Lost Maples SNA East Trail

I am still on my running break and I am getting to hike places I want to revisit.  I was here two years ago and loved it.  I have not had a chance to get back till now.  I wanted to do the East Trail because I missed it the last time.  The trail also has two landmarks that the park features.  I wanted to see Monkey Rock and the Grotto.  Plus I love the view from the top of the park and the waterfalls.  The park offers a view of the Milky Way due to the dark sky and lack of light pollution.  I wanted to get a view of the Milky Way and I did but no pictures.  I tried to get a few but phone cameras are not meant for this type of photography.

The day was very hot but not as humid as it has been lately.  I got a good 5 plus miles with over 1200 feet of elevation change.  It was a midday midweek hike so not many people on the trail.  I saw most of the people in the first and last mile.  I was lucky that nobody was up on top of mountain.  The views were awesome like last time but greener.  The rain has kept the trees greener for a longer time.  The hike was just as difficult as last time even though I went counter clockwise this time.  20190707_164205.jpgMonkey Rock20190707_170029.jpgThe Grotto20190707_170712.jpgAlmost to the top20190707_174041.jpgMade it to the top20190707_174712.jpgMust have picture20190707_180323.jpgBest picture of the day20190707_181510.jpgWaterfall

I had a really good time and I still need to do the West trail.

 

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.

Lost Maples SNA Part 2

This visit to Lost Maples SNA was not planned. I had the whole family with me and we were going to spend the day at Garner SP but when we got there it was full and would not reopen till later in the day. I had big plans for Garner SP that day but the derailment did not discourage me so we went to Lost Maples SNA. This time I drove on scenic highway 377. The speed limit is 15 miles per hour for a reason. The road has a real Colorado Rocky Mountain feel to it but with guard rails. Steep cliffs are on both sides of the road and the inclines and declines freak me out. I usual have my wife behind the wheel for drives like this but this was an unpleasant surprise for me. Now if you like some of the most special views of the Texas hill country this is the road for you. The views were amazing when I dared to take my eyes off the road. It was a truly incredible drive but I just rather have two feet on the ground.

The good and bad of having the entire family is that we hike at a much slower pace but with the slower pace I can take in what I possibly missed the first time. This was a shorter hike on the East-West Trail and it was flat trail hiking only. I did get to get a better view of the second set of twin waterfalls. 20170712_151218.jpg20170712_151652.jpg20170712_154619.jpg20170712_155505.jpg20170712_160924.jpg20170712_160931.jpg

I also like some of the signs in the state parks in which I find humorous. Some are suppose to funny like the bigfoot crossing sign in Dinosaur Valley SP. Some are informative like the alligator signs in Huntsville SP. The ones I like the most are the obvious ones like getting to close to the edge is dangerous and there is a cliff behind the sign or this where the trail ends sign and there is nothing behind the sign.20170712_160202.jpg20170712_145257.jpg

I was thankful for the warnings but got a laugh out of both the signs. I did do the steep and rugged mile and a half hike the first time. The sign is very accurate and it was a tough hike and then some.

The next blog will about a park back up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area sort of.

Lost Maples State Natural Area

Let me start out by saying wow. Of the three state parks in the area around Utopia, TX, this was the park I had the least interest. Lost Maples State Natural Area is ten minutes north of Utopia in Vanderpool, TX. The park is about an hour and ten minutes west of San Antonio. I took the short drive up Ranch Rd 187 to find the most beautiful park in the state of Texas. It is just my opinion but this place is awesome. I mentioned the road I took because the next time I went back I took the scenic highway. I will get into my fears of scenic highways next time I blog about Lost Maples SNA. Since this was not the main park attraction in the area I did not fully do my research. If I did I would have been at this park the entire vacation. The park has everything a hiker could enjoy. If you like waterfalls. It has them. What about steep climbs with majestic views? This is the place. Also do not miss out on the ponds, rivers and crazy rock formations. Did I mention the trail along the 2200 foot cliff? It is there. The park is a 3 on the Bortle dark sky scale. The scale number and scale is all good but it means you can see the Milky Way on a clear night. Unfortunately, I found this out way too late and when the vacation was over there was a post of the Milky Way from the park the day after I hiked the park. The trees at the park are amazing and the park has a foliage report showing the leaves changing color. Words cannot describe all I saw and want to see more of. The park only has ten miles of trail but it packs a ton of features in those trails.

I did the East-West Trail to the East Trail to the two overlooks and backtracked the East Trail. My plan was also to go to the West Trail but I got Mike Tyson’d. I had a plan until the hike punched me in the mouth in the form of time. I thought I was just going to speed hike most of the trail but there was to many picture moments to pass up.20170711_171927.jpg20170711_170524.jpg20170711_172655.jpg20170711_172418.jpg20170711_174121.jpg20170711_182554.jpg20170711_182026.jpg20170711_184637.jpg20170711_184347.jpg20170711_185123.jpg20170711_185240.jpg20170711_190837.jpg20170711_191308.jpg

I did not realize how many selfies I took on this first trip. I do not take many selfies because the places are more attractive than my mean mug on camera. The park trail map has six points of interest and I only made it to two. The trail map does not have the two sets of two waterfalls as points of interest. It also does not have the pond with crystal clear water as a point of interest. Also met some people on the trail that said the West Trail has at least two more points of interest that are not mentioned on the trail map. I will definitely be back here several more times.

The next blog is about another park I have never heard of but also was surprisingly great.

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.