Friday, August 17, 2012

Dinosaur Valley SP: Hiking the White Trail

Donna and I had hiked Dinosaur Valley two times prior to our latest trip there. You can view one of these hikes on my website. For our hike on August 11, we invited my brother Larry and his fiance Nancy to join us. They arrived early that morning, and we were on the trail by 8:30.

Dinosaur Valley offers a number of hiking trails, most of them located in the eastern side of the park. Please visit the website for a map of the park. A trailhead is located near the campground, and that is where we began our hike.

After a short walk of about a third of a mile down the Cedar Brake Trail, we came to the Paluxy River crossing. On our previous hikes, Donna and I have had to either wade the river at this crossing or walk across on stepping stones. This time, this section of the river was dry, so we easily walked across.

Paluxy River crossing. You can see where the trail leads away from the river.
About a 100 yards upstream from this crossing is Track Site #4 for viewing dinosaur tracks, so you may want to take a short side trip to view these tracks.

After crossing the river, the trail officially becomes the White Trail and follows the river for the short stretch as it begins a gentle climb. After perhaps 50 yards, it turns away from the river, roughly following Denio Creek upstream, which was also dry during our hike.

At Point A on the map, the White Trail junctions and we took the southern arm. The climb at this point is perhaps the steepest of the hike, though it really is not a challenge. The trail more or less doubles back on itself, and in a short while reaches a cliff overlooking the river crossing.

Nancy and Larry on the White Trail as it climbs away from Denio Creek
Dry river crossing as seen from a cliff on the White Trail above the river.
After that point, the trail becomes rather nondescript as it wends its way through cedar dominated woodlands. There are trail markers along the trail that match the points on the map, and colored arrows on the markers indicate trail directions.

Trail marker with map at Point G. Arrows indicate this is the location where the Blue Trail intersects with the White Trail.
Nancy and Donna at Buckeye Creek crossing
Near Point F, an unmarked branch trail veers off to the left; however, we continued on the White Trail to a perimeter fence. The trail here soon became overgrown, so we back tracked to the branch trail, which Donna and I had taken before. The trail soon brought us to a grotto on the upper reaches of Buckeye Creek.

Grotto on Buckeye Creek just off the White Trail
Near this point, we began following the Blue Trail to Point L, where we then took the Yellow Trail to Point K. From here, we followed a spur to what the map indicates is a "scenic overlook". This actually may be the highest point in the park, but there are better views at other sites. A young couple were camping at the primitive camping area here, so we did not stay long.

Back at Point K, we continued following the Yellow Trail to Point E, where we joined once again with the White Trail. At this point, we became a bit confused about trails. We opted to follow the White Trail, which soon descended into Denio Creek. We followed the White Trail the remainder of our hike to the trailhead where we started earlier that morning. We moved upstream a bit to inspect the dinosaur tracks at Track Site #4, then returned to camp.

My hiking companions following the White Trail along Denio Creek
The section of the White Trail along Denio Creek provides many opportunities to view the workings of erosion.

We met several people along the trail, including at least 2 groups of mountain bikers.

Since there are so many trails that criss-cross this section of the park, it is easy to put together different hikes of varying lengths. There are also trails that lead off to the north of the park.

All in all, this is a fun place to hike.

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