Palo Dura Canyon – Lighthouse Trail

I made it…

I drove from Dallas and was going to stop at Lake Arrowhead State Park.  I drove thru the park but was not enamored by it and I felt like driving more so I continued on.  I looked up a place in my Passport America book and found the Long Branch RV Park right outside of Crowell, TX so I headed there.  I got there just as the sun was setting.  I was the only one in this small park.  The hosts acted like they had not had anyone there all summer.  They were so friendly.  The next morning I was headed to Palo Dura State Park.

Hard to put into words the beauty of Palo Dura Canyon…

Although I haven’t been to all of the Texas state parks I think that so far Palo Dura Canyon State Park is the most beautiful.  There is a 10% grade after you check into the park.  I was camped at the Hackberry Campground, which the ranger had recommended.  The weather was perfect in the high 80’s to low 90’s.  It seems hot by a lot of standards but compared to 108 it was perfect.  As I was setting up camp and getting leveled, about 10 wild turkets crossed in front of me.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture.  This is a pic of the moon from my campsite.

The Lighthouse Trail… 

I arose the following morning and was determined to get my hiking legs going after not using them all summer due to the extreme heat in Tyler.  I checked my map and saw a short trail with the trailhead at the end of the campground.  PERFECT!  I grabbed my small pack and headed out.  The trail was only 2 miles round trip.  You hike 1 mile up the trail and then 1 mile back to the trailhead.  That seemed easy enough.  I got to the end of the trail and checked my map.  Wait a gosh darn minute Jimbo, there is another trail a short distance up the road called the Lighthouse Trail.  It would take you up to the Lighthouse ( I showed a pic of the Lighthouse in my last post).  It was 6 miles round trip.  So off I go.  These are some pics as I was hiking up this trail.

Tough Climb!!

The Lighthouse Trail is fairly easy until you get to the last section.  Then it becomes a bear.  It was extremely steep and lots of rock and small pebbles making it very slippery.  You couldn’t even see the Lighthouse until you made this final climb.  I decided I would have to make this climb so up I went.

I got thru this section and then you could see the Lighthouse.  There is actually the Lighthouse and Castle Peak.  Between them is a plateau that reaches from one to the other.  I just had to get on top of that plateau.  I had met some bicyclists who showed me some pics they had taken on top of it.  So off I went, not sure how I was going to get up there.  I noticed the trail going to a small area right at the base of the Lighthouse.  I got up there and then noticed I would have to cross a ledge no more than a foot across.  I used to be scared out of my wits of heights, but snow skiing ended my fear.  However, this ledge was about 40-50 feet to rocks below.  GO FOR IT JIMBO!  I guess you know I made it.  WHAT A VIEW!

Yours truly at the base of the Lighthouse…

The bicyclists had shown me their pics of them posing in front of the Lighthouse.  I have a small tripod for my camera but forgot to pack it.  I had to balance the camera on rocks and probably took a dozen pics before I could get the right angle.  This is what I finally took.

The Lighthouse is 310 feet high with some of it below the plateau I was standing on.  The ledge I was referring to is on the right side of the plateau.  Now I had to walk along that ledge to climb down.  It is funny how you can see something from one angle and then it looks completely different from another angle.  Looking down at the ledge made it look much bigger then it was and I easily walked along it and made my way down.

I hiked the 3 miles back to the trailhead and then hiked to the other trail where I had to go another mile.  All in all I hiked 8 miles altogether.  That is probably the furthest I hiked since I hiked 20 miles for my Boy Scout hiking merit badge 50+ years ago.  When I got back to my campsite I was beat but very elated that I had completed it.  My feet were sore and my body was tired.

5 thoughts on “Palo Dura Canyon – Lighthouse Trail

  1. Jim:
    My heart stopped at the one foot wide ledge. What a challenge and you accomplished it! Why do I think of the guy who had to cut off his arm when I know you are hiking alone in treacherous areas?
    Anyways, you get many kudos from me for this hike and the scenery is breathtaking. I can understand why you enjoyed yourself!

  2. It is very beautiful and peaceful looking!! Finally someone else (Millie) that seems to have my thoughts about you hiking by yourself. But just call me the worrysome little sis!!!

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