Dinosaur Valley State Park

September 2023

Dinosaur Valley State Park

In 2016, on our last visit to Dinosaur Valley, it had been a rainy year, and the Paluxy River had a generous flow of water running through the park. Many hiking trails on the opposite side of the river were difficult to access without getting your hiking shoes wet, but not in 2023. Most of the Paluxy River was dry.

We arrived at Dinosaur Valley on Tuesday around lunchtime after camping the two previous nights at nearby Cleburne State Park. We reserved campsite 13 for three nights so we could have two solid non-travel days to hike the trails and visit the town of Glen Rose. After settling into our campsite, we began planning our Wednesday morning hike.

Dinosaur Valley Campground
Dinosaur Valley - Campsite 13

We chose the Limestone Ledge Trail. From our campsite, we could have strolled the easy Paluxy River trail to reach the Limestone Ledge trailhead but decided to save time and drive to the parking lot that services the Main Track Site in the Paluxy River. The Limestone Ledge Trailhead was on the opposite side of the Main Track Site.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
Acrocanthosaurus Tracks

Limestone Ledge Trail

As the name implies, the trail follows along the top of the limestone ledge that lines the outer bank of the Paluxy River at Dinosaur Valley State Park. It is considered moderate on the difficulty scale. Many sections of the trail were steep and covered with loose rocks that required sure-footing and extra caution.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
The Limestone Ledge Trail above the Dry Paluxy River

While hiking the rugged trail, I thought about all the dinosaurs that once roamed the earth and the tracks that provided hard evidence that theropods and sauropods once lived in this park - long before it was a park.

The Limestone Ledge trail was only 1.5 miles long, but winding steep grades and tree roots slowed our pace.

Dinosaur Valley Limestone Ledge Trail
Hiking the Limestone Ledge Trail

From most points along the trail, there were many striking views of the Paluxy River and the woods beyond. We took our time and stopped many times to examine the plant life and watch for birds and other wildlife.

Dinosaur Valley Limestone Ledge Trail
Paluxy River - Limestone Ledge Trail

After our morning hike, we drove back to our campsite, showered, and drove to Glen Rose to have Green Chile Cheddar Burgers at The Green Pickle. The mouth-watering burgers and fries paired well with a cold glass of iced tea.

After lunch, we strolled around the historic square and visited several shops, including the Bone-anza Barn: Books & Antiques. You know you're getting old when the books, glassware, and other gadgets that were part of your life - when you were a child - are now sold as antiques.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
Green Chili Cheese Burger at The Green Pickle

Thursday, we had cold cereal with blueberries and yogurt for breakfast before preparing to hike a combination of the Cedar Brake Outer Loop Trail, the Denio Trail, and the Rocky Ridge Trail.

After breakfast, we stuffed our pockets with energy bars, filled our water bottles, and strapped on our binoculars for the 2.7-mile hike. The trailhead of the Cedar Brake Outer Loop Trail - where our hike began - was only a short walk from our campsite.

Dinosaur Valley Denio Creek
Dinosaur Valley Denio Creek

We hiked a half-mile stretch of the Cedar Brake Outer Loop trail that crossed the Paluxy River and proceeded north along the dry bank to the Denio Creek trail and Primitive Camping area. Outside of a few areas of standing water, Denio Creek was as dry as the Paluxy.

Dinosaur Valley Denio Creek
Denio Creek Trail

The combination of trails we hiked was supposed to be moderate on the difficulty scale, but we found them very easy - probably due to the lack of water in the creek bed. We could walk straight down the middle without any obstacles.

The beautiful Denio Creek Trail connected again with the Cedar Brake Outer Loop near the park's boundary, then crossed the Rocky Ridge Trail that we used to wrap up our day of hiking and return to our campsite.

Dinosaur Valley Denio Creek
Rocky Ridge Trail

Once back at camp, we had sandwiches, chips, and dip for lunch and drove back to Glen Rose to enjoy ice cream at the Shoo-Fly Soda Shop.

