Guadalupe River State Park

I have been intrigued by this park for a long time.  I have heard great things about this park.  The Guadalupe River flowing through a picturesque park with high vistas, I thought this would be a great park to visit.  I think I put this park on such a high pedestal.  I really liked to park but it was crowded and the trail system was fairly simple.  I would have liked for the trail system to run along the river longer and less people.  The amount of people cannot be controlled by the park.  The park is attached to the Honey Creek SNA which is available by guided tour only.  I will need to do that hike and see what the other side has to offer.

The park is located in Spring Branch, TX which is north of San Antonio.  This is in the hill country of Texas and a great area to hike all of the state parks.  It is a great park if you like fishing or floating and playing in a river.  The hiking is good but it is more of a water park.

The trails went through many different  types of landscapes.  They past lakeside, vistas and prairie lands.  The trail was very rocky but that is not unusual for this area of Texas.  There was not much elevation gain on the trails even though they start on the river and end overlooking the river from a bluff.20190708_161635.jpgThis part of the river was moving pretty good.20190708_161857.jpgThe river looked like this but full of people.20190708_163920.jpgMy favorite part of the hike looking down on the river.20190708_163955.jpgNear the edge of the cliff.20190708_171401.jpgHiking through a large open prairie.

 

Garner State Park Old Baldy Trail

The first time I was Garner State Park I did not get a chance to hike this trail.  I have hiked some pretty tough trails in the Texas hill country but this one was one of the toughest.  It is only about a half mile to the top but it is a 300 foot incline the entire way.  You get little to no break the entire hike.  It is not too long but on average you get 600 feet of elevation gain per mile.  For reference, to hike to Guadalupe Peak, highest point in Texas, you would get 375 feet of elevation gain per mile.  It is steep.  The trail is partially single track plus some bouldering and loose gravel.  I loved the trail and got the pictures that I wanted.  I once again hiked midweek but I decided to start early trying to get multiple hikes at the park.  The top already had several people up there relaxing and taking pictures.  I met some nice people on the way up and they were going to some hidden caves in the park.  I did not have time to go but I have taken a mental map for the location.  20190708_085743.jpgView from the top20190708_090047.jpgAnother view from the top, the water is so clear you can see the bottom of the river20190708_090326.jpgTrail near the top20190708_085558.jpgHalfway there and feeling the burn20190708_084413.jpgAt the beginning20190708_092004.jpgWhat a way to start

I cannot wait to get back and finish some other trails at Garner State Park.

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.

 

Government Canyon State Natural Area

Government Canyon SNA is located 10 minutes northwest of San Antonio. I was hoping it would be like Hill Country SNA which is about 45 minutes away. I was surprised that is was not really like Hill Country SNA. The area has been inundated with rain so parts of the park were not hikable. I did get to all of the possible overlooks and some were nice. There were some blocked views at others but overall not too bad. The trails were very rocky and I had issues with my ankle I had twisted a few days earlier. I did get 9 miles of peaceful hiking. The hike had some good elevation changes but nothing steep. They have several trail runs out there but I will not run them. I would return to see the rest of the park.  DSC01497.JPGDSC01493.JPGDSC01486.JPGDSC01476.JPG20190128_140006.jpg

This was a fun hike but I would like to see the rest of the park when they open the trails. Next up is a short trip to Arkansas. I hope the rains have not closed all of the trails. I might have to do some concrete trails.

