#hike12 - Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway

Date: March 25-26, 2017 Time: morning and midday

Place: Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway

Distance: 14 +/- miles

Trail Map

The new thing we do is this: I'll come home Friday from work, pack, sleep, and then we'll head out in the middle of the night (technically Saturday 1-4am) and go somewhere for a morning hike with the intention of camping for the night.

Early Saturday morning, we left around 3:15 and headed towards Caprock Canyons State Park.  It was a relatively short drive, at just under five hours, and we were there just after sunrise. The first thing you're greeted with at this park is the herd of bison (read about the bison herd here).  Once through that natural slow down, you check in and go on your way.  We went to the Canyon Rim trail first, figuring we'd get some good views and start the day on an easy-moderate level.  The first thing we noticed, after the bison, were the lack of people!  The park wasn't crowded - how nice!  We set off on the trail, getting our views and energizing our bodies for the day.  It was mostly flat at first, winding along above the canyon but at the halfway point we started descending.  It was the perfect time for a change of pace and scenery.  We made it to the crossroads of the Wild Horse trail and made our way pack to where we started.

From there, we talked to a park ranger and learned we could check in before 2pm, which was news to us.  We went, got our camping permit and assignment, and set up camp.  From there we hiked the Eagle Point trail, which is two miles each way.  The trail has expansive views, goes through the middle of the park, and is very exposed - no shade.  We went up and down minor hills, and wound through the desert landscape.  We found a natural bridge, some dried stream beds, and only passed a few people.

Sunday, we woke up and cleaned/packed the camp and headed to our last trail of the weekend.  The Canyon Loop trail is only about 1.3 miles, but connects to several other trails.  We were going to take it and connect to the Upper Canyon trail and go as far as Fern Cave.  We got about .75 miles in and our sunburns from the previous day and the sluggish pace from Chewy the dog indicated we shouldn't go too much further.  We manged another .75 miles but had to turn around.  Chewy the dog was thirsty, tired, and had reached his limit for the weekend.  I was impressed and thankful for his stamina throughout the entire weekend.

Major takeaways:

  • Will need to revisit to go to Fern Cave and a few other trails - maybe in the fall/winter.
  • Need to get a backpack with a water bladder for me alone, plus the other water for Chewy
  • Need to get a collapsible water dish for Chewy - carrying around a conventional one is just extra bulk in the day pack
  • Have to remember more sunscreen & to reapply often
  • Need to remember my adventure hat with a wide, surrounding brim