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Hiking To The Lighthouse

lighthouse trailLighthouse Rock is an icon of the Texas State Parks system. The towering monolith can be found at the end of a long hiking trail in Palo Duro Canyon State Park, near Amarillo.

My wife, Mary, and I set off on a Saturday morning to hike into Lighthouse. It was an overcast, cool, June day. We packed in some water bottles and Clif Bars to provide fuel for our journey.

lighthouse trail
Mary leads the way

The Lighthouse Trail is five-and-a-half miles round-trip. There are helpful trail markers every tenth of a mile, so you can always keep yourself oriented. There are also welcome benches every half mile or so. The hiking is not particularly difficult, and the trail is shared with mountain bikers. On the day of our hike the trail was pretty busy with both hikers and bikers. The trail population this day was an eclectic mix…young, old, thin, heavy, families, people going solo.

There had been a heavy rain during the night, so there were some muddy spots in draws and creek beds, but very little standing water. Our weather was perfect for hiking, overcast and temps in the 70’s. I tried to imagine doing this trip with temperatures around a hundred degrees under a blazing sun, which is more common in the panhandle in June. It would have made the journey much more challenging.

The trail is lined with high plains shrubs like juniper, mesquite, prickly pear cactus. We wound our way around a mountain and could see the geological features in the different strata of the layers of soil and rock built up over the millennia.

lighthouse trailWe arrived at the end of the trail, at the base of Lighthouse, and found a welcoming picnic table. There were markers that said “End Of Trail”, but actually it continued up the rock to the foot of Lighthouse. This last part is a steep climb and can be a challenge. The descent is even more difficult and can be quite technical in spots. The park rangers don’t encourage the climb to the top, but their cautious warnings are largely ignored.

It was mid afternoon when we headed back to the trailhead. Mary’s boots started bothering her on the last mile-and-a-half back to the car. She was in increasing pain and at one point considered going barefoot, which would have been near impossible in rocky sections of the trail. At one difficult moment I was contemplating how I would carry her out if it came to that. She’s a petite girl, but even so it would have been a real struggle if she had to piggyback the way out. She slowed and rested, but eventually made it on her own.

The Lighthouse Trail is a signature hike of the Texas State Park system. Not particularly long or difficult, it attracts hikers from all over. I’ve hiked long, climbing trails before, but this was a first for Mary. I was proud of her, particularly how she stubbornly pushed on when her boots were killing her feet.

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North Texas Active Life is your guide to resources in North Texas that will help you and your family lead active and healthy lives. We are focused on the Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Allen areas and surrounding communities. Our topics cover events, recreation, activities, fitness resources, and healthy living . Articles cover hiking, biking, trails, fitness, parks, kayaking, bicycling, rock climbing, walking, and more.