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On The Road: Caprock Canyons State Park

By Bob Phillips, Texas Country Reporter

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QUITAQUE (CBSDFW.COM) - The Texas State Park system stretches out to every corner of the state, and each one offers something a little bit different. CBS 11 News and Texas Country Reporter recently explored the trails in and around Caprock Canyons State Park, where some old railroad routes are now making some of the best biking trails.

Out on the high plains of the Texas Panhandle, a group of cyclists pedal along an abandoned railroad line. This decommissioned section of track is a part of the Rails to Trails program, where the state ripped up some old train tracks and put down bike paths in their place. “It stretches all the way from Estilene, all the way up to the Caprocks, to the south plains,” explained Donald Beard with Texas Parks & Wildlife. “It’s almost 65 miles long.”

The bridges, ridges and tunnels of the trailway bring visitors to within a few miles of Caprock Canyons State Park, where Beard is superintendent. It is his park’s responsibility to look over the trails.

Caprock Canyons State Park is also home to the official State of Texas bison herd. “These bison were started by Charles Goodnight in 1878,” Beard explained. The bison are just the beginning of a conservation program that will move our understanding of natural history forward, while moving the landscape back. “We’re trying to take this whole park back to, prior to, European settlement, what it would have looked like.”

Beard and his team are re-introducing bison and prairie dogs, removing invasive plants and trying to create a living example of our past. With time, the park will resemble what the Native Americans saw. And Beard hopes that, maybe, by knowing where we came from, we will always know where we are going. “We should care because this is our history,” he said. “You always need to know where you came from. That’s kind of what I want to see happen here.”

So, if you want to see Texas the way that it looked thousands of years ago, Caprock Canyons State Park is about as close as it gets.

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