2017 Top Ten Hikes

This list will consist of only hikes I have done this year. I will also bore followers with an all time list at the end of the year because I have one more trip planned this year. Next year I will be doing less hiking and more trail running trying to move up to the 20K and 25K distances at some time next year. This year was my most active year hiking ever. I have hiked over twenty state parks and a handful of other parks. I really want to finish the 52 Hike Challenge within the year and I am on pace to finish early. I have completed 48 hikes this year and I have two months to get four more hikes done. The majority of my hikes have been in Texas but I did get into Oklahoma for a weekend of hiking. I had adventures in the high hills of central Texas. I was blessed to see all different parts of Texas from the piney woods to the hill country and also the west Texas desert and the great plains. I had a difficult time narrowing it down to ten hikes and it might change depending on the day but here it goes:

10. Tyler State Park, Whispering Pines Trail-This really short trail was visually electric.20170222_102938_001.jpg

9. Lake Mineral Wells State Park, Penitentiary Hollow-Not really a trail but it a rock climbers paradise with bouldering and lake views mixed in.20170304_135240.jpg

8. Pedernales Falls State Park, Pedernales Falls Trail System-it is as long as you want it be but you must go down to the falls for a spectacular view of the water.20170122_133632.jpg

7. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Kite Trail-bouldering over mini waterfalls, what more can I say.20170930_173833.jpg

6. Enchanted Rock SNA, Summit Trail-I felt very accomplished summiting The Rock.20170406_095152.jpg

5. Inks Lake State Park, Devil’s Waterhole Nature Trail/Valley Spring Creek Trail-This combination of trails is the hidden gem of Texas.20170405_183904.jpg

4. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Little Baldy Mountain Trail-Another summit but this one combined hiking and rock climbing.20170930_183728.jpg

3. Lost Maples SNA, East-West Trail/East Trail-one of the toughest uphill hikes I had before #2 on this list but worth every step.20170711_180348.jpg

2. Hill Country SNA, Merrick Mile Trail/West Peak Overlook Trail-this was a great hike with better views. I later found out of a similar hike with even better views, need to see to believe. 20170712_092155.jpg

  1. Colorado Bend State Park, Gorman Falls Trail-I was just so amazed at these falls.20170405_143220.jpg So there is the 2017 top ten as of today. I could have easily expanded to a top twenty. I have enjoyed my hikes this year so far and am looking forward to my next set of hikes and hopefully they can crack this list.

The blog will be about trail running. The trail runs and hikes have gone hand in hand on many occasions. I like going to trail races just to hike the park at times.

McKinney Falls State Park

Tucked away in the southeast corner of Austin, TX, there is a state park that has a bit of hill country mixed with a bit of east Texas. Mckinney Falls has both the unique hill country rock formations and the long relatively flat winding trails of east Texas. As the name suggest is also has some great waterfalls. McKinney Falls State Park has a little something for everybody. If you want to see waterfalls but do not want to hike far, this is the park. If you want to be adventurous and jump off rocks into water, this is the park. If you want to hike relatively flat trails for miles and miles, this is the park. I say relatively flat because you will not be hiking up the side of hills at a very steep incline. You will have some elevation change that will gradually wear on your legs depending how far you hike. The best and worst thing about getting to the falls is that they are very close to the trailhead. The lower falls are so close you can hear them from the parking lot and it is about fifty yards from the trailhead if that far. Plus the lower falls are north of the upper falls. Geographically backwards.

My son and I came here on our way back from the Natural Bridge Caverns in which we ran a 5K that started in the belly of the caverns. I never heard of the park until I saw it on TV about hidden swim spots. The hike was to the Lower Falls and then on to the Homestead Trail.20170205_122610.jpg20170205_132139.jpg20170205_122820.jpg

 

We then did the Picnic Trail and the Rock Shelter Trail. The Rock Shelter Trail had some steep inclines and we ventured a little off trail get to some other sights and had a good adventure on these two short trails.20170205_134121.jpg20170205_134505.jpg20170205_134510.jpg20170205_134555.jpg

We finished this trip with another short hike on the Onion Creek Trail to the Upper Falls. This was quite a surprise. The hike was on dark limestone that looked other worldly. We got by the falls and the water was clear and you could hear the falls in the background. The falls were awesome. We had rain the night before and some of the creek crossings were treacherous but it helped the falls. Both sets of falls are not very high but both are steep and among rock structures that people like to jump off. I really enjoyed the Upper Falls and the surrounding area.20170205_140713.jpg20170205_140539.jpg20170205_140910.jpg20170205_141025.jpg20170205_141154.jpg20170205_141712.jpg20170205_142306.jpg20170205_142626.jpg20170205_142649.jpg

I need to get back to McKinney Falls State Park to finish up some hiking and get better pictures of the scenery.

I think the next couple of blog post brings me back to the Dallas metroplex before heading down to the southern hill country to more places I have never heard but wish I knew about when I was living in San Antonio.

Pedernales Falls State Park Part 2

I was happy to be back at Pedernales Falls State Park. I like a good hike to see waterfalls. The first set was magnificent and I could not wait to see Twin Falls. I was expecting to see a mini version of Gorman Falls by the description and pictures but I wanted to see it in person. The problem with this park is that the trail maps are not accurate. There are many diverging trails not on the trail map and if you follow a trail it might be the one on the map. I had this problem the first trip and again this trip. One of the rangers gave me good directions to the trailhead but once I started to hike the map was useless. The strange thing was that I found Trammell’s Crossing which on the map should be in the sight line of Twin Falls. The good thing about this park is that even if you get lost the park is so picturesque that it does not matter.

I started down the Twin Falls Nature Trail which was less than a half mile long. I quickly realized that this trail was steep in places and had plenty of obstacles, especially if you are tall. I got to Trammell’s Crossing which was under water. I went after a good rain a few days before because I knew I was to see waterfalls for two days. I knew it was Trammell’s Crossing because the water was very clear and you could see the path under the water.20170406_122535.jpg20170406_123016.jpg20170406_123239.jpg20170406_124134.jpg

I looked around for awhile at what I thought was still the trail but it was not I am guessing. I go back the other direction and find that the Pedernales River is flowing good and the sights drew me away from my original destination. I was easily distracted by flowing water. I saw some other unmarked trails and a beach.20170406_124604.jpg20170406_124725.jpg20170406_125346.jpg20170406_125802.jpg20170406_131314.jpg

I did not get to Twin Falls but I had a great hike up and down the Pedernales River. I did have to find a the trail I came down on and that was a problem. I was on some jeep trail and I was guessing where I needed to go back up. I eventually made back up to the trailhead and saw a sign that might have helped out prior to my hike.20170406_133341.jpg

I did not discover the falls but I discover some other amazing views of the Pedernales River. I now need a third visit so I can see Twin Falls.

I think the next blog I will get out of the Austin area and actually go into Austin.