Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge Part 2

This place is amazing. These two trails were very different than the first two trails. The first two trails had a bunch of water features and a summit. These two were destination hikes and out and backs. The only water were in small creeks and there was not a summit to be had. The only elevation changes were up long shallow hills and some quick steep inclines. I did not see any more bison but I did see a large copperhead. Once again finding trailheads and staying on the trail was challenging. I actually started hiking the wrong trail and was informed by a local that I was on the wrong trail. I was also informed that hiking poles are useless when going through the boulder field. Another  great bit of information was not to try the boulder field alone. The trek is not extremely treacherous but just challenging enough that most should not be alone. I soon found out that all the advice was spot on.

The first trail on this day was Charons Garden Trail but in hindsight I should have done Elk Mountain. This trail had some nice views of rock formations and my end was at the beginning of the boulder field. 20171001_110644.jpg20171001_113808.jpg20171001_111717.jpg20171001_120312.jpg20171001_120358.jpg20171001_114728.jpg

The second trail of the day was Crab Eyes Trail. I was tired by the time I started this hike. My legs felt like jello from the run earlier in the morning. I was still recovering from from the 10K and hikes yesterday also. I was determined to see the crab eyes though. I did a speed hike just to get close and then I knew I had to get back before my legs gave out. 20171001_123834.jpg20171001_123059.jpg20171001_124107.jpg20171001_124103.jpg20171001_124821.jpg20171001_124943.jpg

I got this close to the crab eyes. I actually timed my turn around perfect. My legs cramped up as soon as I got back to the car. It put me in a dilemma because I could not sit down without my leg cramping. I had the help of muscle cream and stretching to get me on my way. I will definitely be coming back. I have several places I want to hike. I might just need to take a week here just to get most of the trails hiked.

I am now caught up on all my hikes this year. I have one more trip planned. I will be going back to Arkansas to hopefully get two summit hikes and a few waterfalls also. I do have some trail running pics and stories I will use as fillers until I get back from Arkansas. I also will not be blogging as frequently. I also might throw in some lists because everybody likes a list.

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

I heard about this place on a random search for a place to run a trail race. I did not find a trail race but did find a quarter marathon race. I signed up for the race and did some research on the area around Lawton, OK. I found that the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was minutes away and has some great hiking. I did not realize is that I was doing a 10K trail race the day before the quarter marathon race. My schedule was to wake up early Saturday and run a 10K trail race then drive three and half hours to Lawton, OK and hike in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. On Sunday, wake up early again and run a quarter marathon and then hike the Wichita Wildlife Refuge again and then make the return drive back home. I packed in a bunch of miles in one weekend. A total of 13 miles running and eight miles of hiking.

I love this place. I got to see bison and longhorns. Bison are the biggest animals I have ever seen. The mountains are beautiful and there are so many places to see and trails to hike. I had seven trails I wanted to hike. I settled on completing two and partial hiking two others. I got to summit a small mountain and walk across a dam. I did some bouldering and saw many small and large waterfalls. I hiked on grasslands and forest like areas. I met many friendly people and a copperhead snake.

On Saturday, I hiked the Kite Trail and Little Baldy Mountain. I saw the bison on this day on the way between the trails. Kite Trail ran along Lost Lake and large creek. I did most of my bouldering and waterfall watching on this trail.20170930_163839.jpg20170930_164242.jpg20170930_165904.jpg20170930_164500.jpg20170930_170451.jpg20170930_170058.jpg20170930_170617.jpg20170930_180254.jpg

There were so many more pictures but these were the ones I chose. The next hike was the summit of Little Baldy Mountain and a walk across a dam. This was the shortest of the four hikes but had the most elevation change. I also got lost several times on this hike and the previous hike. The trails were not marked at all as I found out. I had to talk to many people just to get to and stay on the correct trail.20170930_181958.jpg20170930_181900.jpg20170930_182743.jpg20170930_182311.jpg20170930_183749.jpg20170930_183746.jpg20170930_185522.jpg20170930_185648.jpg

I saw some cool balancing rock formations on both of these hikes. I wanted to get another hike in that day but I ran out of sunlight.

