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.

Race the Base 4M

The last trail race of the year was at Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Little Rock, Arkansas. The morning of the race was freezing, really. The temperature was thirty degrees. The race only had one distance option so I was hoping not to come in last. I think there were more road runners on the course than trail runners. The runners seemed more aggressive on the trail and tended not to move to the right when a faster runner was passing. Plus it was the middle of fall and leaves were all over the trail. Leaves on the trail do two things, first they are slick and secondly they hide roots and rocks. They made the race very difficult because the course had more roots and rocks than any other trail race I had run. With all that being said the race was enjoyable and extremely scenic. The mountain was a nice sight and the parks in Arkansas are always nice. My time of 53:45:06 was not too bad considering they threw in a super steep and long hill at the end. The course was odd in the way it was flat but with only steep inclines and declines. I came in the bottom half overall, gender and age group but was not last. IMG_0934.JPG20171111_082716.jpg20171111_082502.jpgIMG_0745.JPGIMG_0747.JPG

I did like the run but will not do it again next year. I did like the fact that I got to hike Pinnacle Mountain, Hot Springs NP and Lake Catherine SP. I also like the race shirt and finisher’s cup.

I will back to blogging about my hikes. I have done six hikes so far. I have the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I have a great problem because five of the six hikes were so amazing that I cannot believe that I can find better places to hike.

Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park located in Hot Springs, AR. I have heard good and bad about this park. I saw both while at the park. It was weird going to a national park in the downtown of a midsize city.  I did not like the heavy city traffic and their was no easy way to get to the visitor center. The parking situation was interesting at best. The best entrance I found was at the Gulpha Gorge campground. It was also where I parked because of a road closure and I did not want to park in the city. The trails were great and clearly marked. As previously stated, it would be hard to get lost on these Arkansas trails. They are more clearly marked than the state park trails. The signs on the trails give you distance and direction. This was also a special hike since it was my 52nd hike of the 52 Hike Challenge. It might not have been a summit or a waterfall hike but it some majestic views.

The majority of my hike was on Goat Rock Trail and Hot Springs Mountain Trail. The trails have a good bit of elevation change and good views. As it has been noted in my previous blogs about this trip, the trees that make the hike great also create obstructed views. 20171112_102748.jpg20171112_101958.jpg20171112_110836.jpg20171112_112144.jpg20171112_103931.jpg20171112_103831.jpg

I am going to have to reblog this hike as a picture only hike soon. I am having technical difficulties. Nevermind I got it down.

I am going back to trail running for the next blog.

 

 

Lake Catherine State Park

I signed up for the Race the Base 4 Miler Run in Arkansas. I looked at some of the local parks in the area of the run to hike. The two obvious ones were Pinnacle Mountain State Park where the run was taking place and Hot Springs National Park. Petit Jean and Lake Ouachita State Parks are also close but not close enough to highway I-30 for a quick trip home. I stumbled upon Lake Catherine State Park and it had a waterfall. Lake Catherine State Park is located twelve miles southeast of Hot Springs, AR. I can never pass up a waterfall. The pictures on the website were great and I decided to go to this park at least twice while I stayed in Arkansas. The park has four trails but I was only interested in three trails. The trail that led to the waterfall was my top choice of the trails and the other two were mountain trails. I was hoping the waterfall would be flowing because it rained during the week. The time of year could not be better also. The leaves were falling and the trees were all different colors. I was so excited for the weekend of hikes and of course a waterfall hike.

I started on Falls Branch Trail on my way to the waterfall. The trailhead sign says three trails three adventures. One of the adventures was closed for hunting. The two trails that I most wanted to hike were open. Falls Branch trail had some good elevation changes and was very picturesque. The term obstructed view came to light many times on this and the other trails in Arkansas. The trees are what make this trail great but also are in the way of the views. There was a small creek with water flowing through it so I was pumped to get to the waterfall. I finally get to the waterfall and was massively disappointed. The waterfall was nothing but a trickle. I could not believe it. A nice hike with good views but the shining point of the trail is dull. I did like the view of Lake Catherine and the swinging bridge was also cool. I will post my walk across the bridge on youtube.20171110_161710.jpg20171110_152655.jpg20171110_152810.jpg20171110_155141.jpg20171110_155418.jpg20171110_155421.jpg20171110_155751.jpg20171110_160052.jpg20171110_160837.jpg

I liked this hike even though it had obstructed views and a water trickle. The bridge and the views of the lake partially made up for it. The trees and falling leaves also make for a great back drop.

