Kent County High Point Trip Report

McKenzie Mountains

Date: March 13, 2001
Author: Scott Surgent

Kent county sits in a region of bluffs and mesas east of Lubbock, among the feeder creeks that eventually form the Brazos River. As a result, there is actual topography to be had in Kent county instead of the usual flatness. The highpoint is a pair of mesas called the McKenzie Mountains in the southwest part of the county, near the Scurry county line. I came in from the north from the town of Post, although easier access is available from Snyder.

From the junction of US-84 and FM-1142 about 8 miles northwest of Snyder, take FM-1142 due north to a point where the road curves west, about 10 miles from the junction. At this bend is a dirt road continuing north, labeled Kent County Road 316. The McKenzie Mountains are visible from miles around and loom in your view as you make the drive up FM-1142. Take CR-316 north briefly and park where convenient.

This being Texas, I was fully expecting these mesas to be well-fenced with numerous "No Trespassing" signs everywhere, but I was genuinely and happily surprised to see no restrictions whatsoever! On top of that, these mesas looked like a genuine challenge and featured some flora that was easy on the eyes, like little Juniper-like trees and green grasses. I put on my boots, grabbed some water and my sight-level and started in. Of the two distinct mesas, the eastern one is larger and contains a spot elevation of 2,830 feet, while the western one has a spot elevation of 2,823 feet. I chose to climb the eastern mesa first and sight over to the west to see if I'd need to bother climbing that one.

There is no trail to the top, except for game and cattle trails. The mesas are topped by a caprock that forms some challenging cliffs. It appeared the best option was to climb toward the saddle between the two mesas, where there appeared to be more weaknesses in the caprock. The hike was short but strenuous, and very slippery due to the rubble limestone rocks. I followed some drainages and achieved a ridge and soon, found a spot in the caprock that I breached. From truck to top was about 20 minutes. I continued along the top of the mesa to the highest area, which was spotted with numerous trees. I sighted to the western mesa and it was clear that I was higher where I was. However, on this same mesa is another rise to the east that was inconclusive upon sight-leveling, so I walked over to it anyway to ensure my successful ascent of Kent County.

Hiking down, I made a minor error in judgment: I failed to note where I entered through the caprock and found myself hemmed in by these cliffs. I eventually found a way down, but I should have noted my route on the way up in the first place. I was back to my truck, and the total hike was about a shade over an hour. Very pretty.