Best Hikes of 2018 So Far

My last blog and this blog have both been rehash blogs for a good reason. I had plans to visit several west Texas state parks this summer but I have sustained an injury that is aggravated when sitting for a long time. My travel has been limited to just about nowhere. Hopefully, I will be back at 100% by August. I have gotten in a bunch of hikes this year so I will list the best.

10. Quanah Hill-This is a cool little park located in Weatherford, TX. Nice trails with lots of elevation change and clean.DSC00261.JPG

9. Eagle Mountain Park-Located on the northwest side of Fort Worth. This park is just a nice nature park to hike.DSC00033.JPG

8. Eisenhower State Park-A surprisingly good trail system at a park located in Denison, TX. The beaches and cliffs were great.DSC00283.JPG

7. Mount Nebo SP-Located in Dardanelle, AR, this was a surprisingly neat park. The summit trail around the top is a must.20180511_181132.jpg

6. Chickasaw National Recreational Area-Located in Sulphur, OK, this park is all about waterfalls. I love me some waterfalls.DSC00384.JPG

5. Bastrop SP-Located in Bastrop, TX, this was a park I have wanted to go to for a longtime. Although it was foggy he park did not disappoint.DSC00668.JPG

4. Petit Jean SP-Located in Morrilton, AR, this was another must see park for me that lived up to all the hype.20180513_075502.jpg

3. Enchanted Rock SP-I returned to this park for the third time. I got to finish the park and it was as good as the first two trips.DSC00568.JPG

2. Caprock Canyon SP-My second visit to this park located in Quitaque, TX. Even fog could not ruin the colors of this beautiful canyon.20180421_090844.jpg

1. Mount Magazine SP-This state park has the highest point in Arkansas as its peak. Located in Paris, AR, it has some great cliff views.20180512_092318.jpg

This was a hard list to create and I think I left off a good hikes at Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin and Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano. I have at least five never been before hikes planned in the fall so this list might change by the end of the year.

10 of my favorite trails races

I was going to do a top 10 trail races but changed it to my favorites. I did not know how I was going to put them in order so it had become a random list of favorites. I have been out of commission for over a month. I could do some hiking but no running. During the unwanted break from trail running I had a chance to look over some of the 40 plus races I have run over the last two years. I have missed trail running and speed hiking is losing it’s luster. I have finally been released to run but I lost much of the little endurance I had built. These are my favorite races in no particular order.

10. The Mammoth-I have run this race twice which is a rarity because I like to do different races. This was also my first trail race.22538943_719551654916633_5436678689366950007_o.jpg22712615_723111544560644_6197470883484751293_o.jpg

9. Waco Striders Cross Country Trail Race-This race was one of the most painful races I have run. Once again this was a rare race I have done twice. The below graph says it all.20170318_135848

8. Piney Woods Ultra-I did the 10K last year and will do the 25K this year as a training race. This is a surprising tough course that slowly breaks down runners.UE.Piney.WoodsLogo

7. Natural Bridge Caverns Trail Race-The only race that starts a 1/4 mile underground. It is not an overly tough race and the atmosphere was awesome.NBC 5K.jpgStill uphill.jpg

6. Down N Dirty Trail Race-This is also a Waco Striders race. This gave me a second chance at a course that kicked my butt. I still was not ready for the final climb.27787967_10155071770440894_3307425675672448535_o.jpg

5. Run4Bibles-A race that is just five minutes from home. I also did their night race and the course is challenging. I love running this course and run it often.20180303_14083029025895_1645132918903707_3517117571591569408_o

4. Knob Hills Trail Race-This was a long 10K. It was actually 7.3 miles and I did not even get lost. The fun part was all of the crazy little hills.download.png

3. Wild Canyon Ultra-One the most scenic and difficult races I have run. It is located at Caprock Canyon SP and if the canyons do not get you the weather will.images.jpg

2. Mount Magazine Trail Run-My first true mountain race. The race course lead runners to the highest point in Arkansas. Plus two three mile climbs.20180512_092220.jpg

1. DanMan- This was my first half marathon. The course was not very technical but being a first made it a favorite. The after party was easily the best of all races.f42541f2-a723-4c44-9384-dd0df5d7648c20180412_224512DSC00779.JPG

These are my 10 favorite trail races. Most of these races were first or something different from usual races.

 

Return to Cleburne State Park

I have finally returned to Cleburne SP.  I enjoyed my first visit in which I hiked with my son. We hiked all around the waterfall.  It was flowing pretty good the day we went.  I had plans to go back several times after some heavy rains to see the waterfall at full power.  I never made it back at those times. I went back this time and we are in a moderate drought. The waterfall was dried up but the hiking was still good. I wanted to see some other parts of the park.  The parts of Cedar Lake I saw were very clear. I was surprised of how clear the water was in the lake.  The other parts of the part had a west Texas desert feel. There were cacti and shrubs. The ground was white shale dry ground.  There was some good elevation changes and an overlook that was at ground level.  I still have one more part of the park I have not hiked yet.20180611_153549.jpg20180611_155008.jpg20180611_155543.jpg20180611_161102.jpg20180611_161821.jpg20180611_172413.jpg

It was a good hike on a hot and dry day.  I do want to get back to the park during a time when the waterfall is at full blast.