I will continue my Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge blog next with the second day of running and more hiking.

Lost Maples SNA Part 2

This visit to Lost Maples SNA was not planned. I had the whole family with me and we were going to spend the day at Garner SP but when we got there it was full and would not reopen till later in the day. I had big plans for Garner SP that day but the derailment did not discourage me so we went to Lost Maples SNA. This time I drove on scenic highway 377. The speed limit is 15 miles per hour for a reason. The road has a real Colorado Rocky Mountain feel to it but with guard rails. Steep cliffs are on both sides of the road and the inclines and declines freak me out. I usual have my wife behind the wheel for drives like this but this was an unpleasant surprise for me. Now if you like some of the most special views of the Texas hill country this is the road for you. The views were amazing when I dared to take my eyes off the road. It was a truly incredible drive but I just rather have two feet on the ground.

The good and bad of having the entire family is that we hike at a much slower pace but with the slower pace I can take in what I possibly missed the first time. This was a shorter hike on the East-West Trail and it was flat trail hiking only. I did get to get a better view of the second set of twin waterfalls. 20170712_151218.jpg20170712_151652.jpg20170712_154619.jpg20170712_155505.jpg20170712_160924.jpg20170712_160931.jpg

I also like some of the signs in the state parks in which I find humorous. Some are suppose to funny like the bigfoot crossing sign in Dinosaur Valley SP. Some are informative like the alligator signs in Huntsville SP. The ones I like the most are the obvious ones like getting to close to the edge is dangerous and there is a cliff behind the sign or this where the trail ends sign and there is nothing behind the sign.20170712_160202.jpg20170712_145257.jpg

I was thankful for the warnings but got a laugh out of both the signs. I did do the steep and rugged mile and a half hike the first time. The sign is very accurate and it was a tough hike and then some.

The next blog will about a park back up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area sort of.

Lost Maples State Natural Area

Let me start out by saying wow. Of the three state parks in the area around Utopia, TX, this was the park I had the least interest. Lost Maples State Natural Area is ten minutes north of Utopia in Vanderpool, TX. The park is about an hour and ten minutes west of San Antonio. I took the short drive up Ranch Rd 187 to find the most beautiful park in the state of Texas. It is just my opinion but this place is awesome. I mentioned the road I took because the next time I went back I took the scenic highway. I will get into my fears of scenic highways next time I blog about Lost Maples SNA. Since this was not the main park attraction in the area I did not fully do my research. If I did I would have been at this park the entire vacation. The park has everything a hiker could enjoy. If you like waterfalls. It has them. What about steep climbs with majestic views? This is the place. Also do not miss out on the ponds, rivers and crazy rock formations. Did I mention the trail along the 2200 foot cliff? It is there. The park is a 3 on the Bortle dark sky scale. The scale number and scale is all good but it means you can see the Milky Way on a clear night. Unfortunately, I found this out way too late and when the vacation was over there was a post of the Milky Way from the park the day after I hiked the park. The trees at the park are amazing and the park has a foliage report showing the leaves changing color. Words cannot describe all I saw and want to see more of. The park only has ten miles of trail but it packs a ton of features in those trails.

I did the East-West Trail to the East Trail to the two overlooks and backtracked the East Trail. My plan was also to go to the West Trail but I got Mike Tyson’d. I had a plan until the hike punched me in the mouth in the form of time. I thought I was just going to speed hike most of the trail but there was to many picture moments to pass up.20170711_171927.jpg20170711_170524.jpg20170711_172655.jpg20170711_172418.jpg20170711_174121.jpg20170711_182554.jpg20170711_182026.jpg20170711_184637.jpg20170711_184347.jpg20170711_185123.jpg20170711_185240.jpg20170711_190837.jpg20170711_191308.jpg

I did not realize how many selfies I took on this first trip. I do not take many selfies because the places are more attractive than my mean mug on camera. The park trail map has six points of interest and I only made it to two. The trail map does not have the two sets of two waterfalls as points of interest. It also does not have the pond with crystal clear water as a point of interest. Also met some people on the trail that said the West Trail has at least two more points of interest that are not mentioned on the trail map. I will definitely be back here several more times.

