Mount Nebo State Park

This is my third trip back to Arkansas and it was awesome. My first stop was at Mount Nebo State Park. The park is located in Dardanelle, AR which is northwest of Little Rock. The first thing about this park that caught my attention was how steep the road is to get into the park. Hwy 155 is a notable road that is known in the area but not to me. It has several switchbacks but the steepness is what really stood out. I also did not have this park as a must visit park. I was in the area so I decided to check it out. I made the right decision.

I got a map and hiked the Rim Trail. The trail had plenty of great views. I also did a little venture on the Gum Springs Trail. The two of many highlights on the trail were Sunset Point and Lover’s Leap. The views from these overlooks were absolutely spectacular. The other overlooks were great but these two stuck out most for me. The hike was not difficult but scary at times. I was on a thin trail with a cliff on one side and a mountain wall on the other. Plus the thermals on the east side of the mountain were blowing. It was tough to keep balance and fight the wind. I got to see eagles use the thermals to dive and rise through the air. Watching the birds use the thermals was another highlight. 20180511_194340.jpg20180511_185024.jpg20180511_181132.jpgDSC00911.JPGDSC00951.JPGDSC00966.JPG

This was the beginning of an amazing three day trip in Arkansas. I was not too surprised of the beauty of the state parks. I liked seeing a different part of the state. This was also hike 28 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.  The start of these 52 hikes have been amazing so far.

Next up is another Arkansas mountain.

Blanco State Park

I was looking at a map of my trip from one state park to another and Blanco State Park pops up as a park I could visit. The park was not out of the way but off the beaten path just a bit. It is located in Blanco, TX which is about an hour north of San Antonio. I was lucky enough to get to drive on HWY 290, 281 and FM 32. I mention these roads because these have some of the most scenic spring time views Texas has to offer. The blooming flowers on 290, the ranch land and small towns on 281 and the canyon views on FM 32. In addition to the three scenic roads previously mentioned, I also drove through Luckenbach and Farm Rd 1623 follows the Blanco River all the way to the park. It was a nice view of the river for miles before going to the park of its namesake.

The park itself is one of the smaller state parks. The trails were well marked and easy to find and follow. They were both out and back trails that stayed along the river. The park seemed like a city park that was converted into a state park by adding cabins. This is a CCC park so the buildings were a pleasure to look at with the rock designs. The park main attraction was a man made damn that doubled as a cool waterfall. I did not get any good pictures because there were always too many people in that area. The hike was easy with few elevation changes. 20180330_115406.jpg20180330_115812.jpgDSC00609.JPGDSC00626.JPGDSC00641.JPGDSC00630.JPGDSC00618.JPG

The whole park experience was a good time. The drive to and from the park and the park itself made the visit worth the travel. This was also hike 22 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next up is the BBQ capitol of Texas where I order pizza.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park Day 2

I had an early morning start to day two of my adventures to the Texas canyons. It was 25 degrees when I started my second hike in Palo Duro Canyon. I do believe this was the coldest hike I have done all year. I chose the Lighthouse Trail for this hike. I wanted to see the famous Lighthouse hoodoo in the park. I did not know that there were other trails the also get a good view of the Lighthouse hoodoo and to get a really good up close view of this particular hoodoo I would have to break a rule. The hike was relatively easy and at the time I started I was the only one out on the trail. I do like when the trails are not busy. I get a chance to take all the pictures I want without other people wandering in them and also waiting for other people to take the picture I want to take. It might be selfish but I am OK with it. On the way back I saw a dozen or so people on their way out on the trail. This hike might have been a disappointment if there was not so many picturesque views on the way to the end of the trail.20171220_085511.jpg

As you can see there is more trail behind the “End Of Trail” sign. I really wanted to keep going but the sign must have been there for a reason so I stopped and went back. Little did I know is that if I continued on the trail I would been able to get to the base of the Lighthouse hoodoo. I did end up finding an additional mile of hiking off trail on the way back in a dried up creek bed. The part that made up for the lack of closeness to the Lighthouse hoodoo was how close I could get to the other rock formations and the bright colors of those rocks. I liked being in the canyon as much as being on the rim of the canyon. This place is truly awesome and is one of my favorite places I have ever been. 20171220_092341.jpg20171220_090021.jpg20171220_094854.jpg20171220_095939.jpg20171220_080332.jpg20171220_100138.jpg20171220_081334.jpg

I could spend an entire week here and still not get to all the parts of this park. I do plan on going to the Grand Canyon and if it is more spectacular than this then I will be absolutely amazed.

