“Take a Hike!” now has new meaning at Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, as the park opens the Harbor Bay East leg of the new South Shore trail system.
The Harbor Bay East Trail begins at the old Harbor Bay boat launch ramp and runs approximately two miles to the northeast towards Fritch Canyon.
When completed, the new Lake Meredith South Shore trail system will consist of five phases of primitive trails totaling approximately 22 miles in length. Phase I will be located in the Harbor Bay and Fritch Canyon area; Phase II will be between Harbor Bay and Short Creek; Phase III will be located between Short Creek and South Turkey Creek; Phase IV will start at the mouth of South Turkey Creek and continue up the canyon; and Phase V will be located between Fritch Fortress and the northern portion of Phase I. Construction of each phase will occur in stages as funding becomes available.
The new trail is needed to address the lack of land-based recreational opportunities in the area. Declining water levels at Lake Meredith have reduced public access to the reservoir, resulting in an overall reduction in the availability of recreational opportunities for visitors. Although water-based opportunities such as fishing and boating are provided, only a minimal amount of trail mileage is available to visitors.
This trail will be for hiking and biking only - horses and motorized vehicles will not be allowed and pets will be permitted only if leashed.A federal regulation is needed to allow bicycles on new trails, so only hiking is allowed for now. This regulation process is on-going.
The demand for recreational uses such as hiking and mountain biking continues to increase both regionally and nationally. According to a 2003 National Survey on Recreation and the Environment, general bicycling was the second most popular land-based recreation activity in the United States. Although Palo Duro Canyon provides a destination for mountain bikers in the region, additional public trails in the Panhandle would help address the continuing increase in demand for access to mountain bike trails.
In addition to recreational uses, portions of the trail will function as a firebreak and provide health and safety benefits to recreation area visitors and surrounding communities. The trail will also provide increased access for emergency personnel responding to visitor safety issues in the area.