CCC Trail--Goodnight Peak

This approximately one and three-quarter mile hike will take participants along the historic CCC (Civilian Convervation Corps) Trail first established in the 1930's during the early days of the state park.  We will travel back in geologic time from the Ogallala Formation on the top (beginning), down through the Triassic Dockum beds (Trujillo then Tecovas), ultimately down into the Permian Quartermaster Formation near the end.  We will begin at the trailhead with a brief introduction to the geology of Palo Duro Canyon, taking advantage of the wonderful panorama overlook before us. We will hike on a generally narrow, descending trail down to the main Trujillo sandstone bench seen capping many of the mesas within the canyon.  The trail takes us around the head of a major tributary to Timber Creek and onto Goodnight Mesa or "Triassic Peak".  After inspecting an array of sedimentary structures in the Trujillo sandstones along the mesa, we will then continue our descent down the other side of the mesa to ultimately culminate at the Pioneer Amphitheater parking lot. 

Velloso Dome

This approximately two-mile hike will take participants along a popular running and hiking trail for the first six-tenths of a mile through the Upper Permian Quartermaster red shales and siltstones.  Above us lingers the multi-colored mudstones of the Upper Triassic Tecovas Formation, often slumping down the Quartermaster slopes as we make our way around Timber Mesa.  The mesa is capped by resistant Trujillo sandstones, huge blocks of which litter the slopes in places.  We will literally walk over several areas of interesting climbing ripples in the bedded Permian silstones on our way to our main destination, Velloso or "Fuzzie's" Dome in the bed of the (normally) dry Sunday Creek.  Here wildly contorted thicknesses of Cloud Chief Gypsum await our examination, as well as sedimentary structures found in Quartermaster siltstones above.  After walking through the "Dome", we will leave the creekbed and hike up and over to the Lighthouse Trail as it winds around Capitol Peak, a magnificent precipice of Quartermaster and Tecovas rocks. The 0.9 miles left to trails' end affords an excellent view in the distance of Fortress Cliff and the entire rock section recorded in the canyon.

Catarina Caves

Field conference members may wish to take this short excursion, time permitting.  The Catarina Caves trail entrance is just down Park Road 5 from the old Sad Monkey railroad depot off the right (west) side of the road.  Nestled just below the north side of Timber Mesa, the main trail takes guests to a series of rather interesting caves that exist in relatively soft, easily-eroded Quartermaster redbeds and punctuated with a number of intervening gravity slumps and slides of Tecovas mudstones.  Equally interesting are the number of features in the Permian "badlands" topography seen to the right of the main trail, from the trailhead area westward for a short distance.  Participants can wander through this area noting the different features.  Total round trip for those wishing to visit both the caves and badlands area should be under one mile.

These hikes can be strenous at times and should not be attempted by anyone with health problems. Sturdy hiking boots and long pants are highly recommended.

~~Please note that collecting rock samples in Texas State Parks is illegal.  Please bring your binoculars, handlenses, and cameras but leave your rock hammer and sample bags at home!!!~~