Forging New Paths in the “Grand Canyon of Texas”

By Chaz Wilson

Many Texas Tech students travel two hours to Palo Duro Canyon to spend weekends in the outdoors. Navigating the canyon has been made easy by trails that lead to some of the most beautiful sights in Texas.

The people who forge these paths are little-known volunteers. Wynn Ross and her husband, Bill, have been involved with creating trails in the park for over 20 years, ever since they were recruited by another volunteer.

Many park patrons use the paths forged by The Rosses to navigate the canyon. Picture provided by Noel Young.

Many park patrons use the paths forged by The Rosses to navigate the canyon. Picture provided by Noel Young.

“I came across a gentleman one day named Red Spicer who was working on one of the trails,” Wynn Ross said. “He stopped me and asked if I was interested in coming and working on any of the trails.”

Wynn Ross said she agreed to help and would go out every other weekend to forge new paths. There were only two trails when the couple first started. There are now 13.

There is a process to creating a new trail, Bill Ross said, which can take a long time to complete.

“Initially, you have to have a destination in mind,” he said. “Ideally, you want a trail that is maintainable and interesting to walk along.”

Bill Ross said the couple would walk the trail multiple times to make it was the path they wanted. And that is just the beginning of the work.

“Once you decide where the path will go, you start moving dirt and clearing limbs away from the trail, making sure not to get rid of many of the trees,” Bill said.

In addition to building trails, The Rosses have also directed the trail runs that take place on the paths they have forged. In 1998, they started off as time-keepers for many of the canyon runs. When their friend Red Spicer died in 2008, they became race directors.

Wynn and Bill Ross have worked to improve Palo Duro Canyon for over 20 years. Picture provided by The Rosses.

Wynn and Bill Ross have worked to improve Palo Duro Canyon for over 20 years. Picture provided by The Rosses.

Having hosted canyon races ranging from 12 to 50 miles, Wynn Ross said a lot of planning goes into the trail runs, but the experience is always fun.

Lynn Haley, Wynn Ross’s sister, said the Rosses care deeply about the trails they have worked so hard to create over the years.

“They love to be active, they love Palo Duro Canyon, and building these trails has been a way to give back to the community,” Haley said. “They built those trails with love.”

Haley said she is waiting for the day The Rosses’ efforts will be recognized.

“I’m looking for the day when the people in the park decide to name the trail after Bill and Wynn Ross,” Haley said. “One of these days, I hope that happens, because they have definitely earned it.”

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