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Palo Duro Canyon - 7.5 hr drive from Austin

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Well worth the trip.

We went up for the 24hrs in the Canyon, had a great time!  The Crew that maintains the trails do a great job, and are very dedicated.

Lots of sandy sections, lots of rocks, lots of ledges.  Carry plenty of water, it gets stupid hot down there.

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I've never been up there and I've lived in Austin for 20 years.  I may try to stop there while returning from a road trip to Portland next month.  

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I thought Comanche Trail was technical. We went there last Thanksgiving, tons of walkers. By the third day we had our fill.

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk

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After 20 years of living in Austin, I finally had the opportunity to ride Palo Duro Canyon.  I was able to get in 20 miles before having to reluctantly finish my ride and continue the trek back to Austin.  This trail system has some of the best views you'll get in Texas, and the trails offer a variety of riding.  Some trails have many technical features, combined with sharp climbs or descents. Others offer fast, flowing singletrack that you can really hammer on (being careful of others, of course).  There's nary a straight piece of trail in the whole park!  Highly recommend, and I look forward to riding again!

Some photos here:

Strava track:

https://www.strava.com/activities/1930284821

 ..Al

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2 hours ago, St.Bernardo said:

Did you go up the Rock Garden Trail to the canyon rim?  Fantastic views up there.

I did not.  I was time limited, so I was trying to do a full loop with as much as I could fit in.  I was following a 26 mile track from MTB Project called "Baby Grand", which included nearly everything out there, minus the Rock Garden Trail.  I ended up skipping some stuff at the end because it took me longer than expected to get to the 20 mile mark, and I really had to get back on the road to head home (this was the end of my trip, having started in Portland on Monday). 

Next time I'm out there I'll be sure to include Rock Garden Trail.  🙂

 ..Al

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My wife and I are heading to Palo Duro in a couple of weeks for our 24th anniversary.  Any suggestions for three not-too-long rides?  My wife is a strong rider but she gets cranky if we ride too long.  Plus, we will be dealing with potentially hot days and little shade.  

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The trails in the bottom of the canyon on the South side of the main road are flowy riding and it is easy to ride what is comfortable then bail off to get back to camp.

The trails that go up on the ridge on the Northish side of the main road will be more strenuous and technical, and don't offer as many places to bail out.

Take plenty of water. You never know if you may have to share with a Touron grandparent who goes hiking with an 8 ounce bottle to share with all the grandkids they brought along. Happened to me once. Had to go find a park ranger to rescue them with a golf cart.

Edited by Ridenfool

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On 5/3/2019 at 9:08 AM, hurronnicane said:

My wife and I are heading to Palo Duro in a couple of weeks for our 24th anniversary.  Any suggestions for three not-too-long rides?  My wife is a strong rider but she gets cranky if we ride too long.  Plus, we will be dealing with potentially hot days and little shade.  

Paseo del Rio to Rojo Grande to Sunflower is fun because they go by the river and there's a good amount of shade.   A very different feel than the rest of the park.  We would do that south than go back north on Juniper/cliffside  and/or Capitol Peak (more rocky and sunny).   All of that was fairly easy, my 10 year old daughter was rolling with us the whole way.    

Edited by JustSomeGuy
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Posted (edited)

Add my observations from our two night stay. I didn't get to ride as much as I wanted because I was with my not so strong of a rider wife. But I did have a two hour ride by myself. 

I will advise that the GSL trail is a do not miss trail. I think the state park trail guide calls it "difficult."  I don't know if those ratings are mountain bike related or advice for hikers. But I'm not a super strong rider and it was not difficult for me. There were several punchy climbs that I couldn't do, or at least didn't try because I wanted to save my energy. But every climb was rewarded with a flowy downhill run. That was the great thing about it. Not like BCGB where you work so hard to get up and then work so hard to get down. The scenery on GSL is amazing too. I thought as I rode, "this is REAL mountain biking!"

I also rode Upper Comanche from the Hackberry campsite, where we were staying, north to the event center trail head. I think that was also rated "difficult" but just a blue trail on Trailforks. There was nothing on it I couldn't do. The next day I rode the rest of it south from our campsite to "finish" doing it. THAT part IS difficult. But again, I never had to carry my bike down anything. It was just the short, hard (sometimes ledgy) climbs that I couldn't do.

Lighthouse, Little Fox Canyon, Paseo del Rio, Sunflower, and Rojo Grande, were all just scenic trail. Hardly any features at all and very beginner friendly. My wife did most of them and could have done all those listed. Lighthouse is more of a road than trail.

Everything is signed pretty well. I had to use Trailforks on Capitol Peak Trail because I got a little confused there and the park paper map didn't help me.

I would go back again. It's a long ass drive though. 

Edited by The Tip
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On 7/18/2020 at 12:33 PM, The Tip said:

Add my observations from our two night stay. I didn't get to ride as much as I wanted because I was with my not so strong of a rider wife. But I did have a two hour ride by myself. 

I will advise that the GSL trail is a do not miss trail. I think the state park trail guide calls it "difficult."  I don't know if those ratings are mountain bike related or advice for hikers. But I'm not a super strong rider and it was not difficult for me. There were several punchy climbs that I couldn't do, or at least didn't try because I wanted to save my energy. But every climb was rewarded with a flowy downhill run. That was the great thing about it. Not like BCGB where you work so hard to get up and then work so hard to get down. The scenery on GSL is amazing too. I thought as I rode, "this is REAL mountain biking!"

I also rode Upper Comanche from the Hackberry campsite, where we were staying, north to the event center trail head. I think that was also rated "difficult" but just a blue trail on Trailforks. There was nothing on it I couldn't do. The next day I rode the rest of it south from our campsite to "finish" doing it. THAT part IS difficult. But again, I never had to carry my bike down anything. It was just the short, hard (sometimes ledgy) climbs that I couldn't do.

Lighthouse, Little Fox Canyon, Paseo del Rio, Sunflower, and Rojo Grande, were all just scenic trail. Hardly any features at all and very beginner friendly. My wife did most of them and could have done all those listed. Lighthouse is more of a road than trail.

Everything is signed pretty well. I had to use Trailforks on Capitol Peak Trail because I got a little confused there and the park paper map didn't help me.

I would go back again. It's a long ass drive though. 

If you catch it in the spring when they have had some rain the wildflowers are amazing!

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