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Upper North Prong Trail, TX

Guide 3 Triplogs  0 Topics
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 2.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,454 feet
Elevation Gain 335 feet
Accumulated Gain 357 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 3.29
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Historic, Seasonal Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
15  2021-10-28
North and South Prong Loop
38  2019-10-04
Cap Rock Canyon Loop
4  2019-10-01 markthurman53
27  2019-10-01
North and South Prong Loop
author avatar Guides 187
Routes 826
Photos 9,755
Trips 658 map ( 5,627 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Tucson, Arizona
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Mar, Nov, Apr, Oct
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:03am - 7:35pm
Official Route
3 Alternative

Mountains below the plains
by markthurman53


Caprock Canyon like Palo Duro Canyon is located on the eastern edge of the Llano Estacado just south of Amarillo, Texas. The Llano Estacado is a plain that encompasses eastern New Mexico and Northwest Texas. Caprock Canyon is at the breaks of this plain and is drained by the Little Red River. The Spanish named the area “Hay Sierras Debajo De Los Llanos”, There are mountains beneath the plains. Geologically they are composed of Permian-Triassic Redbeds. The little Red River drains the park with two major streams, the South Prong and the North Prong of the Little Red River. In 1982 this became a Texas State Park and offers 30 miles of trails. Besides the scenic trails the other attraction are the Bison of which there are quite a few.


The Upper North Prong Trail has no Direct Trail Access and must be accessed via the North Prong Spur Trail or the Lower North Prong Trail. The trail starts at the junction of these two access trails where the North Prong of the Little Red River is very wide and resembling more of a valley than a canyon. This trail like many of the other trails in the park follows along what looks like an old jeep trail and as the canyon closes in the trail becomes a single track, sometimes in the creek bed and sometimes alongside. The termination point is Fern Cave at about 2.4 miles in. This trail gets a fair amount of use so is easy to follow. Of the 3 challenging trails in the park this is the easiest because it only goes half way up to the top of Haynes Ridge. Return must be back the way you came or the South Prong Trail or Haynes Ridge Trail.

Like the Upper South Prong Trail this trail starts out in the lower rebed rock that is interlaced with layers of gypsum, These layers of harder gypsum make for some pretty interesting patterns in the stream forming pools and stair step like cascades. As the canyon narrows the redbeds form 100 foot tall spires/cliffs with interesting hoodoos. A little over halfway in the canyon becomes narrower and the trail follows along the stream bed, sometimes on one side then the other. Just before Fern Cave the trail becomes steeper as it starts climbing up toward Haynes Ridge. Fern Cave is about half way up Haynes ridge.

Fern Cave is a must see, a shallow cave under a waterfall with ferns covering the cove almost entirely. This might be pretty impressive when the water is flowing over the falls. Even if the water isn’t flowing over the falls sit in the alcove and listen to the water dripping from the ferns. This trail offers two possible loop options. The first is from the North Prong Spur Trail Head along the park road. Take the North Prong Spur Trail to the Upper North Prong Trail then along the Haynes Ridge Trail returning where you started. The second is from the same trail head taking the same trails to Fern Cave but this time return along the Upper South Prong Trail. This loop ends at the Upper South Prong Trail Head along the Park road. A half mile walk along the road gets you back to your start point.

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2019-10-08 markthurman53

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$
    Fees are typically $4-$7 per person. Check the site for park hours and current fees.

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    Caprock Canyon State Park is located South East of Amarillo and Northeast of Lubbock Texas. Interstate 27 is the main interstate and highway 86 to the Town of Quitaque where the park is located.
    page created by markthurman53 on Oct 08 2019 10:31 am
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    Avoid Heat Illness - stay cool

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