An out-and-back to Fern Cave with two challenging climbs.


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FATMAP difficulty grade



Caprock Canyons State Park is arguably one of the best-kept secrets in Texas.

Opened in 1982, this region has been home to cultures dating as far back as 10,000 years.

Today, it is a refuge for a protected bison herd and a destination for some of the state's premier hiking. Lubbock and Amarillo are both within two hours, and the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is less than five hours away.

Despite the distance, the extensive network of trail and camping opportunities make this a popular weekend destination for the entire family. This hike begins at the South Prong Tent Campground.

Popular among hikers, this site is nestled between two canyons walls, with a remote feeling like no other.

Leaving the campground, the trail parallels a riverbed, crossing it at many points.

Unless there has been a recent rain, you will likely not find anything more than standing water.

As the trail progresses further into the canyon, it passes a primitive camping area—an excellent opportunity to spend the night under the stars.

Shortly after, the path leads up a steep canyon wall, frequently switchbacking its way to the top.

Several trail markers are there to keep you on track, but the rugged terrain can still make navigation difficult.

Slickrock and large boulders make up much of the path and provide breathtaking views all along the way. As the trail crests the ridge, it passes the Haynes Ridge Trail, known for its phenomenal panoramic views further down the ridge.

Keep straight through the intersection following the Upper Canyon Trail as it begins a brief descent into an adjacent canyon. At the bottom, the trail reaches a highlight of the park: Fern Cave.

An overhanging ledge lined with ferns provides a relaxing and serene atmosphere to enjoy lunch.

The ferns often drip water from their fronds, runoff from atop the caprock and nearby farmlands.

To complete the hike, retrace your steps back to the South Prong Campground. Sources: