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south prong jaunt
Like Palo Duro Canyon, Caprock 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 red beds. 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 offered 30 miles of trails. Besides the scenic trails, the other attraction is the Bison, of which there are quite a few.
LOWER SOUTH PRONG TRAIL
The Lower South Prong Trail is 2.2 miles long and follows along the South Prong of the Little Red River. The west side trailhead is accessible by car along the park road. The east side is accessible via the Wild Horse Trail. On the east side, the trail ends at the junction of the North and South Prong of the Little Red River, becoming the Little Red River. This trail is easy walking and crosses the river multiple times. I would call this a creek instead of a river, but I wasn’t on the committee when picking names. In June, when I was there, it was mostly dry. This trail can be used as one leg of a longer loop hike involving the North Prong Trail, Haynes Ridge, or Upper South Prong Trails.
From the west end at the parking lot trailhead for the south Prong and North Prong Spur Trails, the trail heads east, following alongside the park road. On my trip there, I ran into a herd of buffalo that appear to use this trail as a means of travel. After 0.75 miles, the trail drops into the South Prong River and stays there the rest of the way. Where it drops into the river bed, the geology is fascinating. There are layers of exposed gypsum beds anywhere from a few inches to a couple of feet thick. The trail along the creek follows an old two-track and easy to follow. A couple of places along this trail that the creek has cut into the hillside form cliffs that expose the bedrock. Other points of interest along the trail are remnants of days when this was ranchland. Springtime also offers a variety of wildflowers. This is a delightful walk with views limited to the immediate surroundings except for the canyon walls on either side of the creek off in the distance.
Check out the Official Route and Triplog.