Hiking Palo Duro Canyon State Park–Day Two, New Year’s Day


In spite of having to run/rush, I enjoyed the first hike so much, I decided to go back down with my son on New Year’s Day, another weather perfect hiking and biking day.  I hiked the same trail but had time to enjoy it, take more photos.

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I headed up Comanche Trail from Chinaberry area toward the same peak in the distance.  Although this trail is not difficult, it is not flat until you get to the bottom of the cliffs in the distance.

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At this point I have reached the same area where I took most of the rock photos on the first Palo Duro post.  Once again, I took off onto the “new” trail to the north.

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To get to this point one has to climb down a rather steep trail and cross a dry arroyo and start up the other side.  This is across from where I had previously seen the shovels, etc.  They were still there, but the other equipment had been moved to just below where I took this photo.

This trail contains a lot of loose debris and dirt with large boulders laying every which way.

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Once I reached the flat top area, I saw those orange/red flags here and there and now wonder where the trail will eventually go.  I headed back toward Comanche.

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Back near Comanche Trail.

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At this point I had walked far enough down Comanche to be slightly past the cliff toward which I was originally headed.

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If you look in the middle distance, you can see the road in and out of the park.  Here I have walked considerably past the peak seen in the first photo.

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All kinds of rocks of all sizes appear everywhere–layers and layers of time.

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The trail follows the base of miles of cliffs.

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Fallen rocks and “caves” everywhere.

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Looking back from where I had climbed up higher and higher toward the flatter area.

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Another smaller “cave”.  I seriously considered hiking to it, figuring there might be some rattlesnakes sunning.  They do not react a lot unless startled or out hunting.

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Along the cliff base where the trail is easy.

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In this area, huge, white boulders appear to have fallen from the whiter area in the cliffs above.

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Farther down these boulders appear, more porous, darker.

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A closeup of this boulder shows baby prickly pear and grass growing from its surface.

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Farther south along the trail looking north.

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There are many species of prickly pear, including this one with its bright color.

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I looked up and saw three aoudad sheep.  See if you can find any of them in the middle of the photo.  They really blend in with these rocks.

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I did walk a bit off the trail to take this photo of “coffin” rock.

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Past the flat area canyon colors show up really brightly here–layers of color and time everywhere.

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Farther along the trail, looking toward the south.

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At this point on the trail past the long cliff wall, the trail becomes steeper and up and down again.

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Farther and farther past the cliff wall.

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Then one comes down farther where a small, spring fed stream runs.

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Here with year round water and shade the trees grow much bigger.  Farther down the trail more water seeps and the trail above contains steeper switch backs.

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Far past the cliff base, Comanche intersects Rock Garden Trail.  Once again, but not running/rushing this time, I start down Rock Garden.

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Looking south, I headed down.  Rock Garden gets its name from an ancient rock slide.

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Giant boulders everywhere.

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Some even have grass growing from them.

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I wanted to take a photo of this boulder because it looks like a giant face with ears.  However, it was so late that I could not take it without my shadow so being silly…

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Almost down, I took one final photo.  Comanche is the longest trail in the park.  It keeps going past the Rock Garden intersection.  My son, who was mountain biking there a couple of days later, rode almost its entire length.  Some day I want to start at Chinaberry and walk to the end.  However, if you plan to do this, find someone to meet you at the south (far) end because otherwise you will have miles to hike back.

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