Ragnar Trail Hill Country

I have been wanting to run this race for almost two years. Last year I did not have a team so I just waited for this year asking anybody if they were going to run Ragnar this year. North Texas Trail Runners stepped up and put together three teams. I was on the regular team since I am nowhere near being in shape to do a Ragnar Ultra. The race took place in Comfort, TX which is north west of San Antonio. It was on a private ranch which was nice. The race comprises of 8 runners and 3 distances repeated until all 8 runners complete all 3 distances. I like the fact that we ran loops unlike the road Ragnar which is a point to point race. The weather during the race was perfect. The problem was the weeks of rain prior to the race. The camp area was a mud pit. The course held up fairly well in most places. I decided not to go down early and stay the night to avoid the rain the night before. I was also lucky to pick which leg I wanted to run. I choose leg 6 for two reasons. I knew I would only have to run one leg in the dark and also I would run the longest distance first and the shortest distance last. The first leg was 7.5 miles and it was awesome. The only slow down was a cow on the course. There were plenty of cows around the ranch but this one decided to stop right in front of me. I looped around it and kept on going. The cool temperature offset the wet course and I had a really good first leg and felt great after the run. The second leg was 5 miles of misery. I could not find my brightest headlamp. The temperature was still cool but the humidity rose. My glasses kept fogging up. Plus this was the leg I was running at night. This leg also had the most falls and people getting hurt. I did not fall but I stubbed my toe really bad. I was limping with no glasses in the dark with a dim light. I really struggled with that leg. I survived the night run but I was tired and needed rest. I got two hours of sleep and I was up ready for my final leg. I had about three hours to wait but I could not get back to sleep. The last leg was 3 miles and not too technical. I was physically tired and wanted to take it easy. I started off slow but felt good and finished fast. I finished and felt good and kept on running. My team was awesome and it included my sister. I had a great time with a great group of people. I also had some time with other running groups like the Dallas Dirt Runners, Waco Striders Running Club and Cedar Hill Running Club. FB_IMG_1540128922822.jpgThese are the three loops with the elevation profile.FB_IMG_1540078922437.jpgFB_IMG_1540078936861.jpgFB_IMG_1540128947046.jpgThe trails and views from the trail.FB_IMG_1540129038101.jpgFB_IMG_1540155115940.jpgThe mud fest that was the camping area.

This was one of my bucket list runs. I have done a few bucket list items this calendar year. This race has definitely moved to the top of my favorite races list.

I get back on the hiking trails next and I ramp up my training for the 50K.

Blanco State Park

I was looking at a map of my trip from one state park to another and Blanco State Park pops up as a park I could visit. The park was not out of the way but off the beaten path just a bit. It is located in Blanco, TX which is about an hour north of San Antonio. I was lucky enough to get to drive on HWY 290, 281 and FM 32. I mention these roads because these have some of the most scenic spring time views Texas has to offer. The blooming flowers on 290, the ranch land and small towns on 281 and the canyon views on FM 32. In addition to the three scenic roads previously mentioned, I also drove through Luckenbach and Farm Rd 1623 follows the Blanco River all the way to the park. It was a nice view of the river for miles before going to the park of its namesake.

The park itself is one of the smaller state parks. The trails were well marked and easy to find and follow. They were both out and back trails that stayed along the river. The park seemed like a city park that was converted into a state park by adding cabins. This is a CCC park so the buildings were a pleasure to look at with the rock designs. The park main attraction was a man made damn that doubled as a cool waterfall. I did not get any good pictures because there were always too many people in that area. The hike was easy with few elevation changes. 20180330_115406.jpg20180330_115812.jpgDSC00609.JPGDSC00626.JPGDSC00641.JPGDSC00630.JPGDSC00618.JPG

The whole park experience was a good time. The drive to and from the park and the park itself made the visit worth the travel. This was also hike 22 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next up is the BBQ capitol of Texas where I order pizza.

2018 hiking plans, maybe.

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I am at it again. I already have done six hikes. This year is the Explorer Series so I will be doing 52 different hikes. No repeating hikes during this challenge. I am also going to try not to repeat hikes from last year. Which means going to many different Texas state parks this year. I went to 26 different parks in the last challenge and already two more in this challenge. I looked at a Texas map and began to find some close day trip parks and then some distant vacation type parks. I also will go to a few parks from last challenge but hike different trails. I came up with three list of parks. I am hoping I can do what I have planned out but that rarely happens. So hear it goes.

New Parks for day trip: All of these parks are with a two and half hour drive except the first one.

Abilene SP, Eisenhower SP, Fort Richardson SP, Lake Arrowhead SP, Lake Tawakoni SP, Purtis Creek SP and Ray Roberts Lake SP.

New Vacation type trips: These parks are over three hour drive away and might need to make a weekend out of the trip.

Atlanta SP, Bastrop SP, Blanco SP, Bueschler SP, Copper Breaks SP, Government Canyon SNA, Guadalupe River SP, Lockhart SP, Longhorn Cavern SP, and Palmetto SP.

Repeat parks: These parks will fall under the previous two but I will do new trails.

Caprock Canyon SP, Cleburne SP, Colorado Bend SP, Dinosaur Valley SP, Enchanted Rock SNA, Garner SP, Hill County SNA, Inks Lake SP, Lost Maples SP, Palo Duro SP, and Pedernales Falls SP.

I also have plans to go to Texas’ suburb states of Oklahoma and Arkansas again. Plus  there are local hiking trails I would like to visit and I got a good list from 52 Hike Mike.

See you on the trails.