Palo Pinto Mountains

The term Palo Pinto Mountains properly refers to a specific cuesta-like range of hills in western Palo Pinto County, Texas. The name Palo Pinto roughly translates to “painted stick” in reference to the juniper trees of the area. Isolated, rugged, and scenic, the ridge extends some fifteen miles, from near the intersection of Texas State Highway 16 and Farm to Market Road 207 in the southwest, to Crawford Mountain just south of the Fortune Bend on the Brazos River in the northeast. The Palo Pinto Mountains are located in, and form part of, the Carbonate Cross Timbers, a Level IV ecoregion defined by the Environmental Protection Agency. However, the term “Palo Pinto Mountains” is also used colloquially to refer to a much larger area, essentially the entire portion of the much more extensive Western Cross Timbers located north of I-20. The mountains have been called a northern extension of the Hill Country, and indeed they are both dissected plateaus featuring karst topography with similar vegetation, including Post Oak (Quercus stellata), Ashe Juniper (Juniperus ashei), and mesquite. The smaller Carbonate Cross Timbers also has a limestone substrate, as does the Hill Country, although the surrounding Western Cross Timbers is underlain by sandstone instead. The high point of the range depends on which definition one is using; if referring to the specific line of hills, the high point is Crawford Mountain at the north end, with an elevation of and about of prominence. If referring to the broader hilly region, however, the highest point is the unnamed high point of Stephens County, at .

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