The next hike is at Caprock Canyon. Another Texas canyon with great sights and maybe some buffalo.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park Day 1

Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located in the Panhandle Region of Texas. It is about thirty minutes south of Amarillo. The Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States and is a gorgeous sight to see. I loved this place the minute I stepped out of the car. I have never seen anything like this in my life. I love that it has been a year of going to Texas state parks and I can still say I am seeing things that I have never seen previously. We have wanted to go here before as a family but the cabins have always been booked. I finally got a cabin at the park and I could not pass it up. I booked it and off I went. It had been raining most of the drive to the park but I was lucky that most of the rain was out of the park the day before I got there and it did not rain the day I was there. I was hoping for clear skies and cool weather. I was blessed with both on the two days I was hiking. It was a six hour drive with one stop and some of the drive was boring but other parts were scenic. I like going through the small towns I have heard about through high school sports. I hear about a six man football  powerhouse or a 1A basketball team that is undefeated and then I drive through that city, for me it is pretty cool. OK back to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, I did the CCC Trail on this day. The trail goes around the rim of the north end of the canyon and down to the amphitheater and back. I wanted to get started early but I was delayed getting to my cabin and plus the electricity was out at the cabin. I had a portable charger and a flashlight so that would not be a problem but I was not prepared for temperatures in the teens. I knew the cabin had a heater but with no electricity it was going to be cold. Eventually the power was fixed and I did not freeze. The hike was awesome and seeing all the colors of the canyon was mind blowing.  I was so amazed at the layers of rock and how brilliant the colors projected. 20171219_161533.jpg20171219_144219.jpg20171219_172527.jpg20171219_170708.jpg20171219_170359.jpg20171219_162912.jpg20171219_152414.jpg

Once I saw these pictures I knew I needed a better camera than my phone camera. I have a great camera on my phone but I am not good at taking pictures so I need a better point and shoot camera.

This also hike 4 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. The first three hikes were in my previous blogs on my second trip to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

My next blog is day two at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

2017 My Top 10 Places Hiked

My last blog of the year is a review of the best places I have hiked this year. I was going to do a list of top ten hikes but I could not narrow it down to a good twenty. Plus the order would change as I was thinking about which hike should be placed on the list. I decided on places because it was easier but not easy. The top ten was not too difficult but the order was very hard. I did about 60 hikes this calendar year and they were spread out the entire twelve months. I had to compare the recent fresh in my mind place with a place that was hiked ten to eleven months ago. The ten places I have chosen, I have or will hike multiple times. Two places I have hiked but not blogged about yet. The ten places cover three states, a national park and a wildlife refuge.

10. Cedar Ridge Preserve-Minutes away from home and is one of the most scenic areas in Dallas County. hike2220171124_121348.jpg

9. Hot Springs National Park-This quaint cozy park has some great views. 20171112_103833.jpg20171112_103709.jpg

8. Pedernales Falls State Park-The Texas hill country is all over this list.20170406_131314.jpg20170122_130731.jpg

7. Pinnacle Mountain State Park-The second Arkansas park and a summit hike.20171111_141701.jpg20171111_082716.jpg

6. Enchanted Rock SNA-The park is more than The Rock. Hidden gems everywhere.20170406_092524.jpg20170122_102656.jpg

5. Lost Maples SNA-A nature made amphitheater with great trees, waterfalls and views.20170711_182026.jpg20170712_160931.jpg

4. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge-This place has everything. Summits and waterfalls.20171208_162255.jpg20171001_111717.jpg

3. Caprock Canyon State Park-Home of the official bison herd of Texas. Plus canyon views.20171220_124508.jpg20171220_122602.jpg

2. Colorado Bend State Park-Gorman Falls is amazing but that is just the start.20170405_143431.jpg20170405_134311.jpg

1. Palo Duro Canyon State Park-The second largest canyon in the USA.20171220_082257.jpg20171219_144321.jpg

These top ten places that I have hiked in 2017 maed this a memorable and fantastic year. Next year I hope to have a totally different list of places.

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.

Possum Kingdom State Park

Possum Kingdom State Park is located about two and a half hours west of Dallas. This is another CCC park as it is displayed with the rock entrance sign. I have heard so many great things about Possum Kingdom Lake so I thought all the scenic areas could be accessed through the park. I hate to say that the so called best parts of the lake are not part of the state park and those areas are privately owned or at other parks. Most of the parks activities are centered around the lake and rightfully so. But I am here for the hiking, so I did not partake in the lake activities. This park is not as big as the average state park but trails had some very challenging spots. The park only has three somewhat marked trails for a total of two and a quarter mile. Of course I got lost because of the somewhat to the not so marked trail and added almost an extra mile and half. I also had to do some backtracking on another trail. The trails might be lacking in length but they make up for it in difficulty. Two of three trails are rated challenging. The trails have some steep inclines. There are three overlooks but only two are on the trail map.

I started at the Chaparral Ridge Trail which lead to the first overlook after a steep up hill hike. I was on and off this trail for quite awhile due to the lack of trail markings. I then went to the Lakeview Trail and onto to the Longhorn Trail. The Longhorn Trail also had an overlook of the lake. I backtracked on the Longhorn Trail and reconnected with the Lakeview trail and finished the loop.20170809_120000.jpg20170809_115700.jpg20170809_120004.jpg20170809_122332.jpg20170809_123808.jpg20170809_130211.jpg20170809_130834.jpg20170809_132134.jpg20170809_135112.jpg20170809_132147.jpg

The park is very nice and especially nice if you are a lake person. I am not but still enjoyed myself at the park. I am a fan of steep trails hikes that are hikeable. I am getting use to trails that turn from hikes into rock climbing but here it was just steep hikes.

Next blog takes me out of state on a two day twenty plus mile adventure that tested how far my legs could carry me.