Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge is located in Sherman, TX which is an hour north of Dallas. I had never heard of this place before visiting. I had no idea what to expect to see on this hike. I randomly picked the Haller’s Haven Trail. It seemed like a good trail to start with and the distance was not too long or short. The lady at the visitor’s desk did mention that it is legal to hunt on this trail. I am not a hunter but she said if you see some cars already there you might want to hike elsewhere due to possible hunters shooting. I was intrigued by the possibility of being shot so I posed the question of what would they be hunting. She replied small game animals like squirrels and other small rodents. So I decided to take my chances if people were already out there to hike anyway. What is the worst that could happen, I get hit in the foot by 410 shot or a .22 slug. Not too surprising there were no cars at the trailhead when I got there. The terrain was flat but the trails were really nice. I kept thinking to myself these are the perfect flat trail running trails. They were wide and tree lined. You could see small rolling hills in front of you and behind you. The trail did have one stretch of uphill hiking but it was not steep and relatively not that long. There were two small ponds and Lake Texoma on the trail. I also like the bridge that was near the beginning of the trail. There was nothing to scenic unless you like birding. I am guessing that this is what it is most known for. There were all different types of birds everywhere. As for anything else not much to see. It was a relaxing stroll the day before race day.  20180216_133454.jpg20180216_133627.jpg20180216_133943.jpg20180216_134012.jpg20180216_140034.jpg20180216_135240.jpg20180216_141952.jpg20180216_135719.jpg

This was the second wildlife refuge I have visited. They are vastly different. In retrospect this place is also very different than the state park nearby and a natural public use area. This was hike 16 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

 

Eisenhower State Park

Eisenhower State Park is located in Denison, TX which is about an hour and a half north of Dallas. The park is on the Texas side of Lake Texoma which is on the Texas-Oklahoma border. The park is named after Dwight D. Eisenhower our 34th President and a Texas native. I have driven through Denison many times but never thought to go to this state park. I did not know what I was missing. This park has a little of everything. It has two beaches on the lake. One is a very small rocky beach and the other is a small sandy beach. They are both surrounded by high cliffs and the sandy one has coves and some bouldering opportunities. This park also has some good hiking trails and the views from the cliffs are can’t miss. Standing on top of the cliffs and seeing the waves crash into the rocks below is a sight to see. I did not expect much when going to this park but left extremely surprised on how much I liked this park. Hiking down to the sandy beach was nice and then you see the coves and a small boulder field. I took the opportunity to do some bouldering to the coves. Once again hiking up the boulders you get a good view of the waves moving across the inlet and against the rocks. DSC00291.JPGDSC00299.JPGDSC00309.JPG20180216_113954.jpg20180216_114343.jpg20180216_114907.jpg20180216_115003.jpg20180216_115200.jpgDSC00332.JPG

This was a great park to visit. I would like to come back when it is warmer and the sun is out. This was hike 15 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. This one was one of the best so far.

I finally got to another state park and the next is a wildlife refuge.

 

Quanah Hill

Quanah Hill park is located in Weatherford, TX which is about twenty minutes west of Fort Worth. The park is across the road from Lake Weatherford and is sort of hidden off the road in a gated parking lot. I passed it when I thought my GPS was wrong. I followed a car with a bike on the back and was lucky enough that the car was actually going to the park. This is another park in which the main activity is mountain biking. The trails had the typical mountain bike course set up. It had plenty of switchbacks and hills that were not trail running or state park hills. Those types are hills are long and occasionally steep but mountain bike hills are short and steep. Quanah Hill had plenty of surprises for a mountain bike trail. I will say this to start, it would be one heck of a trail run race set up. I was planning on a three and a half mile hike but ended up doing almost five miles. I got on the wrong trail like I usually do and added the mileage but it was worth it. The thing that makes this trail better than all other mountain bike trails I have hiked is that there is a constant change of elevation. The hike does not give you a break. I was going up or down a hill the entire time. A flat spot on the trails was a rarity. I like this type of hike because it makes a simple hike more difficult. The constant elevation change is taxing on the legs and I get a great workout without having to go a longer distance. The trail had a mountain hike feel also with narrow trails along a steep cliff. Another plus of these trails are the stuff on the side of the trails. There are some odd things on the side of the trails and I had a difficult time telling what was placed there on purpose or left by a mistake or just littering. The horse head and toilet were most amusing. Lastly the signs on the trails were both informative and comical. DSC00240.JPGDSC00246.JPGDSC00255.JPGDSC00258.JPGDSC00256.JPGDSC00275.JPGDSC00271.JPG

This has been one of my favorite trails to hike. The funny thing is that I have never heard of this trail until a trail runner on Facebook was looking for anybody to runs trails here. This was hike 14 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

I am going to get to those four state parks.

