Thursday, December 08, 2011
Trail Run above Fort Davis National Historic Site (and yes, you can hike it too!)
Fort Davis National Historic Site with the intention to tackle Hospital Canyon Trail with a trail run. We've hiked this lovely trail many times and have also tried to run it, but that morning it just felt "right."
This is a trail steeped in history, for it provides a perfect vantage point to survey the land leading up to Fort Davis, perfect as a scouting and defensive position. From the Fort's website:
"A key post in the defense system of western Texas, Fort Davis played a major role in the history of the Southwest. From 1854 until 1891, troops stationed at the post protected emigrants, freighters, mail coaches, and travelers on the San Antonio-El Paso Road. Today, Fort Davis is considered one of the best remaining examples of a frontier military post in the American Southwest."
"Fort Davis’s primary role of safeguarding the west Texas frontier against the Comanches and Apaches continued until 1881. Although the Comanches were defeated in the mid-1870s, the Apaches continued to make travel on the San Antonio-El Paso road dangerous. Soldiers from the post regularly patrolled the road and provided protection for wagon trains and mail coaches. The last major military campaign involving troops from Fort Davis occurred in 1880."
The trail head is at the back of the Fort, behind the historic hospital building, the scene of much preservation work today. We ran up the 0.7 miles of the Hospital Canyon Trail, and then ran along the 0.3 miles of the North Canyon Trail where we stopped to take most of our photos. From the top of the North Canyon Trail, it is easy to see the remains of that historic road, as well as the rest of the fort property. The elevation gain is about 300 feet.
Most of the trail is rocky, while some of the trail surface is soft earth. Portions of the trail saw fire this April, but the view and the experience isn't hampered. There had been plenty of rain this summer to start the regrowth.
So we basically ran a mile up and a mile down on terrain that soldiers had traversed generations ago, making it more than just a challenging workout. (And yes, it is a great hiking trail too!)