Tyler State Park

I had heard good things about Tyler State Park before my first visit. I did not think much about the park before the visit but some friends said it is a great park and a must see in east Texas. It is located in Tyler, TX which about and hour and forty minutes due east of Dallas. East Texas is known for huge pine trees and Tyler State Park did not disappoint. The trees are about 100 feet tall but they look much taller from where I was standing. Walking through this park is just mesmerizing, one of the pictures I took is actually my start up screen on my computer. This is also a CCC park so there also rock structures mixed in with all the natural beauty. This is my favorite east Texas park of the five I have been to so far. The gem of the park in my opinion is the Whispering Pines Trail. It is only two thirds of a mile long but it has everything the park is about in this short distance. The trail has spectacular tree views, water features and a good change of elevation. The park also surrounds a lake and the attached pond. My first trip here I hiked the aforementioned Whispering Pine Trail and the Lakeshore Trail. Neither trail had significant elevation change but I knew that parts of the park must have some trails with challenging elevation changes since the paved roads in the park had dramatic elevation changes. I will get to those later. You can see the CCC workmanship on the Whispering Pine Trail early as you will pass either the children’s wading pool or the rock waterfall depending on which way you start the loop.20170222_105439.jpg20170222_102818.jpg20170222_103440.jpg20170222_104429.jpg20170222_105636.jpg20170222_105032.jpg20170222_104314.jpg20170222_103257.jpg

Hiking on the Whispering Pines Trail I also crossed over creeks on small bridges that were fed by the natural spring called Beauchamp Springs. Beauchamp Springs also feeds the rock waterfall. I had my hiking partner, Dade, with me that day also. 20170222_105420.jpg20170222_103702.jpg

The Lakeshore Trail was another relatively flat trail with more picturesque views of the trees and the lake. A beaver dam separates the lake from the pond, appropriately named Beaver Pond.20170222_111427.jpg20170222_111543.jpg20170222_113553.jpg20170222_111533.jpg

The trails were clearly marked and there were plenty of tree and plant description signs so you know what you are looking at. The park map and trail map are clear and precise so it is hard to get lost. You will know the difference between the loblolly pine and shortleaf pine just by reading the plaques by each tree.

I had a wonderful time here and for a long time wanted to come back and see the other parts of the park. I was lucky enough to find two trail runs that the park was hosting. I did the Pineywoods Ultra 10K yesterday. At this run I found out that this park has trails with elevation changes that are lung busting. The hills were not too steep but they went on, for what seems like miles. I did get a few pictures after the run but nothing like the first trip. The drive out here was great with the low lying fog hovering over the grasslands and lakes. It was very surreal looking at the fields at times that I have only seen on TV. I get another chance in January to visit the park as I have another trial run. I should get to do some hiking before the run next time.

I think I will stay in east Texas for the next four state parks.

Stephen F. Austin State Park

I will get to the recurring themes, first I have never heard of this park until I signed up for the trail race. Secondly, this is the second of many state parks that I have and will do trail races. Stephen F. Austin State Park is located in San Felipe, TX, which is about and hour west of Houston. I will start by saying the features of the park are not as scenic or extravagant as some other parks. I can easily say the best thing about this park are the people that work in the park. The park staff is by far the best group of people you will ever meet. They are passionate about their park and the people who visit. They are extremely friendly and helpful. They are just a great group of people. As for the park, do not get me wrong, the place is nice. The Brazos River runs along the park boundary. There is a golf course in the park which was the first time I have seen that at a park. The trees are tall and full of moss. The moss was an interesting sight. I have never seen anything like it. I really do not like to touch the plants around but the moss captured my eye. It was soft to the touch even though most plants in Texas that look like moss are rough to the touch.20170324_174715.jpg20170324_175317.jpg20170324_175924.jpg

The trails were very well maintained and well marked. The trail map was accurate and easy to follow. The trail did have one little block though.20170324_173405.jpg20170324_172730.jpg20170324_180055.jpg

The hike to the river overlook was nice and an off shoot trail that lead down to the river was also a nice surprise. The trails were relatively flat with not much elevation change but enjoyable nonetheless. The park was really different to the previous parks I have visited. I could see the difference in the parks located in North Texas, West Texas and the Hill Country. 20170324_175027.jpg20170324_175109.jpg20170324_175049.jpg20170324_175850.jpg

The video depicts how high the overlook is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWeKRUxhhAY

Lastly, I stayed at a screened shelter at the park and the weather was hit or miss with what I thought was just heavy rain. I heard sirens and I was thinking well this is not going to be good. The park ranger informed those who could possibly be affected by the weather that we were under a tornado warning. As I scrambled to get my phone to find out which was worse a tornado watch or warning I realized I did not have cell service. I survived the scare and we did not get a drop of water. I enjoyed my time at the park and if I am in the area I will definitely return.

Next up is my first trip to east Texas. I had an amazing time at the next park. It was surprisingly one of my favorite parks so far.

