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Lighthouse Trail



6.1 mile 9.8 kilometer loop
98% Runnable


Ascent: 361' 110 m
Descent: -361' -110 m
High: 3,120' 951 m
Low: 2,826' 861 m


Avg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 12% (7°)


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Trail shared by Craig Whiteside


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A family-friendly trail that is the center-piece of Palo Duro Canyon.

Craig Whiteside

Features River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers


The Lighthouse Trail is one of the more popular trails in Palo Duro State Park. The total round trip is a little under 6 miles long. As you make your way along this trail, your destination is the 310 ft high rock formation known as the Lighthouse.

There can be a high volume of foot and bike traffic. Go early to miss the crowds and stay late!

Need to Know

Bring plenty of water during summer days as the canyon can get hot.

Runner Notes

Loose rock and sand are present on this trail, so be prepared for constantly changing trail surfaces.


The Lighthouse Trail is the most popular trail in the Palo Duro State Park. The trail concludes with the centerpiece formation of stone pillar resembling a lighthouse that tower 300 ft. over the trail.

Glimpses of the lighthouse formation can be seen from multiple viewpoints, but make sure you complete the trail to fully experience it up close (round trip around 6 miles). The trail begins relatively flat, but as it continues trails split, leaving options for gradual elevations and descents vs. more difficult paths for mountain biking.

The path is mainly packed dirt and rock, but loose sandy paths are not absent from this trail. You do have to cross creek beds along the way, but usually they remain dry during summer seasons.

Givens, Spicer, and the Lowry Trail all have a connecting point on this trail. A trailhead sign indicates any turns to different trails; stay left at each junction to continue on Lighthouse.

To access the lighthouse pillar, there is a moderately difficult climb with possible large gaps to step up and over. Remember to bring water and a shade hat, and rest when needed on benches throughout the trail. Keep a head up for mountain bikers.

Flora & Fauna

Cacti are abundant and grow close to the path, in addition to plenty of other native plants. Keep an eye out, as there are lots of lizards scuffling around if you only pay close attention.

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Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 21 votes


  4.8 from 21 votes
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in Texas


157 Views Last Month
3,238 Since Sep 25, 2015



Kick Buttowski
Nov 8, 2015 near Canyon, TX
Aerial shot of the Lighthouse Trail from a Cessna 172.
Aug 10, 2017 near Canyon, TX
Left to right - Table Mesa, Sunday Creek Valley with Timber Mesa in the distance where the valley bends right, and Capitol Mesa, looking north from the ledge up on the Lighthouse (foreground, very left).
Feb 20, 2019 near Canyon, TX
Capitol Peak
Feb 22, 2018 near Canyon, TX
Left to right - Fortress Cliff in the distance across Prarie Dog Town Fork of the Red River, west faces of Capitol Peak, and Capitol Mesa, looking east along Lighthouse Trail.
Feb 20, 2019 near Canyon, TX
Shorter tower (center) across the Lighthouse base table. Taller main Lighthouse tower is on the right. Seen from the ledge at the base of the main Lighthouse tower.
Feb 20, 2019 near Canyon, TX

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