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.

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.

Rugged and Raw 10K

I was really excited about this 10K since is was just minutes from my home. I could sleep in just a bit and still get to the race on time. Plus I knew what I was in for because I ran these trails all the time. The temperature was cool but the humidity was high. I could not keep my glasses from fogging up. I had to run the last half without glasses. This was the first time I had run this far on these trails. The hills here are notoriously hard and it took a little more out of me than I thought it would do. The course had constant elevation change and some steep hills thrown in the middle. My time of 1:34:20 was disappointing but with the distance and the course difficulty it was not a bad time for me. The next day I ran a Quarter Marathon in a time of 1:14 so I expected more from myself. I had fun though and it was for a good cause.12031506_897374783679658_3519438867113999048_o.jpg20161124_083530.jpg

Not many pictures but as I have said before, I tend to take this place for granted.

My trail 10Ks continue at one of my favorites Texas State Parks. It is also one of the toughest 10Ks in North Texas.

#OptOutside 2017

Once again, I did an Opt Outside hike. Last year this was going to be my first hike of the 52 Hike Challenge but I decided to start the challenge with a New Year’s Day hike. This year the hike was the first hike after completing the 52 Hike Challenge which was both easier and harder than I thought. I was fine time was but finding places was the real challenge. Like most most challenges when they are completed, the reward is within. I loved seeing all the new places that I would not have been to if it was not for the challenge to get the 52 hikes done in a year. I give credit to Opt Outside for all the hikes in 2017 because I would not have found the 52 Hike CHallenge if it were not for Opt Outside. Black Friday was actually fall color Friday. I hiked my favorite place, Cedar Ridge Preserve. I got five very good and productive miles. 20171124_121000.jpg20171124_121955.jpg20171124_121348.jpg20171124_124730.jpg

I cannot wait to see where my hikes take me in the next year. Opt Outside is just not a one day decision it is a yearly lifestyle that I am trying to adopt for a lifetime.

The next blog is going back to trail running and then back to some crazy good hikes.

 

La Nuit 5K

Equip Disciples put on two trail runs each year. I missed the first one but was able to run the La Nuit 5K. La Nuit is French for the night. As you may have guessed, it was a night trail run. It was not as dark as the last night trail run due to the course being just ten miles south of Dallas. The other good thing is that the race takes place at the Cedar Ridge Preserve. The preserve is just five minutes from my house which takes away drive time. It was the first time I had been at the preserve at night since they close the gates at sunset. This was one of the smaller races I have done so placing was not a problem. I did have one of my better times at 45:38 on a very hilly and difficult course. I am extremely familiar with the trails but it was another hot and very humid summer night. My glasses fogged up and was running blind the second half of the race. The fogging of my glasses is becoming a trend that I do not like. I did take first in my age group sort of. The overall winner was in my age group so I was first in the master’s age. 20861786_1437500566333611_3555400733978351861_o.jpg20819771_1437501466333521_9169155015411579300_o.jpg20776348_1437507006332967_5125797327368839372_o.jpg20861768_1437494453000889_5772890277579984895_o.jpg

I had a great time at the run. I had a chance to meet and talk to some good people. It was also a run for a good cause. I will definitely do the day race.

The next race is a 5K back in Waco. I have been running 10Ks on the road and now I am ready to move up to trail 10Ks. I had already registered for two more trail 5Ks.

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.

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.