Sabinal River

I was back in the Texas hill country this summer. We had a family vacation in Utopia, TX. The city is located in the center of three state parks and is about an hour west of San Antonio. The central focus of the vacation was relaxing and tubing on the area’s rivers. I could not pass up a chance to do some hill country hiking with three state parks so close. I actually never heard of the three local parks and had no idea what they had to offer. By the end of the vacation, I put all three parks in my top ten favorites. I started with a short hike on the Sabinal River which just happened to be right outside of our cabin. The water was crystal clear and I mean bottled water clear.20170709_163432.jpg20170709_192315.jpg20170709_194206.jpg20170709_194717.jpg20170709_195534.jpg20170709_195700.jpg

I love this area of Texas. The clear water and great hiking spots. The area also features scenic drives and numerous state parks and recreational areas. The Frio River is great for tubing, rafting and canoeing. We were there and it had not rained in a long time and the rivers were still flowing.  Plus I can say I stayed a week in Utopia.20170710_171147.jpg

The next blog post will be about the biggest surprise of the vacation. A state park so beautiful that words cannot do it justice. It is the most unique park in the hill country.

 

Cedar Hill State Park

Cedar Hill State Park is located twenty minutes southwest of Dallas. If the location sounds familiar, it is located within minutes of Cedar Ridge Preserve, Cedar Mountain Trail and the Dogwood Audubon Center. The park has many different activities to do like fishing, boating and camping but I am here for the trails. I have hiked on these trails almost as many times as Cedar Ridge Preserve. The park has six hiking trails covering twenty six miles. I have hiked and trail run on five of the six multiple times and the scenery seems to be a bit different each time. The park is in the middle of a restoration project so one of my favorite trails has been closed for over a year. They recently opened two other trails that were closed but the maintenance on one has been a bit shoddy. The DORBA trails are always great but overly protected. If it rains just a little, they are immediately shut down. When open, the trails are awesome. The trails give you a bit of every type of habitat. I have hiked the DORBA medium and short trails but not the long yet. The DORBA medium takes you through forest type areas then beach type areas and prairie lands and also hilly vistas all in a six plus mile hike. At one point, in a grassland opening on top of a small hill I could get a picture of both AT&T Stadium and Texas Stadium in the same frame. The park also features Joe Pool Lake and the Joe Pool Lake Dam.

I will start with the recently reopened Duck Pond Trail and Plum Valley Trail. The Duck Pond Trail leads to the Duck Pond and by a small stream and bridge. Plum Valley Trail Trail connects the trails to an overlook. Plum Valley has good elevation change but is not always well groomed. 20170303_135951.jpg20170303_140224.jpg20170303_140620.jpg20170303_144025.jpg

The DORBA medium and short trails are really nice. The scenery is ever changing and the views are nice. There are not any big elevation changes but there are plenty of elevation changes along with switchbacks. Plus the randomness of the wildlife is amazing. I have seen snakes, turtles, roadrunners, bobcats and armadillos. The trails go by Joe Pool Lake and hearing the waves is peaceful. The lake is not the clearest but it is nice.20170127_145736.jpg2011-07-29_18-56-03_15.jpg20170424_151115.jpg2011-07-31_19-27-33_43.jpg2011-07-31_19-35-31_769.jpg

It is funny that I have been here so much that I take the park for granted. I do not have many pictures and it was not one of my first blogs. When I started the 52 Hike Challenge, I did not hike this park until the fifth or sixth hike. I also ran my first five miler here and they found some hills I missed. I usually do not do many road races but this was the exception.

I am almost caught up with all my hikes so the blog will slow down. I recently headed back down to the Texas country for the summer and had a great time hiking in places I have never heard of before.

Marion Sansom Park

I was on a hunt for waterfalls in my local area and I heard about Marion Sansom Park and the waterfall that is in the park. The park is on the northwest side of Fort Worth overlooking Lake Worth. I tried to go on a day after some rain but in Texas you never know what the weather is going to be at any given moment. The rain never arrived but I did get lucky with some cool temperatures in the morning. The park also has miles of nice trails but none are marked. At least I did not find any marked trails. I basically had to remember how I got to the waterfalls and back to the trailhead. I was lucky to have Dade with me this morning. I thought there would be one waterfall but there were two waterfalls and both were flowing pretty good that day.