The next hike is a long awaited summit hike.

Miscellaneous Hiking Post with a List

I know the this post was suppose to be about the waterfall Texas state park in the middle of the hill country but I am changing it up. I have been googling, reading other blogs and looking at my social media for what hikes are out there that I might want to do. I would like to conquer Texas, for the most part, but there are so many places in the surrounding states that I want to hike.

The point is that I have been to 23 Texas State Parks, 13 Nature/Wildlife Preserves/Parks, 3 National Forest, 2 Arkansas State Parks, 1 Oklahoma State Park and 1 National Park and it seems like I have been nowhere. The best part of the problem is that I find more places to hike and more places I want to see.

In Texas alone I found out about the Lone Star Hiking Trail. This is a thru hike in Texas just north of Houston covering 96 miles. There are an additional 32 miles over crossovers and footpath only trails in which the length ends up being 128 miles. It is also the longest wildness footpath in Texas and the only long distance National Recreation Trail in Texas. I am saying I will hike the entire thing but parts of it would be nice and who knows completion might be possible.

I also have a fascination of summit/ peak hikes. I am a dayhiker for the most part so they would to be able to be completed in an out and back day hike. It is possible, I have done a 12500 feet above sea level hike that started at around 9000 feet above sea level in a half of day. In west Texas there are a couple of places with 8000 foot peaks which would be the highest in the state. I would like to hike all of them. I am not talking about 8 peaks in 8 days but over time getting to the summit of all of them would be nice.

I also have unfinished business in Arkansas. I need to get to the summit of Pinnacle Mountain but I also want to see the waterfalls of Petit Jean State Park. These two are my must sees in Arkansas but I also want to do some hiking in Hot Springs National Park and Lake Catherine State Park. The pattern of mountains and waterfalls continue in my post.

I have not forgotten about Oklahoma either. There are two must sees and a revisit. The revisit is Turner Falls Park while there I did not get in any hiking or get many pictures. The two must sees are Chickasaw National Recreation Area and Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. Once again I want to be on the mountain tops and see the waterfalls.

I read a bunch of list that people want to do i.e. Bucket List or 40 before 40 list. First I am not planning on kicking the bucket anytime soon and secondly I am closer to 50 than 40 so that is out of the question. So I am making a 15 by 50 list for myself. A big part of the list is embedded in the above post but I will list them out not in any particular order.

  1. Hike to the Mount Scott Observation Area
  2. Hike to the Guadalupe Peak
  3. Hike El Capitan
  4. Summit Elk Mountain(WMNR)
  5. Summit Pinnacle Mountain
  6. Summit Mountain Top Trail(HSNP)
  7. Hike to Cedar Falls(PJSP)
  8. Hike the Canyon Loop Trail(Caprock Canyon SP)
  9. Hike the Lighthouse Trail(Palo Duro Canyon SP)
  10. Hike the Rock Garden Trail(Palo Duro Canyon SP)
  11. Summit Old Baldy(Garner SP)
  12. Complete Crystal Cave Trail(Garner SP)
  13. Complete East Trail(Lost Maples SNA)
  14. Find the Twin Falls(Pedernales Falls SP)
  15. Hike to the Moss Lake Trail and back on the Echo Canyon Trail(Enchanted Rock SNA)

My list is not particularly difficult and it will not change after I complete each hike so people do some don’t. I will do another when I am finished or 50 whichever one comes first.

Next blog post will have words about waterfalls and pictures of those said waterfalls.