Are there polecats in Idaho? What is a polecat, anyway? I had to Google the word, having only a vague sense that it was not in the same category as a mountain lion or a bobcat. An internet search revealed that a polecat is similar to a weasel, and despite its name, is more related to a dog than a cat. In any case, there may or may not be polecats in Idaho. But there is a place called Polecat Gulch Reserve with around 7 miles of trails that are great for hiking, mountain biking, and trail running. The trails are not too hard but have enough grade to get in a good workout. You can bring your dog, too! I hiked Polecat Loop Trail in spring and found rolling hills, great views of the city, and high desert springtime flowers.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park, in the Texas Panhandle near Amarillo, features the second largest canyon in North America (after the Grand Canyon). The park offers 30 miles of trails with a fun variety of technical levels. A 700 foot descent to the bottom of the canyon includes striking colors of four geologic layers, southern high plains landscape, and many rock formations to explore. The Lighthouse, a 310 foot rock pillar, is the most popular Palo Duro Canyon hike destination.
I lived in Texas for almost 20 years before I moved to Colorado. In all that time, I never hiked. I was too busy riding horses and dancing the two-step in Texas dance halls (more about that in an upcoming blog). Hiking didn’t become my thing until I moved to Colorado. In fall 2017, I chose Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (SNA) as my first Texas hike. This is a jaw-dropping, knock-your-socks off hike in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. It’s now on my list of favorite parks!
I absolutely love the mountains. And yet my soul sometimes yearns for the wide open expanse of the high plains, mesmerizing waves of grass in the prairie wind. I’ve found just the place to get my range fix. Pawnee National Grassland in northeastern Colorado is one of 20 national grasslands in the U.S. The Pawnee Buttes, rising 300 feet above the prairie, are the most awe-inspiring feature of the park. The Pawnee Buttes Trail hike transports you back in time a couple of hundred years to the days of the wild frontier.