Devil’s Den State Park Part 1

Devil’s Den State Park is located 30 minutes south of Fayetteville. AR. The park is located in the Ozark Mountains but right outside of the Ozark National Forest. I missed the leaves color change by two weeks and most of the leaves have already fallen off the trees. The area was still full of fall colors and leaves falling and branches too. The time of the trip coincided with a 30 degree average drop in temperature. The hike on the Yellow Rock Trail was in freezing temperatures. The temperature was about 29 degrees at the start and the temperature only rose about five degrees. The trails were marked great like all Arkansas SP trails. I took the three mile loop and turned it into a five mile lollipop.  The yellow rock overlook was amazing. The views were spectacular but I could not get great pictures. I was the only one on the trails at the time but the sun was affecting my camera. The fog was cool to see but also affects my pictures. The fog was mostly created by the difference in the air temperature and water temperature. This is also a CCC park and the hike to the lookout had a nice CCC pavilion at the top.  This trail also had some great rock formations lining the trail.20181126_091711.jpg20181126_091942.jpg20181126_095148.jpg20181126_102459.jpgDSC01353.JPG20181126_102916.jpg

This was hike 43 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. It was the typical beautiful Arkansas hike that are nothing typical anywhere else.

I realized after writing this I missed hike 42 at Bluff Creek Ranch so I will go in reverse next blog.

Emma Long Metro Park

On the outskirts of northwest Austin, Emma Long Metro Park is a nice getaway from the city. I got there early and there was only one other person at the park. I liked the fact it was peaceful and secluded but still near the city. The main trail is 2.8 miles long but there are offshoot trails. I added about two extra miles of fun trails. The interesting thing about the main trail is that is does not run along side of the creek but crosses it several times. The trail is marked well but I still got lost twice. I blame it on the creek crossings. The trail has some elevation gains and a overlook but the creek was my favorite part. The water in most parts was crystal clear. I also like nearing waterfalls no matter how big or small. The park has several different terrains that kept the hike interesting. I was always hiking further on the offshoot trails to see what else was in the park. There was an interesting flat open area with some rock stacking. This is also a very dog friendly park. On my way out, there were more dogs than people on the trail. 20180523_083348.jpg20180523_084457.jpg20180523_094515.jpgDSC01067.JPGDSC01094.JPGDSC01099.JPG

This was a fun hike. It is another part of Austin that is very nice and scenic. This was also hike 32 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next was a flat and fastish 10K.

Barton Creek Greenbelt

This, unbeknownst to me, is a very popular spot in Austin. The trail is a 15 mile out and back depending on where you start. It could also be a 15 mile loop. I did an out and back section between the Mopac Hwy Trailhead and the Hill of Life Trailhead. The hike was a total of 6.6 miles of overlooks, hills, waterfalls, rock climbing and people lots of people. I got there in the middle of the day and middle of the week hoping people would still be at work. Apparently, people do not work in Austin. I had never seen so many cars at a trailhead before. I walked about a third of a mile before even getting to the trail. The trail itself was very nice. Well groomed with little to no trash. The biggest issue was trying to get pictures without random people in the background. There were two main waterfalls in the section I hiked but they were filled with people so I did not get pictures. I chose the section because of the waterfalls and they were very nice but way too many people. The other section leading to Zilker Park had more of the rock climbing cliffs. I did see some people rock climbing on this section. The highlight of the hike was the climb up the Hill of Life. It was a leg busting experience. It was a long steadily climbing hill that was not too steep but long. 20180522_154659.jpg20180522_154704.jpg20180522_161103.jpg20180522_164827.jpg20180522_173629.jpgDSC01054.JPG

I really like this trail. I will try to get back here and do the Zilker Park section and this section again when there are less people. This was hike 31 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next a park with not many people but a lot of dogs.

Mount Magazine State Park

This is another run/hike situation. It was suppose to be a twelve mile trail run that turned into a run/hike due to all the pictures. I actually ran a decent time considering the conditions. The temperature was in the mid 80s which is not too bad but the humidity was at 70%. It was the humidity that was the most difficult obstacle to overcome. Did I mention that the run was on a mountain. The course had a two two and half mile uphill climbs. When you put the heat, humidity and hills together, you get a difficult trail race.

The park is located north west of Little Rock, AR in Paris, AR. The park is very spacious and also has the highest point in Arkansas. Of course I had to get to that point. I did but the sign was gone and there were several people looking at the ground. I had a race to run so after I realized the sign was not there I continued my run. The course had so many views. The course lead runners on narrow trails with a ledge on one side and the mountain wall on the other side. Eagles were soaring below the ledges and you would look down on treetops. Even though it was a humid and hazy morning, I could still see for miles from the ledges. I had an awesome time in the Arkansas mountains.20180512_073148.jpg20180512_091007.jpg20180512_091850.jpg20180512_092039.jpg20180512_092318.jpg20180512_095923.jpg

This was a challenging 12 miles but I would do it again. I more than likely will do it again next year. Plus there is another race in another state park in the area I want to run. This was hike 29 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next blog is the park I have been waiting two years to get to in Arkansas.

Mount Nebo State Park

This is my third trip back to Arkansas and it was awesome. My first stop was at Mount Nebo State Park. The park is located in Dardanelle, AR which is northwest of Little Rock. The first thing about this park that caught my attention was how steep the road is to get into the park. Hwy 155 is a notable road that is known in the area but not to me. It has several switchbacks but the steepness is what really stood out. I also did not have this park as a must visit park. I was in the area so I decided to check it out. I made the right decision.

I got a map and hiked the Rim Trail. The trail had plenty of great views. I also did a little venture on the Gum Springs Trail. The two of many highlights on the trail were Sunset Point and Lover’s Leap. The views from these overlooks were absolutely spectacular. The other overlooks were great but these two stuck out most for me. The hike was not difficult but scary at times. I was on a thin trail with a cliff on one side and a mountain wall on the other. Plus the thermals on the east side of the mountain were blowing. It was tough to keep balance and fight the wind. I got to see eagles use the thermals to dive and rise through the air. Watching the birds use the thermals was another highlight. 20180511_194340.jpg20180511_185024.jpg20180511_181132.jpgDSC00911.JPGDSC00951.JPGDSC00966.JPG

This was the beginning of an amazing three day trip in Arkansas. I was not too surprised of the beauty of the state parks. I liked seeing a different part of the state. This was also hike 28 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.  The start of these 52 hikes have been amazing so far.

Next up is another Arkansas mountain.

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.

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.