 

San Angelo State Park

I never heard of this park until a few months prior to hiking here my daughter had a softball tournament in San Angelo. At the time I wanted to go hiking through the park but the way the games were set up I never got a chance. The area and parts of the city made me want to go back to the park and see what it had to offer. I then saw a 5K trail run taking place inside the park and I signed up. I could now see the park and also get a trail race. San Angelo is about four and a half hours west south west of the DFW metroplex. The park boast longhorns, rattlesnakes and mountain views. I got to see two of the three thankfully the less poisonous of the three. The trail map does not do the park justice and the entire park is a scenic vista. The park is also located on O.C. Fisher Lake. My hike started at the scenic overlook on the south side of the park and then on to Burket Trail.20170310_165558.jpg20170310_181956.jpg20170310_154105.jpg

On the Burket Trail you get a good view of cactus and the red dirt trails. The trail has a several different surfaces which makes it a visually spectacular hike.20170310_173131.jpg20170310_172921.jpg20170310_171052.jpg20170310_173628.jpg

I had some daylight left so I hiked one more trail. I went to the Tasajillo Flats Trail and saw a wonderful sunset over the west Texas desert and mountains. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVQxPI_1py8&t=28s20170310_183710.jpg20170310_184114.jpg20170310_183921.jpg

I had a great time hiking in the evening and then had an early morning 5K trail run. I had my best time of the year and got another view of the park from the north side. The pictures at that part of the park did not come out but trust me there are some pictures of a mountain range in the distance.

The next park is in the Houston area and it was used as a camping area for another trail race I had the next day. The park follows the trends of I have never heard of the park before and a park I have a trail run.

Mother Neff State Park

I was suppose to go to this state park for my First Day Hike but it was raining so I thought it was cancelled. The hike went on and it had over 100 people. I was suppose to start my 52 Hike Challenge at this park. The park is located in Moody, TX which is about forty minutes south west of Waco. The park has everything I liked from the previous parks I visited except a waterfall. The park map was not the best but the park is a must visit for Texas State Park lovers. It has wildlife, ponds, CCC structures and some good elevation change trails. The park entrance and headquarters are new and they look good. It is hard to explain why I like this park so much but I just like it. I started out in this prairie land to the first pond. The pond had clear water and a bird watch.20170315_133920.jpg20170315_133941.jpg20170315_132808.jpg

After a long hike in the plains, I get to the rocky single track trail with some elevation change. The trail leads to many of the other scenic spots in the park.20170315_135103.jpg20170315_135515.jpg

This trail lead to the Wash Pond. The pond is small but the glassy top was a pleasant surprise.20170315_135638.jpg20170315_135854.jpg

As I continued on the trail, I knew I was headed to the cave like rock formations in the park. This was also the most challenging part of the hike. The term challenging being relative to this trail. The trail system in the park is mostly flat but as I stated previously it has some good elevation change.20170315_140920.jpg20170315_141224.jpg20170315_140924.jpg20170315_141355.jpg

I just had to backtrack for a while then continued on the trail to another park favorite, the Rock Tower. This is a CCC structure that overlooks the park and surrounding countryside. It is a must for all those that visit to go up those stairs and see the view.20170315_142300.jpg20170315_142135.jpg20170315_142345.jpg20170315_142510.jpg

I thought I was done seeing all the park had to offer so I was heading out. I literally ran into three of the biggest deer I have ever seen and they scared the crap out of me. I tried a different and more creative way back the the parking lot and got lost in the prairie area. It all started to look alike. I got a video of of cow crossing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5k5EHbLxCgY and that was another what the heck moment. Adios till next time.20170315_152010.jpg

Next up is an adventure in the Texas desert.

 

Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales Falls State Park is a well known state park in Johnson City, TX which is about forty five minutes to an hour west of Austin. This was a “bucket list” hike for me for the 52 Hike Challenge. I wanted to go to this place ever since I heard about it. This was the destination of the trip I was most excited about. I had very high expectations of this park and it did not disappoint. The only negative was not really a negative but the trails leading to the falls were not marked at all but there were so many ways to get to the falls it was not a problem. It took me about a half of mile to realize that I could get to the falls at any one of the unmarked paths to the falls. Once again the wind was extremely gusty but since the hike was in a valley it did not affect the hike. Another windy video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WjnGUXxyeg The falls were flowing pretty good even though there was not much rain the prior week. The bottom level had a sandy beach and long narrow falls.20170122_13092720170122_13110720170122_131154

The water was very clear. I was surprised by the clarity of the water. It looked downright drinkable. The clear water exposed the different levels and layers of rocks below the surface.

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I trekked up the next two levels of the falls and found a rock beach and steeper falls and the water was rushing down at a good pace. This part of the falls was awesome, it was so exciting getting up close and personal to the water. The sounds of the roaring waterfalls and the wind was an epic soundtrack to the views.20170122_133637.jpg20170122_133635.jpg20170122_13343320170122_133604

Seeing these falls made this trip well worth the travel.20170122_133632.jpg20170122_133720

This was an awesome two day trip to the hill country. I made plans to return and have already returned for another two day that also included another state park. I was just so impressed of what the Texas State Parks have to offer. I was absolutely speechless after this trip. My next trip was up to the northern part of the hill country at a park I have wanted to see but got rained out the first time around.

