by Laurence Parent (Falcon Guides)
© Laurence Parent/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
8-30-15: Just to let people know not to give up on this trail. As of 8-30-15 there has been much improvement on the trail. I personally have re-blazed parts of the trail have fallen into disuse. New portions of the trail from Juniper point have been created to by-pass portions that have fallen into the lake. You won't have to worry about walking through underbrush to get to good portions of the trail. From Juniper point to Rock Creek Marina the trail is in very good shape now. Past Rock Creek Marina to the Paw Paw Point trail head (12 mile point) the trail is in need of debris and trash removal from the lake flooding during May/June of 2015. There are plans to remove the debris come late September/October time frame (volunteers appreciated).
The last 2 miles of the trail has been sorely underused, with many trail makers missing. As of 8-30-15 new blazes have been placed from the Paw Paw Creek trail head (my Lake Texoma Marina) for about one-half mile. More will be placed in the coming weeks so that the entire trail will be completed blazed and easier to follow. I personally would like to see more people begin their trek from the Paw Paw Creek trail head (end of the trail) to help make the trail more visible by constant wear. Also, the Paw Paw Creek trail head has a great grassy area for parking plenty of vehicles.
Great trail. Steeper than you would think for Texas. Views of Lake Texoma are best at the beginning and end. It's the perfect trail for those looking for a same-day challenge, or who are preparing for longer backpacking trips. This is also a very fun trail to run on.
This is a great weekend trail. There are lots of good views and challenging terrain to keep you your toes. There are quite a few camping spots along the way. I have hiked into the middle and set up camp then done day hikes to explore from my camp. I have also done it as a hike to the end and back over two days. It is pretty tough.
The Marina at the Cedar Bayou Resort is a great place to park. It is secure and has water. If you hike west from there it is a short hike to the west to a great campsite on a point that is great for fishing and swimming. 5-mie camp is next and it has good established camping areas as well. I woke up to wild pigs around my campsite at 3am here. It is a semi tough hike on to eagles nest from there.
If you choose to go eastward from the marina, it doesn’t take long to get into some of the more challenging climbs and descents on the trail. You will end up at Juniper Point where there is water. There are some pretty nice camping sites along that trail as well.
This is not an easy trail. It is not technical but still not easy. Trail erosion has made it necessary to really watch your step and the wet parts are really slick. I never felt too isolated at any point on this trail. There are many spots where you happen on a house or a road. It is isolated enough to hear all the sounds of the wild at night. Including pigs. There are lots of raccoons and opossums. I have seen a few snakes and other critters.
I plan on going out there again. I live in Denton and it takes me 50 min. to be on the trail from my house. It is 51 miles from front door to trail head. The trip from Dallas should be very easy up 75 to 82. Hope to see you on the trail!
This review is dedicated to Vince, Greg, my wife, and the others who joined us for the good times camping along this trail. We hiked/camped along this trail about 7 times between Aug 2009 and Apr of 2010. We always started at the Marina and hiked to a spot around the 5-mile camp. The trail condition varies greatly throughout the year. In August we experienced a muddy mess. Leaves completely masked the trail in November. In early January most of the trail was clear and frozen. In the Spring the mud was back. The trail is easy to navigate but the elevation changes up the difficulty. Pack light if you plan to do the Lost Loop portion as the loop's return has a very steep uphill section that will quickly burn your legs out, especially if you are wearing 80lbs of gear. (Vince!) I would suggest skipping the loop if you are rucking in camping gear. There is a ton of dried driftwood collected in the gorges and plenty of fallen trees to use as firewood, so bring a good axe but leave the live trees alone. (Greg!) Also, during the months of nicer weather there can be a lot of campers out in this area. Not to bash the Boy Scouts, but every trip we had that lacked peace and quiet was on account of the 'Scouts running around, yelling, and throwing rocks into the lake when we were trying to fish. If you want the entire lake to yourself and have the proper gear and a bit of survival know how, try camping here in early January. Yes, it sucked when we did it and trying to keep warm occupied most of our time since the temps were 11°F during the day and 4°F at night, but the solitude and boost of experience was worth it. Just understand that the ground and lake will be frozen, so the normal camp functions of making a fire pit and fire, pooping, fishing in the lake, and purifying/storing a water supply will take a LOT more creativity. This is probably the best trail and campsite in North Texas, so if you are within a 4-hours drive but haven't been yet, you should go.
6 Scouts and 3 adult leaders as a prep trek for the Philmont Scout Ranch – Juniper Point to 5 mile campsite. Picturesque views, some elevation gain (and loss) to test the legs. Trails are pretty heavily eroded in places (a great opportunity for conservation service projects) but well marked. Evening rain + clay soils made the trek out a bit slippery in places. The June heat/humidity was impressive (106 degree heat/humidity index) and recent rains put a lot of Red River silt in the lake water. A lot of proximity to lake traffic and homeowners but a lot of wildlife in spite of it all. I’d do this one again in a heartbeat.
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