Little Red Riding 'Hood
ElevationAscent: 863' 263 m
Descent: -857' -261 m
High: 2,643' 806 m
Low: 2,265' 690 m
GradeAvg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 15% (9°)
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“The landscape in the park is exceptional: the riding in the park is... less inspiring.”— Lost Justpastnowhere
However, many of the trails are 3-4 feet wide. The base is mostly hard packed sand/dirt and bison tracks, but there are some short and some extensive sandy stretches. Fat tires will be helpful.
- Entry to Caprock Canyons State Park is $5/person or $70 for an annual pass (2017 prices).
- Bison range freely throughout the park so you might encounter them on any of the trails. Keep at least 50 yards from them to avoid being charged (by the bison or the park police). Some of the trails are also popular with equestrians.
- Some of the trails are VERY sandy and traction will be difficult with "normal" mountain bike tires. Bring fat tires if you have them or be prepared to get bogged down occasionally.
- Part of the route runs in the normally dry river bed. It's probably better to avoid this one if there is any chance of a flash flood.
Then you'll follow the rim for about 2.0 miles before a series of two short and steep descents take you down to Wild Horse Trail and a crossing of the Little Red River (it was pretty dry when I was there). The descents are rutted and filled with loose 2-4 inch rocks, so they don't fit with the easy character of the rest of the Canyon Rim Trail.
After joining Wild Horse Trail for 0.25 miles, turn right to begin the difficult climb up Mesa Trail. It's over soon though even if you have to walk, and there is some narrow but otherwise easy, flat, narrow singletrack on top of the mesa as the payoff. Mesa Trail runs close to the canyon rim although you wouldn't know it because there isn't much of a view. At the far end of Mesa Trail, take the Mesa Spur Trail over to Lower Canyon Trail - North. Mesa Spur Trail does have some great views near the edge of the cliff, but the descent to Lower Canyon Trail - North is quite steep and there are a couple of drops/chutes that all but the most advanced riders will probably have to walk.
Lower Canyon Trail - North runs through the valley of the North Prong of the Little Red River and is 3-4 feet wide its entire length. It crosses the normally dry river bed half a dozen times and the trail runs directly through the river bed for a couple hundred feet in a couple of places. Unfortunately, this trail is a beach. The short little ascents/descents down into the river bed are particularly sandy. Having said all that, I was about to ride about 90% of it with "normal" tires, but it was slow going with each pedal stroke being two steps forward and one step back. Fat tires that would help you float over the sand would make this a fun ride.
At about 7.5 miles, you'll leave the river bed and after a short climb, you'll crest a hill and an awesome view of the red rock canyons to the west opens up. The path also becomes less sandy at this point, so you can make better progress.
At the end of Lower Canyon Trail - North, turn left onto Canyon Loop Trail (the trail which goes straight is closed to bikes). Canyon Loop Trail is also 3-4 feet wide but it features a good, hard surface so you can pick up some speed. This trail passes closest to the impressive red rock canyon walls in the northeast corner of the park. At times, the trail twists in and out of these formations and there area a few short climb/descent combinations through various washes.
When you reach the trailhead for the Canyon Loop Trail, take the Lower Canyon Trail - South which is a narrower singletrack following the main park road. This trail plunges down into the wash for the South Prong of the Little Red River. The descent is steep and rocky with a side of ruts and loose surface. The steep climb out on the other side of the wash features loose surface with ruts and a side of rocks. Expect to walk one or both unless you're a strong, technical ride. At the top of the climb, you'll have to turn right to take a short path (another tricky descent) out to the main road. The Lower Canyon Trail actually continues to the left (east), but that part of the Lower Canyon Trail is closed to bikes.
Continue south on the main park road for a quarter mile and then turn right onto the Eagle Point Trail. Eagle Point Trail is another 3-4 foot wide trail, but there isn't the sand to be found on some of the other trails. This segment is overall relatively flat, except for a couple of steep descents/ascents into the several tributaries to the Little Red River that is crosses. At the end of Eagle Point Trail, turn left onto the park road to complete the loop.
Land Manager: Texas Parks and Wildlife - Caprock Canyons State Park