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.
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.
Garner State Park was the park I looking forward the most to do some hiking. I had such a good time at the other two parks, this park did not get as much time as I planned. The park is located about an hour and a half west of San Antonio. This park is the gem of the south Texas hill country. Garner State Park is the most visited park in the state of Texas. It has so many different activities that it puts hiking on somewhat of the backburner. I even spent more time in the Frio River than on the trails. There are places in the park that are visually spectacular. The river is great and Old Baldy was very nice to see. I did not make it to Crystal Cave but the Painted Rock Overlook was awesome. I had about an hour and a half the entire vacation to hike this park so I had to decide what I wanted to see the most. The problem with trying to see everything is that I saw nothing. The nothing I saw was special nothing but not as much as I wanted.
I decided to hike to the Painted Rock Overlook and Crystal Cave and skip the summit hike on Old Baldy. I also had to pass up all of the backcountry trails. I did get to the Painted Rock Overlook but made a bad decision to back track instead of finishing the loop to Crystal Cave. I tried to go a different direction and ran out of daylight.
I do not think that I had enough time at the park. I know there is much more to the park in the area of hiking. I put family time first and it was worth every second but next time we will do more exploring.
Next time is a revisit to Lost Maples SNA. We took a scenic drive that was terrifying.
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.
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.
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.