The first waterfall we went to was the smaller of two waterfalls but still nice. The trails were well groomed until we got close to the falls. The trails had a bunch of trash around and they got harder to follow. The park itself seemed clean but some people just do not respect the nature area and trash it because they are too lazy to do the right thing. It just makes me mad to see stuff like that. The waterfall area was cleaner than the trail but still frustratingly trashy. 20170314_103435.jpg20170314_103924.jpg20170314_103451.jpg20170314_103513.jpg20170314_104054.jpg

The second waterfall was the bigger of the two waterfalls and it was flowing pretty good. We got a chance to get on top of the waterfall which I like to do and we also got some good angles of the falls. 20170314_105017.jpg20170314_105223.jpg20170314_102155.jpg20170314_102147.jpg20170314_102751.jpg

The park did offer other sites besides the waterfalls and the hike was crazy steep on the way to the trailhead.  It had a nice overlook over Lake Worth and the dam. We also got to hear the jets from the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base. 20170314_100203.jpg20170314_110450.jpg20170314_100208.jpg

Bonus picture of the food we got on the way home at a great hole in the wall Mexican food place.20170314_113347.jpg

I do believe I will be back in Dallas for the next blog then back on the road again.

Cedar Ridge Preserve

Cedar Ridge Preserve is located about twenty minutes southwest of Dallas. The preserve is also the highest point in Dallas County. The location from my home makes it a convenient hiking location for me. I have been hiking here on and off for about eight years and the last two years I have been trail running on the trails. Hiking the perimeter of the preserve will get you over six miles of good hiking. The views are great and the trails range from difficult to easy. There are six distinct overlooks at the preserve and they have great vantage points of the surrounding area. The overlooks on Cattail Pond and Bluebonnet Trails are large wooden stair structures. They help when looking over the trees. The overlooks on Red Oak and Fossil Valley Trails are my favorite. The area they overlook includes Joe Pool Lake and the Dam, Cedar Hill State Park, Cedar Mountain and the Dogwood Canyon Audubon. The preserve is ever changing and depending on the time and season, the scenery can be drastically different. The preserve includes a pond, a small waterfall, several bridge crossings and numerous creeks and streams. 20151126_09164720151215_14481820160218_16302720160218_16470420160218_17061620160917_19064320160917_18461720161124_090542

This is my favorite place to hike and the place I have hiked the most. It is also my favorite place to trail run. The elevation changes are great and I can mix in steep inclines with long inclines that are not as steep. It is like having the Texas Hill Country in my backyard. It say this is the best hiking area in the DFW metroplex.

Next blog is back in Fort Worth. This was a wild and unexpectedly difficult hike and as usual I get lost for awhile and find a steep incline to the end.

Airfield Falls Conservatory Trail

I do not usually do hikes on trails that are not in parks or wilderness areas. I heard about this trail from a friend and had to go see the only nature made waterfall in the city of Fort Worth. As of now there are two trailheads that lead to the waterfall but the two times I went there was only one. The newly remodeled trailhead is at the entrance of the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base. The trailhead is about a quarter mile from the waterfall. The trailhead I use is in the parking lot of the Westworth Village City Hall. The trailhead is about a mile from the waterfall. The hike is a nice hike along the Trinity River. The hike is flat, very flat and peaceful. It was so peaceful on my first trip I passed the trailhead on the way back and ended up hiking over five miles. The jets were always  flying above on both trips. My first hike I was alone but the second time Alexandria was with me. The second hike was done after we had some rain in the area so the waterfall was flowing more than the first trip.

My first adventure to the Airfield Conservatory Waterfall was a morning hike with a learning curve. 20170317_104827.jpg20170317_103241.jpg20170317_110138.jpg20170317_105430.jpg20170317_105348.jpg

On the way out I passed my landmark because everything along the Trinity River looked the same.20170317_112445.jpg

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My second hike was a good time. My goofy daughter accompanied me on the hike. I made her hike but she ended up having fun. She liked that it was flat getting to the waterfall but once at the waterfall she was climbing up and down the wall.20170607_095825.jpg20170607_100113.jpg20170607_100153.jpgAllie Rainbow.jpg20170607_101402.jpg

The is a great hike to a hidden gem in the city of Fort Worth. I think after some heavy rainy days this waterfall would be even better.

