Oak Point Nature Preserve

Oak Point Nature Preserve is located on the east side of the city of Plano, TX. The time I got there it was not crowded but quickly became crowded when I was leaving. It is a nice place to get a hike but not for picture taking. The trash was everywhere around the trail and in the Rowlett Creek. The trails are easily followed and there are an abundance of trails to hike. They are all easy I assume since I only hiked about three miles of trail. The trails I hiked were flat except for section by Go Ape Zip Line and Treetop Adventure. I guess that is the adventure park in the middle of the nature preserve. I looks like it would be fun if you liked doing that kind of stuff. My fear of heights prevents me from even thinking about zip lining. Ironically I have repelled down a building once when I was in college. This is your typical nature preserve except for the adventure park in the middle. There was no big wow factor or big hills and no over use switchbacks to lengthen the trail distance. It is a nice get away from the city and get to some place different park. I did find some interesting looking white trees. I do not know if this is good or not. I was awful as a botany student. DSC00176.JPGDSC00181.JPGDSC00185.JPGDSC00192.JPGDSC00196.JPGDSC00197.JPG

The trails are close enough that I will go again to do some trail running and get to some other parts of the preserve. This was hike 11 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next hike I go to the west side of Plano.

Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center

Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center is located in Denton, Tx and has some very nice trails. The trails are very well marked and clean. There was not much elevation change on the trails but they are a fun hiking experience. I have been to several city parks and nature preserves and about half have trash everywhere but this one was nice and clean.  I did misread one sign so I missed the Trinity River but hiking along the Clear Creek was appealing with good views. This is another park I never heard of but will be running a race here in a few weeks. I like to check out the course before I run it so I know what I am in for. This is going to be a fun run because the trails are nice and flat and just a good tranquil place to be. DSC00155.JPGDSC00156.JPGDSC00161.JPGDSC00163.JPGDSC00170.JPGDSC00173.JPG

This is hike 10 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. This series has put me at different places I had heard of but never been to parks. I have been to city parks and nature preserves but I am itching to get back to the state parks.

The next couple of hikes take me back to some city parks.

Race the Base 4M

The last trail race of the year was at Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Little Rock, Arkansas. The morning of the race was freezing, really. The temperature was thirty degrees. The race only had one distance option so I was hoping not to come in last. I think there were more road runners on the course than trail runners. The runners seemed more aggressive on the trail and tended not to move to the right when a faster runner was passing. Plus it was the middle of fall and leaves were all over the trail. Leaves on the trail do two things, first they are slick and secondly they hide roots and rocks. They made the race very difficult because the course had more roots and rocks than any other trail race I had run. With all that being said the race was enjoyable and extremely scenic. The mountain was a nice sight and the parks in Arkansas are always nice. My time of 53:45:06 was not too bad considering they threw in a super steep and long hill at the end. The course was odd in the way it was flat but with only steep inclines and declines. I came in the bottom half overall, gender and age group but was not last. IMG_0934.JPG20171111_082716.jpg20171111_082502.jpgIMG_0745.JPGIMG_0747.JPG

I did like the run but will not do it again next year. I did like the fact that I got to hike Pinnacle Mountain, Hot Springs NP and Lake Catherine SP. I also like the race shirt and finisher’s cup.

I will back to blogging about my hikes. I have done six hikes so far. I have the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I have a great problem because five of the six hikes were so amazing that I cannot believe that I can find better places to hike.

The Mammoth 10K

 

The Mammoth 5K was my first trail race last year. I had a great time camping and hiking  at Dinosaur Valley SP and running the race the next morning. I decided not to camp out this year and run the 10K. The course was tough. I knew from last year the course would be difficult but the 10K course was more than twice as hard. The course climbed the steep trail that leads to the summit of the park. I ran this trail at my last race here but that was part of a 5K and the rest of that race was downhill. This time after the hill the race was only a quarter the done. The course then went down and back up to the second highest point in the park. The course seemed longer than 10K but it had some very serene parts. The long scenic parts allowed me to get a steady pace for awhile. My time of 1:32:07 put me in the top half overall but only in the top two thirds of all males. IMG_21571.jpg22791979_723111514560647_1938614310425051603_o.jpgIMG_21591.jpg22712615_723111544560644_6197470883484751293_o.jpgIMG_21601.jpg

I will be doing the 15K next year. I really like being at this park for both hiking and running. This was also my last trail 10K this year. I have two more trail runs left this year.

