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.

 

 

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.

Garner State Park

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.20170712_183146.jpg20170712_183759.jpg20170712_183637.jpg20170710_121849.jpg20170710_153039.jpg20170710_121853.jpg

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.