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.

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.

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.

 

Lake Mineral Wells State Park

Lake Mineral Wells State Park is located about an hour and a half west of the DFW metroplex. It is well worth the drive. This CCC park has many different things to do and see that you will not get bored looking for adventure. I have already been here twice so I will blog about both trips at once. The first time out it was rainy and the guided tour was cancelled but my son and I stayed anyway to have some fun. We did not hike far but we stayed for hours and the heavy rain never arrived. The second trip, I was hiking alone and covered some other areas of the park I did not get to the first time around. I also repeated some parts because it was hot and dry and I was able to get to different places without worrying about slick surfaces.

The CCC structures are prominent at the trailheads where we started. There are benches, tables, ovens and the famous overlook are all CCC structures.20170304_135240.jpg20170304_134439.jpg20170304_151913.jpg

Even though it was lightly raining there were still people rock climbing and rappelling on the huge rocks everywhere. It is like an adventure park within the state park. Plus there is Lake Mineral Wells for boating and a canoe trail and it also has a sand beach. On the trails it was interesting walking between the large rocks and looking up at how high they were at 90 degree angles from the ground. Also the trees that are growing between the rocks were amazing. The CCC steps to get to the top of the overlook were also  something else. 20170304_135309.jpg20170304_140619.jpg20170304_140444.jpg20170304_143609.jpg20170304_142612.jpg20170304_144234.jpg20170304_144112.jpg

On the warm sunny day I did more of a hike around the lake on the Red Waterfront Trail. The trees were green and the lake was beautiful on the clear day. It was like a whole different park. I did get lost several times in the same place as last time. Going north of the overlook the trail map does not have any marked trails and the trails that are there come and go. I guess we were not to go that far north on the east side of the lake. There are trails on the northwest side of the lake that go to the far north part of the park. I have not been to those trails yet but I need to see more of the park. Maybe next time I will get to that part.20170608_124718.jpg20170608_133718.jpg20170608_132434.jpg20170608_133247.jpg20170608_133237.jpg

I am surprised at all the activities at this park. I am looking forward to going to the others trails I did not get to the first two times. I hope they do the guided tour again because it was supposed to go to places only a park guide can take people.

Next up a Fort Worth hike where I literally come face to face with nature.