but I had settled on a hoodie and a t-shirt for the hike. Since I had visited two years prior, I had an idea of what to expect as far as terrain and conditions. What I didn’t expect, were the views. I mean, I knew I’d see some red rocks and green vegetation, but you never know how the light will dance around the canyon until you’re there. Red rocks soothe my soul and there is just no way around that fact.

As I made my way down the trail, I had a new view around every turn. There were plenty of great views but my favorite parts were when I was hiking right along the massive canyon edges, up close and personal with the rocks. I made my way to the next trail, one I hiked before, and out towards the iconic Lighthouse rock structure. The Lighthouse trail was much more populated, despite having a closed parking lot, and I moved quickly because it was relatively flat comparatively. By the time I made it to the end and back to the GSL, the people had vanished and I had the place mostly to myself again. I encountered several mountain bikers, but they were mostly courteous and polite passing quickly. I took a little offshoot trail called Little Fox Loop which led to a hill and great views in the canyon. As the afternoon ended and I was making my way back to the car, everything looked different in the setting sunlight. The beauty of the desert, the canyons, the red rocks, and even the forest is every trail can seem like a new trail as the light shifts around during the day.

These red rocks were worth the five and half hour drive each way. My day in the canyon, where it was silent and free from city noises, was exactly what I needed.

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Before & After

2019 #hike2 - Eagle Mountain Park

My old standby…


Quick Stats

Date: Sunday, January 6, 2018

Location: Eagle Mountain Park - NW Fort Worth, TX

Distance: 5.1 miles

Trails: Main trail, Shoreline trail, S Shoreline Trail

Miles from Home: 27

Weather: Mostly Sunny, Mid-50s

Equipment: Apple Watch, iPhone, Olympus TG-5 camera


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Highlights

  • Beautiful day and many miles of trails

  • Variety in elevation - nothing like the mountains, but much better than just flat

  • Most of the muddy creek crossings had stones for jumping

  • Horses and pets are not allowed, which keeps the trails clean and less rutted

Low Points

  • People have created many side trails, use your head and stick to the main ones

  • There is some oil & gas machinery near one of the trails, it can be annoying/smelly

  • Very muddy but not impassible

I call this place my old standby because if everything else falls through, I can always come here! The trails have variety, the lake always provides a breeze, and the terrain is more challenge than common flat trails in the area. There are always people at the park, so be warned that if you want peace go before 8 am. Today I strolled in around 10 am, much later than normal for me, and I saw plenty more people because of it. Most people were friendly, though, and all were covered in mud. Some runners had legs caked in the gray dirt all the way up to their knees.

Many runners use this place a circuit of sorts and I passed by one guy so many times it just caused me to laugh out loud the last time. I was strolling along at a moderate pace and he was running by over and over.

This park suffers from major trail offshoots and overfull trash cans at the parking lot. Today, the cans weren’t quite as bad as normal, but the mud had people making tons of new trails. I lost count of all the offshoots, but did my best to stay on path and follow Leave No Trace guidelines. Go through, not around. Getting muddy can be half the fun of a good hike! I will always recommend this place to anyone looking around DFW metro area, and that opinion hasn’t changed today. Go check it out if you want a fun, varied hike/run/casual stroll. Be warned, it’s a little muddy today but you’ll be rewarded with trickling drainage streams bubble along the way.


Before & After

2019 #hike1 - Shoreline Trail at Lake Lewisville

It is outside and it is dirt, so it counts.


Quick Stats

Date: January 5, 2018

Location: Shoreline Trail (starting at Stewart Park in The Colony, TX)

Distance: 3.7 Miles

Trails: Shoreline Trail is only one trail

Miles from Home: 26

Weather: Sunny and mid-40s

Equipment: Apple Watch, iPhone, Olympus TG-5 camera


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Highlights

  • Only a few people out and about meant I had the place mostly to myself

  • Nice gravel path with very little clay

  • Nice bridges over the really swampy drains

  • Dogs are allowed and there were plenty of dogs along the way in yards

Low Points

  • Very populated areas, would be more suited for daily walks than a “hike”

  • Noisy - road noise, people doing yard work, etc.

  • Very muddy and flooded in parts due to neighborhood drainage

This is a great trail for neighborhood locals needing a good run or to walk their dogs. This was not a hiking trial, by my standards. I enjoyed the stroll, regardless of what this trail was, but did miss the seclusion other urban parks in the area offer. I saw several birds including mallards, cardinals, and blue jays. I’d recommend this to any local inhabitant within a few miles, but I will not likely be driving 26 miles for this one again. The point in which I turned around due to flooding was the point where the trail was furthest from neighborhoods, so there is some potential for a more secluded walk that I just didn’t get to experience today.

The actual walking/hiking revealed that I’ve been way too lazy for way too long. I noticed it back in Alaska too, and I’m glad to be getting outside again. This trail technically the “hike with a body of water” in the 52 Hike Challenge Adventure Series, but I intend to aim higher for this one. Until the next one, happy trails!


Before & After