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River Bottom Walk
PALO DURO CANYON
Palo Duro Canyon is located 25 miles southeast of Amarillo Texas, in the Texas panhandle, and is the second-longest canyon in the US; you can guess the first. The creek that runs through the canyon is part of the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River. The canyon formed when the river cut down through the Llano Estacado Plateau as it was uplifted during the Pleistocene Period. This canyon has been called the Grand Canyon of Texas. The rock formations are of the Permian and Triassic periods. The lower Permian section was formed when this was a near-shore shallow marine environment. The upper Triassic layer was formed when this was a stream environment and formed the Sandstone cap rock of the park.
Palo Duro gets its name from the Spanish, meaning “hard stick”. This area was first occupied by Native Americans, the Apaches and then replaced by the Comanche and Kiowa. It was visited by Coronado in 1541, then around the 1870’s ranching. It became a state park in the 1930s. A lot of history was glanced over in those last few sentences; more detail is readily available online.
The park’s paved road offers opportunities for sightseeing, camping and hiking. There are over 30 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails. With a look of a Minnie Sedona (minus the crowd) it is a worthy stop if you are anywhere near the area. Some of the Wildlife in this canyon include Mule Deer, Wild Turkey, Collared Lizard, Barbary Sheep (introduced in 1957) and Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes.
The Kiowa Trail follows along the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River from the Hackberry Camp Area on its southern end and ends 1.4 miles to the north at the Mack Dick Pavilion. This is a trail with very little change in elevation as it follows along the river bottom. The river is not always visible from this trail as it is set back a way. This trail, along with a portion of the Upper Comanche Trail, makes a good 4-mile loop hike.
This trail actually starts along the parking lot in the Hackberry camp area, but the route I posted shows it starting at the junction with the Upper Comanche Trail. This choice was strictly for convenience if this route is used for a loop hike with the Comanche Trail. It is actually 0.1 miles from the Comanche trail to the Kiowa Trail and another 0.1 miles south along the Kiowa to the Hackberry parking lot. From the Comanche Trail, this 0.1-mile spur trail crosses the river over a wooden bridge and follows along the river flood plain to the Kiowa trail. Heading left (south) will take you to the Hackberry Parking lot and right (North) to the northern end of the Kiowa Trail at the Mack Dick Pavilion. Nothing exciting about this trail; it is merely a means to an end.
Vegetation along this section is mainly mesquite, prickly pear, and grasses. This trail is probably not desirable to do after a rain as it is along the river's flood plains and can get quite muddy. Sections of the trail do overlook and come quite close to the river, which actually looks like a large stream most of the time. This is what I would consider a connector trail and doesn’t have much to offer in the way of views and interesting rock formations.
Check out the Official Route and Triplog.
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.