Squabble Creek Park

Squabble Creek Park is a park for mountain biking and has some good hiking trails also. It is located in Rockwall, TX which is about thirty minutes east of Dallas. I hiked this trail because I was going to do a trail race on these trails. Squabble Creek like most mountain bike trails have so many switchbacks with short steep elevation changes. The park also had a long stretch of flat trail that winds between trees and along a creek. I hiked parts of all the loops except Loop 6. The park is clean and very quiet even though it is in the middle of a neighborhood and some construction is ongoing. I got plenty of miles in this small park due to all the switchbacks. The park was surprisingly muddy since it had not rain in a few days. I can see this park getting washed out a bunch with just a little rain. 20180126_123809.jpg20180126_124816.jpg20180126_124116.jpg20180126_124447.jpg20180126_124500.jpg20180126_125520.jpg

I had a nice hike in the small park. The next day it was a muddy mess during the trail run. The was hike 13 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

I have some state parks I want to get to in the next few weeks. I also have a couple of trails runs that will get into some new areas of the state.

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve

This park is located on the west side of the city of Plano, TX. Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is a very nice city park. The park is clean and the the trails are well maintained. There is a mix of concrete and natural trails. I always prefer the nature trails. The park has a little of everything. There is an overlook in the middle of the park, a large creeks and two ponds. Most of the trails have good elevation change and good views. This has been one of my favorite city parks. I hiked on the Outer Loop Trail, Pond Trail and Prairie Trail along with two other trails on the north side of the park. The park is surrounded by houses and apartments and that is abundantly clear when hiking the perimeter but it still does not take away from the serenity of the park. There are several creek crossings on nice bridges. The park has a seperate mountain bike area which is nice when the bikers and hikers/walkers are not mixed. This will be a good to trail run or road run depending on if rain washes out the trails. DSC00202.JPGDSC00203.JPGDSC00226.JPGDSC00229.JPGDSC00210.JPGDSC00205.JPG

I really like this park and will definitely be back for a run or another hike. Along with Cedar Ridge Preserve, I would definitely recommend Arbor Hills Nature Preserve for a day hike if you are in the area. This was hike 12 in the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

I have one more city park before the four state parks I have my eyes on.

Oak Point Nature Preserve

Oak Point Nature Preserve is located on the east side of the city of Plano, TX. The time I got there it was not crowded but quickly became crowded when I was leaving. It is a nice place to get a hike but not for picture taking. The trash was everywhere around the trail and in the Rowlett Creek. The trails are easily followed and there are an abundance of trails to hike. They are all easy I assume since I only hiked about three miles of trail. The trails I hiked were flat except for section by Go Ape Zip Line and Treetop Adventure. I guess that is the adventure park in the middle of the nature preserve. I looks like it would be fun if you liked doing that kind of stuff. My fear of heights prevents me from even thinking about zip lining. Ironically I have repelled down a building once when I was in college. This is your typical nature preserve except for the adventure park in the middle. There was no big wow factor or big hills and no over use switchbacks to lengthen the trail distance. It is a nice get away from the city and get to some place different park. I did find some interesting looking white trees. I do not know if this is good or not. I was awful as a botany student. DSC00176.JPGDSC00181.JPGDSC00185.JPGDSC00192.JPGDSC00196.JPGDSC00197.JPG

The trails are close enough that I will go again to do some trail running and get to some other parts of the preserve. This was hike 11 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next hike I go to the west side of Plano.

Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center

Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center is located in Denton, Tx and has some very nice trails. The trails are very well marked and clean. There was not much elevation change on the trails but they are a fun hiking experience. I have been to several city parks and nature preserves and about half have trash everywhere but this one was nice and clean.  I did misread one sign so I missed the Trinity River but hiking along the Clear Creek was appealing with good views. This is another park I never heard of but will be running a race here in a few weeks. I like to check out the course before I run it so I know what I am in for. This is going to be a fun run because the trails are nice and flat and just a good tranquil place to be. DSC00155.JPGDSC00156.JPGDSC00161.JPGDSC00163.JPGDSC00170.JPGDSC00173.JPG

This is hike 10 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. This series has put me at different places I had heard of but never been to parks. I have been to city parks and nature preserves but I am itching to get back to the state parks.

The next couple of hikes take me back to some city parks.