Next blog I am heading back to Dallas to my favorite and most place.

Dogwood Canyon Audubon and Cedar Mountain Preserve

I am lucky to have five hiking locations within a ten minute drive of my home. The Dogwood Canyon Audubon and Cedar Mountain Preserve are within walking distance of each other so I decided to hike them both with a special guest partner. 20170626_153020.jpg

My daughter Alexandria was with me for this hike. The Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center and Cedar Mountain Preserve are both located in Cedar Hill, TX which is twenty minutes south of Dallas, TX. The trails are well maintained and clearly marked. There are not many trails or many miles but the elevation change makes up for the small size. I love wandering through the trees and walking up the hills. The trails have few partial overlooks and one good overlook.

The Cedar Mountain Preserve was more rugged and had more different types of plant life. The views over Joe Pool Lake were not great but it was a very peaceful hike.20170626_152221.jpg20170626_152507.jpg20170626_153337.jpg20170626_153444.jpg

The Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center has hiking trails behind the center. The trails are nice with two distinct overlooks and some steep hills. The hike was pleasant and the views were very nice. The overlook had a better view of Joe Pool Lake and also parts of the Cedar Ridge Preserve. Hiking with my daughter is always fun because she is very bubbly when hiking. We had a good time hiking through the dense forest like area.20170626_160346.jpg20170626_160855.jpg20170627_161425.jpg20170626_162050.jpg

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Overall it was a good time and a nice hike. I have been back to hike another small canyon trail and back to the overlook. I really like the overlook. I been to other places with great views but this overlook gets me because it is so close to home.

Next blog I head back to Fort Worth. I get to get to a waterfall and more fun with the kids.

 

Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge

I finally made it to the Fort Worth Nature Center. I have wanted to hike here for years. It is located on the the far northwest part of Fort Worth, TX. I also have wanted to do a 5K out here and run with the bison. The bison herd was one of the major reasons I wanted to hike at the nature center. The good thing about trail running and doing the 52 Hike Challenge is that it gets me to places I have wanted to go. They also have a prairie dog town. I was very disappointed that I did not see any bison or prairie dogs the day I hiked. I did see some bison chips that were huge but I will not blog about that crap. The hike was relatively flat with some steep areas if you are looking for some elevation change. I had to find the trails that had some overlooks and the views were amazing. I found that most of the trails were flat and by the Trinity River and Lake Worth.

I started my hike in the area between the Bison range and prairie dog town on the Prairie Trail. It was well marked and aptly named because it ran through the flat prairie part of the refuge.20170621_155328.jpg20170621_150234.jpg20170621_150518.jpg

The trail lead to the Hardwicke Interpretive Visitor Center which was much needed because I lost my map and was lost for awhile. I replaced my map then had some nice views overlooking the refuge on the Caprock Trail. I liked this trail for the change of elevation and the views.20170621_151220.jpg20170621_151242.jpg20170621_153804.jpg20170621_153802.jpg20170621_154241.jpg

I then ventured on the Riverbottom and Deer Mouse Trails and literally ran into some deer. What I missed seeing bison and prairie dogs, the deer crossing made up for it. The trails ran along side of the Trinity River then back up to the prairie lands. 20170621_152125.jpg20170621_151805.jpg20170621_153549.jpg

I finished my day on the Greer Island/Margaret Parker Memorial Trails. I found this trail interesting due to the fact that it was a land trail to an island. The trail is about six to eight feet wide with Lake Worth on either side of the trail. It is like a natural boardwalk leading to large body of land. 20170621_162140.jpg20170621_163856.jpg20170621_162005.jpg20170621_163258.jpg20170621_163228.jpg20170621_163804_001.jpg

I had a good time on my short trip to the Fort Worth Nature Center. The trails were diverse and I saw very few people so it was peaceful. I hope the next time I am out there I get a chance to see some bison and prairie dogs.

My next blog I will make a long five minute trip across the street with a new hiking partner. Let the silliness begin.