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.

Caprock Canyon State Park

I had another great time in a Texas canyon. I did get caught out on the trail low on water. The temperature rose fairly quick and I had to backtrack on a trail that added an additional mile plus. The park is located about two hours southeast of Amarillo. Caprock Canyon State Park has a different look from Palo Duro Canyon and the Grand Canyon. Caprock Canyon does not have a flat top look around the rim of the canyon. The rim is more jagged and uneven than the other two. I was once again amazed at the vastness of the canyon. I would need several trips to the canyon to see half of what I want to see. I did not see any buffalo but I did not realize it. I did not see the natural bridge and I want to see it the next time I visit. I also did not get to walk the rim but that is something I will also need to work on. I hiked the Canyon Loop Trail and the Upper Canyon Trail at the North Prong part of the canyon. I was going to also hike the Haynes Ridge Overlook Trail but that is where my problems started. The trail was literally straight up which was not a problem. It also had a small rock hole opening to get to the rim. I am to big to try to squeeze through an opening that small. I had to backtrack and try the other side of the trail. It was also extremely steep and I was already running low on water. I decided I would have to try at a different time. I still loved seeing all the geologic rock formations. The reds were also deeper and darker that Palo Duro Canyon. I did get to see the Last Dance hoodoo which is a popular sight at the park. I was also fascinated by the white crystal bands in the red rocks.20171220_124257.jpg20171220_122604.jpg20171220_124508.jpg20171220_124758.jpg20171220_133003.jpg20171220_133705.jpg

I cannot wait to get another chance to get back to this park. I will make the effort to see the natural bridge, the buffalo and get to the rim.

This hike was also the 6th hike of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. As of now I have no hikes planned. I do have some state parks I want to go to this year. I will blog about those parks and my 52 Hike Challenge plan for 2018.

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.

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.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park

Lake Mineral Wells State Park is located about an hour and a half west of the DFW metroplex. It is well worth the drive. This CCC park has many different things to do and see that you will not get bored looking for adventure. I have already been here twice so I will blog about both trips at once. The first time out it was rainy and the guided tour was cancelled but my son and I stayed anyway to have some fun. We did not hike far but we stayed for hours and the heavy rain never arrived. The second trip, I was hiking alone and covered some other areas of the park I did not get to the first time around. I also repeated some parts because it was hot and dry and I was able to get to different places without worrying about slick surfaces.

The CCC structures are prominent at the trailheads where we started. There are benches, tables, ovens and the famous overlook are all CCC structures.20170304_135240.jpg20170304_134439.jpg20170304_151913.jpg

Even though it was lightly raining there were still people rock climbing and rappelling on the huge rocks everywhere. It is like an adventure park within the state park. Plus there is Lake Mineral Wells for boating and a canoe trail and it also has a sand beach. On the trails it was interesting walking between the large rocks and looking up at how high they were at 90 degree angles from the ground. Also the trees that are growing between the rocks were amazing. The CCC steps to get to the top of the overlook were also  something else. 20170304_135309.jpg20170304_140619.jpg20170304_140444.jpg20170304_143609.jpg20170304_142612.jpg20170304_144234.jpg20170304_144112.jpg

On the warm sunny day I did more of a hike around the lake on the Red Waterfront Trail. The trees were green and the lake was beautiful on the clear day. It was like a whole different park. I did get lost several times in the same place as last time. Going north of the overlook the trail map does not have any marked trails and the trails that are there come and go. I guess we were not to go that far north on the east side of the lake. There are trails on the northwest side of the lake that go to the far north part of the park. I have not been to those trails yet but I need to see more of the park. Maybe next time I will get to that part.20170608_124718.jpg20170608_133718.jpg20170608_132434.jpg20170608_133247.jpg20170608_133237.jpg

I am surprised at all the activities at this park. I am looking forward to going to the others trails I did not get to the first two times. I hope they do the guided tour again because it was supposed to go to places only a park guide can take people.

Next up a Fort Worth hike where I literally come face to face with nature.