Monday, August 24, 2020
Davis Mountains State Park Skyline Drive Trail is a favorite. In my forties, I hiked the trail starting at the trailhead next to the Interpretive Center, hiked all the way to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Overlook at the end of Skyline Drive and back. It took most of the day and I was worn out at the end.
Older and hopefully wiser, my wife drove me up Skyline Drive to its end. I told her I would meet her back in the campsite before lunch. Then I turned and headed off toward the CCC Overlook on the way to find the trailhead. The trail is easier starting at the higher end and hiking it one way.
I passed the CCC Overlook around 8:00 AM and returned back to camp by 11:00 AM. Three hours. The hardest part of the trail is the steep switch backs on the side of Keesey Canyon, the canyon where the Amphitheater is located.
There isn’t a Skyline Drive Trail kiosk at this end of the Skyline Drive Trail. There is an Old CCC Trail trailhead kiosk close by the CCC Overlook/Stone Shelter. Three trails start in the same little area. Old CCC Trail, Skyline Drive Trail and Fort Access Trail.
Follow the trail signs and stone cairn markers to the beginning of the Old CCC Trail.
On the way to the Old CCC Trail trailhead, enjoy the views. In the above picture, the camera is looking toward Fort Davis. Most, but not all, of Fort Davis is hidden from view by mountains.
After hiking down the narrow stairway hewn from the mountains rock, look for the signs.
Skyline Drive Trail is on the right. The intersection of the three trails has great views on both sides.
In the above picture, taken on the Old CCC Trail side of the mountain, is a view of Limpia Creek and TX-118.
This is how Skyline Drive Trail begins. The trail runs flat and wide for some distance before narrowing and becoming more rugged.
A Skyline Drive Trail spur heads up to the Skyline Drive. Turn right (up hill) to take the trail spur to Skyline Drive.
The view from the road where the trail spur ends is good. Skyline drive flows around a water cistern on the left of the above picture.
Instead of taking the spur, stay to the left. The trail becomes more rugged and narrow in parts.
Here, the trail crosses Skyline Drive to run (sort of) parallel to the Old CCC Trail for a while.
The Old CCC Trail can be seen from Skyline Drive Trail in places. In this trail section, the Old CC Trail parallels Skyline Drive Trail.
Further down the trail, a public restroom on Skyline Drive comes into view as well as this trail kiosk/marker. The signage marks a short trail connecting Skyline Drive Trail to Old CCC Trail.
The trail in the opposite direction goes to the only restroom on Skyline Drive. Nature was calling. Regrettably, the restroom was closed so nature went unanswered.
The trail continues on, crossing the Limpia Creek side of the mountain.
The trail leads further up the mountain and will eventually cross Skyline Drive again at the higher of the two scenic overlooks. On the way up, hikers should turn around to look back on where they have been.
Looking past Limpia Creek, hikers can catch glimpses of the McDonald Observatory‘s three largest telescopes.
The Old CCC Trail can be seen paralleling this section of trail. The Old CCC Trail is quite a distance downhill.
This section of trail provides a great variety of views. The above view is looking back toward the trail starting point.
The above view is looking toward Marfa.
Hikers crossing Skyline Drive at the middle scenic overlook should exercise caution. Drivers can’t easily see hikers and hikers can’t easily see cars.
This structure, damaged in past range/forest fires, has become an anchor for communications equipment. The structure is at a high point at the scenic overlook. This is the highest point in the park that can be driven to. From here, the trail will wind downhill in fits a spurts to the campgrounds.
The steepest parts of the trail start at the Keesey Canyon Overlook.
At first, the trail slope is somewhat gentle, wrapping around the mountain until rapidly dropping down to the Amphitheater.
Not all switchbacks are created equal. Some, like the one above, are extra steep. Others like the one below are moderately steep.
The hiker coming up was making good time. We will soon pass each other.
Three footbridges cross over the dry creek bed at the bottom of the canyon. This is a view of the bridge from right before the trail is at its steepest point.
After reaching the bridge, the trail flattens out as it follows the dry creek bed.
The second bridge’s construction is much like the first.
The trail passes the Amphitheater on the right. Just past the Amphitheater, the trail turns right to cross the dry creek bed one more time.
The third and last bridge, leads to the final section of the trail.
This trail section is mostly flat and follows the dry creek bed.
At the end of the trail, hikers climb out of the creek bed toward the Interpretive Center parking lot. The picture above shows the Trailhead Sign from behind.
Trailhead Sign/Marker/Kiosks provide trail maps.
The Interpretive center is next to the trailhead.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!