In the morning, before we headed to our next camping destination, we made Potato and Egg tacos for breakfast.

Potato and Egg Tacos
Potato and Egg Tacos

We enjoyed our second visit to Dinosaur Valley State Park and look forward to returning when the river and creeks are flowing again.

September 2016

Dinosaur Valley State Park was 49th on our Texas State Park list and the 4th park on our week-long Texas State Park adventure. We had just come from Lake Mineral Wells State Park, a little over an hour north, where we had spent the past couple of days hiking, fishing, and telling stories by the campfire.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
Dinosaur Valley Brontosaurus

We arrived at Dinosaur Valley State Park around 1 p.m. and got set up in campsite #18. The temperature was in the mid-nineties - too hot for a hike - so we drove about a 1/2 mile to the park store and bought a refrigerator magnet and ice cream sandwiches, then strolled over to the nearby Brontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus models that were donated to Dinosaur Valley State Park by Sinclair Oil many moons ago. After reading that story, I recalled, in my high school years, pumping gas at a Sinclair station. (or was it a Shamrock station?)

While exploring the grounds, we noticed a sign near the entrance to the store: Join us for a "Hike to the Past" nature walk at 9 a.m. Saturday. We will do that for sure, I thought.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
Paluxy River

On Saturday morning, we met Jenna, a local geologist and dinosaur expert, in front of the park store for the scheduled tour of the park's dinosaur track sites. After brief introductions, we packed some extra water in our backpacks and began our hike toward Track Site #2.

Before we visited the park, I hadn't read anything about Dinosaur Valley and didn't know what to expect. I supposed we would see a few fossils or perhaps just the Brontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus models, but not once did we think we would get to see authentic dinosaur tracks!

Dinosaur Valley State Park
A few Dinosaur Tracks

The first tracks we sought were on the opposite side of the Paluxy River. Fortunately, the water level in the river was low enough at several spots to cross by stepping across stones, some of which were not too stable and made crossing the river a little challenging. It seems that some hikers prefer not to get their feet wet.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
Crossing the Paluxy River

We learned, from the guided tour and the informational signs posted along the park's trails, that the tracks were those of smaller relatives of the dinosaur models; the Sauroposeidon, a Brontosaurus relative, and the Acrocanthosaurus, a relative of the Tyrannosaurus. We learned about the many discoveries of theropod and sauropod tracks along the Paluxy River. My favorite was Roland T. Bird's discovery of the first distinct sauropod tracks found in the world! The tour with the park's guide was the perfect way to begin a weekend at Dinosaur Valley State Park. Once we knew what to look for, we could confidently identify dinosaur tracks at the other track sites.

After the guided tour, we said our goodbyes and hiked upstream to Track Site #1 at the Blue Hole. It was nearly noon, and the temperature was in the nineties. Next time we will remember our swimsuits.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
The Blue Hole

On the last day of our stay, we woke to the sound of raindrops splattering on the roof of our travel trailer. BAM!! Suddenly, a bolt of lightning, instantaneously followed by a loud clap of thunder, struck nearby. That was close, I thought. We won't be cooking breakfast outdoors today. A few minutes later, the bottom dropped out and flooded our dirt-based campsite with a few inches of standing water. We waited several hours for the muddy ground to harden before we could pack up and head home. Hmmm. Maybe we should leave our tracks in the mud for the dinosaurs to discover when they take over the earth again in a few million years.

After the mud dried, we left Dinosaur Valley State Park around lunchtime and drove to Glen Rose to enjoy delicious Mushroom and Swiss burgers at the Big Cup Eatery.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
Maybe next time you can stay for dinner?

Our visit to Dinosaur Valley has inspired us to read more about the dinosaurs and other archeological discoveries in the area before we return, someday soon, to Dinosaur Valley State Park.

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