Is that whispering the sound of wind humming across weathered rock, or is it a ghost singing softly in Spanish? Hike deep into the red rock and dun earth of Caprock Canyons and you might feel the presence of comancheros, Spanish entrepreneurs who traded gunpowder, biscuits, and blankets to Comanche Indians for buffalo robes and jerked meat. That was before the Texas Panhandle was on the map, when the trails were secret and the canyons echoed with the steel-shod hooves of the comancheros' surefooted mules.
The comancheros are gone, but today's trails follow the same routes over rugged escarpments, where pronghorn antelope graze and golden cottonwoods shimmer through long, sun-drenched autumns.
Pilgrims to Caprock Canyons State Park can explore this historic frontier from pathways like Eagles Point or the Canyon Loop within the park, or hook up with the adjoining 64-mile state park trailway. No matter what route you choose, stop at some point under the high Texas sky and listen for barking dogs, nickering horses, and the chatter of barter. It may be only the wind you hear, or then again....
Where: 98 miles (2 hours) northeast of Lubbock and 460 miles northwest of Dallas. Trailheads are 3 miles north of Quitaque on RR 1065.
Maps: Hiking and Backpacking Trails of Texas ($17.95, Gulf Publishing Company, 713-529-4301).
Trail Info: Caprock Canyons State Park, (806) 455-1492.