Wild Canyon Ultra 10K/Hike?

I am trying to decide if this goes down as a trail run or speed hike. On trail runs, I usually get pre and post run pictures. On hikes, I get pictures all during the hike. This was a registered race but I got no pre or post race pictures and took twenty plus pictures on the second half of the course. The views were so amazing and it was an out and back course so I had a chance to get pictures without missing more scenery. It is a win win for me however I see it because I had another chance to be in the great outdoors.

The race was held at Caprock Canyon State Park. It is one of my favorites. The last time I was here, the skies were clear and the temperature was rising. Just the opposite this time. The temperatures were falling and the rain and storms were on there way. The race started in the fog was that way my entire run. The course held up well while I was running. There were some muddy spots but not too bad. The course started at a high point in the park and we ran down into a valley than back up to a high point and that was the halfway point. I knew it was going to be a rough and muddy uphill finish. I was not worried about my time. I was racing the rain. I saw lightning the the thunder rumbled. I knew the rain was close behind. I finished in a decent time for the course 1:19:42. My first top half finish in a 10K. 20180421_084344.jpg20180421_084349.jpg20180421_091122.jpg20180421_091417.jpg20180421_0913241.jpg20180421_084738.jpg

The rain held off until I finished. It starting pouring down rain three minutes after I was done. West Texas storms are crazy. The rain drops are bigger, the lightning is brighter and the thunder is louder. Did I forget the hail is faster. I am glad I did the 10K instead of the 25K. I would have been miserable running in that down pour with hail. Plus cloud to ground lightning bolts are nice to see from a distance inside but not close by and outside.

This will go down as hike 27 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series due to the picture taking during the run/hike.

 

Copper Breaks State Park

Copper Breaks State Park is located in Quanah, TX which is about four hours north west of Dallas. This park was mind blowing. It is not as grand as Palo Duro or Caprock Canyon State Parks but they all three have similar features. The red rock with white stripes and the steep sheer cliffs is something that they all have as geological features. But Copper Breaks has some quirky looking features the other two do not have in them. The Permian Sea Tide Ripples were a nice surprise and the ripples in some of the elevation change areas were also a different aspect of the park. I am a fan of the natural balancing rocks and the park had many to see. The park trails also overlook Lake Copper Breaks and the Pease River. I only hiked the two most challenging trails but I ended up hiking double the mileage it showed on the map. I did not get off trail and never felt lost but my get lost factor is always high. This park also has part of the official Texas Longhorn herd and is an International Dark Sky Park. I am planning on making a trip out here for an overnight visit or a stargazing tour. The day I was here it was overcast and I saw no longhorns. DSC00810.JPG20180420_173918.jpgDSC00815.JPGDSC00827.JPGDSC00830.JPGDSC00845.JPGDSC00872.JPGDSC00862.JPG

I hope these pictures can depict how incredible this park looks. I look at the pictures I take and they still do not relay the imagery I see in person. This was hike 26 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I am at the halfway point in the challenge and what a great hike to get to this point.

Next blog is a hike but also a trail run. It might also be a trail run that turned into a speed hike. I might just call it a trail runhike with tons of pictures. Whatever it was it was very fun.

Lockhart State Park

In the land of BBQ there is a state park. I knew very little about this park and the park seemed to be a park for golf. I do not golf. It also supposedly has some good fishing spots. I do not fish but want to learn and start fishing. I do hike and this park has some surprisingly nice hiking trails. I even had a tough time on Rattlesnake Run trail to finish off my hike of the park. Lockhart State Park is located in Lockhart, TX which is about thirty minutes south of Austin. I decided to do a combination of seven trails because none of them are particularly long. I luckily brought enough water due to the heat. The temperature rose very quick in the middle of the day. Another good thing was that the trails were shaded for the most part. I enjoyed my time at this park. I stayed longer than I thought was going to stay so I had to pass up on another park I was going to try to visit. This was a trend of that weekend. I was continually hiking longer in one place and missing out on the next place. This was also the weekend of getting lost and I did get lost at Lockhart State Park and ended up on the golf course. I was pleasantly surprised to find two waterfalls in the park and one was flowing to the point where the crossing point was flooded. DSC00666.JPGDSC00658.JPG DSC00653.JPGDSC00651.JPG20180330_144610.jpg20180330_151304.jpg

This was hike 23 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series and one of the biggest surprises of these hikes. I found many things on this hike that I did not expect. The trails had good elevation change. There are some CCC buildings and waterfalls. It was a good hiking experience.

Next up is a park I have been trying to get to in over a year.

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.