 

Miscellaneous Hiking Post with a List

I know the this post was suppose to be about the waterfall Texas state park in the middle of the hill country but I am changing it up. I have been googling, reading other blogs and looking at my social media for what hikes are out there that I might want to do. I would like to conquer Texas, for the most part, but there are so many places in the surrounding states that I want to hike.

The point is that I have been to 23 Texas State Parks, 13 Nature/Wildlife Preserves/Parks, 3 National Forest, 2 Arkansas State Parks, 1 Oklahoma State Park and 1 National Park and it seems like I have been nowhere. The best part of the problem is that I find more places to hike and more places I want to see.

In Texas alone I found out about the Lone Star Hiking Trail. This is a thru hike in Texas just north of Houston covering 96 miles. There are an additional 32 miles over crossovers and footpath only trails in which the length ends up being 128 miles. It is also the longest wildness footpath in Texas and the only long distance National Recreation Trail in Texas. I am saying I will hike the entire thing but parts of it would be nice and who knows completion might be possible.

I also have a fascination of summit/ peak hikes. I am a dayhiker for the most part so they would to be able to be completed in an out and back day hike. It is possible, I have done a 12500 feet above sea level hike that started at around 9000 feet above sea level in a half of day. In west Texas there are a couple of places with 8000 foot peaks which would be the highest in the state. I would like to hike all of them. I am not talking about 8 peaks in 8 days but over time getting to the summit of all of them would be nice.

I also have unfinished business in Arkansas. I need to get to the summit of Pinnacle Mountain but I also want to see the waterfalls of Petit Jean State Park. These two are my must sees in Arkansas but I also want to do some hiking in Hot Springs National Park and Lake Catherine State Park. The pattern of mountains and waterfalls continue in my post.

I have not forgotten about Oklahoma either. There are two must sees and a revisit. The revisit is Turner Falls Park while there I did not get in any hiking or get many pictures. The two must sees are Chickasaw National Recreation Area and Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. Once again I want to be on the mountain tops and see the waterfalls.

I read a bunch of list that people want to do i.e. Bucket List or 40 before 40 list. First I am not planning on kicking the bucket anytime soon and secondly I am closer to 50 than 40 so that is out of the question. So I am making a 15 by 50 list for myself. A big part of the list is embedded in the above post but I will list them out not in any particular order.

  1. Hike to the Mount Scott Observation Area
  2. Hike to the Guadalupe Peak
  3. Hike El Capitan
  4. Summit Elk Mountain(WMNR)
  5. Summit Pinnacle Mountain
  6. Summit Mountain Top Trail(HSNP)
  7. Hike to Cedar Falls(PJSP)
  8. Hike the Canyon Loop Trail(Caprock Canyon SP)
  9. Hike the Lighthouse Trail(Palo Duro Canyon SP)
  10. Hike the Rock Garden Trail(Palo Duro Canyon SP)
  11. Summit Old Baldy(Garner SP)
  12. Complete Crystal Cave Trail(Garner SP)
  13. Complete East Trail(Lost Maples SNA)
  14. Find the Twin Falls(Pedernales Falls SP)
  15. Hike to the Moss Lake Trail and back on the Echo Canyon Trail(Enchanted Rock SNA)

My list is not particularly difficult and it will not change after I complete each hike so people do some don’t. I will do another when I am finished or 50 whichever one comes first.

Next blog post will have words about waterfalls and pictures of those said waterfalls.

 

 

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

If you are from Texas you know about this park. The park is located in Fredericksburg. TX which is an hour or so west of Austin. I have heard of it for years and now I finally get a chance to hike Enchanted Rock. I found a guided hike that would take me to the summit. I get there early and the park is already packed. The problem was the wind was gusting to the point it was difficult to stand. I decided along with a few others that is was not a good idea to hike up a rock being fully exposed to the wind. They did eventually stop the guided tours. I hiked the Loop Trail to the scenic overlook and back with a little off trail adventuring. I did not stay here long because I was going to another park the same day. Even though this was the first of two trips, I still did not get to Moss Lake. Loop Trail had so many great features to see and I was trying to get as much as possible but the wind was really blowing hard. Check out this video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZJ1hv4bq54 and you can hear the wind. 20170122_09553920170122_09575420170122_100807.jpg

Once I got to the scenic overlook I could really tell I made the right decision and the views from the overlook were incredible. I got a good view of Enchanted Rock and Little Rock. I could see for miles outside of the park borders to the beautiful hill country.20170122_10124020170122_101303.jpg20170122_101350.jpg

Heading back down Loop Trail I found different rock formations I missed on the way up. I was amazed at all the different small trails off of the main trail.20170122_10282220170122_10394420170122_102700.jpg20170122_105101

I am definitely going to have to spend at least three more days here to see some of the caves, Moss Lake, the summit and the rest of the trails I missed. The next park though I traded rocks for water. Before I left I got one more picture of Enchanted Rock so I know I have unfinished business.20170122_110910.jpg

Up next, waterfalls and wind gust.