My next next race is the final race of the Huaco Cuatro.

Rugged and Raw 10K

I was really excited about this 10K since is was just minutes from my home. I could sleep in just a bit and still get to the race on time. Plus I knew what I was in for because I ran these trails all the time. The temperature was cool but the humidity was high. I could not keep my glasses from fogging up. I had to run the last half without glasses. This was the first time I had run this far on these trails. The hills here are notoriously hard and it took a little more out of me than I thought it would do. The course had constant elevation change and some steep hills thrown in the middle. My time of 1:34:20 was disappointing but with the distance and the course difficulty it was not a bad time for me. The next day I ran a Quarter Marathon in a time of 1:14 so I expected more from myself. I had fun though and it was for a good cause.12031506_897374783679658_3519438867113999048_o.jpg20161124_083530.jpg

Not many pictures but as I have said before, I tend to take this place for granted.

My trail 10Ks continue at one of my favorites Texas State Parks. It is also one of the toughest 10Ks in North Texas.

Piney Woods Ultra 10K

My first official trail 10K. I have already completed three road 10Ks but trail running is a whole other monster. I was confident of being able to not only but also finish in a good time. I previously ran an “8K” in Waco that was actually a 9.5K so the distance will not be a surprise. I had also previously hiked in Tyler SP so I thought I knew the terrain. I must have missed the part that had a hill that was long but not to steep but long. Did I mention it was long? The course was a loop so I did not get a chance to run the hill as a decline. The course also had many other smaller hills but that one hill was a leg burner. I really liked the course though. It was very scenic and I just love those tall pine trees in east Texas. The drive in the morning was also very nice. Driving through east Texas is picturesque with all the ponds and farm land. My time of 1:24:26 was good but I thought I could have had a better time. I took 5th in my age group and was four minutes out of the top three. I do not expect to place in a 10K race anytime soon. I am trying to finish in the top half of all males first then go for placing in my age group.20170923_110400.jpg20170923_102103.jpg20170923_102115.jpg20170923_102358.jpg

It was a fun race and I talked to some runners with CHRC that I have seen at Cedar Ridge Preserve. It was a fun atmosphere. I also talked to the winner of the 25K, he was a nice guy.

The next trail race is once again at the Cedar Ridge Preserve and this is a bigger race than my first race at the preserve. This will be a more difficult 10K but at least I have ran these trail weekly.

#OptOutside 2017

Once again, I did an Opt Outside hike. Last year this was going to be my first hike of the 52 Hike Challenge but I decided to start the challenge with a New Year’s Day hike. This year the hike was the first hike after completing the 52 Hike Challenge which was both easier and harder than I thought. I was fine time was but finding places was the real challenge. Like most most challenges when they are completed, the reward is within. I loved seeing all the new places that I would not have been to if it was not for the challenge to get the 52 hikes done in a year. I give credit to Opt Outside for all the hikes in 2017 because I would not have found the 52 Hike CHallenge if it were not for Opt Outside. Black Friday was actually fall color Friday. I hiked my favorite place, Cedar Ridge Preserve. I got five very good and productive miles. 20171124_121000.jpg20171124_121955.jpg20171124_121348.jpg20171124_124730.jpg

I cannot wait to see where my hikes take me in the next year. Opt Outside is just not a one day decision it is a yearly lifestyle that I am trying to adopt for a lifetime.

The next blog is going back to trail running and then back to some crazy good hikes.