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Trailway

Hiker leaving Clarity TunnelExplore the Caprock Canyons Trailway for a day trip or for a longer excursion. The trail is open to hikers, bikers and horseback riders.

The Trailway stretches from the west, at South Plains on top of the Caprock Escarpment, to the east at Estelline in the Red River Valley. It spans three counties (Floyd, Briscoe and Hall), crosses 46 bridges, and passes through Clarity Tunnel, one of the last active railroad tunnels in Texas.

Access the Trailway from the park, at various road crossings, and near towns. Pay entry fees at trailhead self-pay stations or at park headquarters.

Present proof of negative Coggins at headquarters before bringing a horse on the trail.

Exploring the Trailway

The Trailway is broken into shorter segments, ranging from 5 to 12 miles long (one way). Solid decking and side rails on trestles allow easy bridge crossing for all users.

Carry all water, equipment and supplies you will need. No water is available on the Trailway.

Comfort stations are located at various points on the Trailway.

Caution: Sections of the Trailway are remote, and pass through rugged territory.

  • Please don’t travel alone.
  • Bring your cell phone for emergencies, but don’t rely on it, as cell service is limited.
  • Watch for falling rocks and rattlesnakes.

Trail heading off between two ridges.

Clarity Tunnel

Clarity Tunnel is the summer residence of a large colony of Mexican free-tailed bats. Up to half a million bats spend their summers here.

The tunnel is 4.5 miles west of Monk’s Crossing (9-mile round trip) and 13 miles east of the South Plains parking lot.

The largest number of bats are here from April to October. Bats are sensitive to traffic, noise, light and human presence.

Note: Take precautions when visiting the tunnel.

  • Never pick up a bat, as it may be sick.
  • Always wear long-sleeved outerwear and hats while passing through.

For more information:

Camping

Stay overnight in the park or at primitive campsites along the Trailway.

Set up camp anywhere alongside the Trailway, but make sure you are within park boundaries.

  • Camping fee is $12 per site, per night.
  • A maximum four people can camp at a site.
  • Pay at a self-pay station for one-night stays.
  • Pay at headquarters for multinight stays.
  • No campfires allowed.

Railroad history

Burlington Northern built this railroad as part of the Fort Worth and Denver South Plains Railway in the early 1920s. The railroad began regular freight and passenger service between Lubbock and Estelline in 1928.

The rail line was used continually until 1989. With the help of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, TPWD acquired the 64.25-mile line in 1992. The Trailway opened in 1993.

Clarity Tunnel was named after Frank E. Clarity, a railroad official at the time of the line’s construction.