Spicewood Springs Colorado Bend State Park

I got back to Colorado Bend State Park and it was much overdue.  I hiked the Spicewood Springs area of the park.  I hiked down Spicewood Springs and up Spicewood Canyon trails and it was five miles of leg busting beauty.  My first trip I did Gorman Falls and that area but I wanted to do the other side of the park this time.

It was the usual hot and humid Texas summer weather.  I got to hike it with little to people because I was out there midweek and midday.  I can say I did not get lost but just misdirected two or three times.  Hiking these trails counter clockwise was not a good idea.  I hit all the steep hills on the back half of the hike and the gradual downhills at the beginning.

I wanted to do this section for the waterfalls and the crystal clear pools of water and it did not disappoint.  The views were breathtaking and it is hard to put in words all the combinations of sights and sounds.  20190628_101624.jpgA view from the top of the first big waterfall20190628_102138.jpgClear water pool from the waterfall20190628_104001.jpgOver the ledge view of another waterfall and clear water20190628_104347.jpgTwin waterfall20190628_104444.jpgAnother set of twin waterfalls and more clear water20190628_104720.jpgClear swimming hole 20190628_110209.jpgFinal view from the top

The Texas Hill country is the place to be this summer.

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.

Colorado Bend State Park

Colorado Bend State Park is the home of Gorman Falls. The park is located in Bend, TX which is about an hour and forty five minutes northwest of Austin. I have been to five different parks with waterfalls and then I heard about Gorman Falls. A seventy foot multilevel waterfall that will take your breath away. The last large waterfall I tried to go see was dry. Pedernales Falls were very impressive but not as high or as steep as a Gorman type waterfall. I had to go to this waterfall so I planned a two day four park return trip to the Texas hill country. Gorman Falls is not the only grandiose feature of this park. This place has everything from waterfalls, scenic overlooks, caves with bats, vistas, canyons, rock bowls and many other natural features. I could easily spend two days at this park and still not get to every point of interest. I still cannot believe I missed this park in my first visit to the region. The good thing is that I am definitely planning on making a third and fourth visit to the area.

I kept my first trip to Colorado Bend SP fairly simple. I went down to the Colorado River to see the sights from below first.20170405_124148.jpg20170405_124721.jpg

I hiked the Tie Slide Trail and the Gorman Falls Trail. The trails are both fairly challenging trails but both are worth every step. I started with the Tie Slide Trail and the views down into the Colorado River valley were spectacular. There were a few days of rain before the trip so the river had a good flow and the plants were blooming. The detour trail off of this trail leads you to the River Overlook. It was amazing. Here is a not so great video. 20170405_134550.jpg20170405_134311.jpg20170405_134726.jpg20170405_134757.jpg

I could see the top of Gorman Falls from the overlook and I was energized to go down and see the waterfalls. The hike was more technical and very steep in places especially as I got closer to the falls. I could hear the falls and see the tops as I was hiking down into the canyon. The canyon walls were overflowing with water. I cannot explain how the springs were just flowing out of rocks. It was an visually unique natural phenomenon. My pictures did not do it justice and neither did another video.    20170405_142810.jpg20170405_142815.jpg20170405_142859.jpg

I eventually made it to the bottom of Gorman Falls and it was everything I could image and then some. I know there are more spectacular falls in the country but in Texas finding something like this is rare. The falls are so expansive and they seem to be everywhere and the more I looked the more I saw that I did not see minutes prior. I loved the roar of the falls and not many people were there so it was also quite peaceful. My favorite Gorman Falls video. 20170405_143131.jpg20170405_143225.jpg20170405_143220.jpg20170405_143213.jpg20170405_143431.jpg20170405_143358.jpg20170405_144133.jpg

The hike back to the trailhead was a tiring trek mostly all uphill. I was still seeing things I missed on the way down. It is a different view going the opposite direction. I do not always like out and backs but this one was not too bad. I finally saw some people hiking down and when I got to the parking lot it was full.

The next time I visit Colorado Bend SP, I want to hike Spicewood Springs Trail and Spicewood Canyon Trail. I eventually want to go to the bat caves and Tinaja.

Next up is my second trip to Inks Lake SP and I was more prepared.