The next blog is about another park I have never heard of but also was surprisingly great.

Marion Sansom Park

I was on a hunt for waterfalls in my local area and I heard about Marion Sansom Park and the waterfall that is in the park. The park is on the northwest side of Fort Worth overlooking Lake Worth. I tried to go on a day after some rain but in Texas you never know what the weather is going to be at any given moment. The rain never arrived but I did get lucky with some cool temperatures in the morning. The park also has miles of nice trails but none are marked. At least I did not find any marked trails. I basically had to remember how I got to the waterfalls and back to the trailhead. I was lucky to have Dade with me this morning. I thought there would be one waterfall but there were two waterfalls and both were flowing pretty good that day.

The first waterfall we went to was the smaller of two waterfalls but still nice. The trails were well groomed until we got close to the falls. The trails had a bunch of trash around and they got harder to follow. The park itself seemed clean but some people just do not respect the nature area and trash it because they are too lazy to do the right thing. It just makes me mad to see stuff like that. The waterfall area was cleaner than the trail but still frustratingly trashy. 20170314_103435.jpg20170314_103924.jpg20170314_103451.jpg20170314_103513.jpg20170314_104054.jpg

The second waterfall was the bigger of the two waterfalls and it was flowing pretty good. We got a chance to get on top of the waterfall which I like to do and we also got some good angles of the falls. 20170314_105017.jpg20170314_105223.jpg20170314_102155.jpg20170314_102147.jpg20170314_102751.jpg

The park did offer other sites besides the waterfalls and the hike was crazy steep on the way to the trailhead.  It had a nice overlook over Lake Worth and the dam. We also got to hear the jets from the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base. 20170314_100203.jpg20170314_110450.jpg20170314_100208.jpg

Bonus picture of the food we got on the way home at a great hole in the wall Mexican food place.20170314_113347.jpg

I do believe I will be back in Dallas for the next blog then back on the road again.

Cedar Ridge Preserve

Cedar Ridge Preserve is located about twenty minutes southwest of Dallas. The preserve is also the highest point in Dallas County. The location from my home makes it a convenient hiking location for me. I have been hiking here on and off for about eight years and the last two years I have been trail running on the trails. Hiking the perimeter of the preserve will get you over six miles of good hiking. The views are great and the trails range from difficult to easy. There are six distinct overlooks at the preserve and they have great vantage points of the surrounding area. The overlooks on Cattail Pond and Bluebonnet Trails are large wooden stair structures. They help when looking over the trees. The overlooks on Red Oak and Fossil Valley Trails are my favorite. The area they overlook includes Joe Pool Lake and the Dam, Cedar Hill State Park, Cedar Mountain and the Dogwood Canyon Audubon. The preserve is ever changing and depending on the time and season, the scenery can be drastically different. The preserve includes a pond, a small waterfall, several bridge crossings and numerous creeks and streams. 20151126_09164720151215_14481820160218_16302720160218_16470420160218_17061620160917_19064320160917_18461720161124_090542

This is my favorite place to hike and the place I have hiked the most. It is also my favorite place to trail run. The elevation changes are great and I can mix in steep inclines with long inclines that are not as steep. It is like having the Texas Hill Country in my backyard. It say this is the best hiking area in the DFW metroplex.

Next blog is back in Fort Worth. This was a wild and unexpectedly difficult hike and as usual I get lost for awhile and find a steep incline to the end.

Airfield Falls Conservatory Trail

I do not usually do hikes on trails that are not in parks or wilderness areas. I heard about this trail from a friend and had to go see the only nature made waterfall in the city of Fort Worth. As of now there are two trailheads that lead to the waterfall but the two times I went there was only one. The newly remodeled trailhead is at the entrance of the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base. The trailhead is about a quarter mile from the waterfall. The trailhead I use is in the parking lot of the Westworth Village City Hall. The trailhead is about a mile from the waterfall. The hike is a nice hike along the Trinity River. The hike is flat, very flat and peaceful. It was so peaceful on my first trip I passed the trailhead on the way back and ended up hiking over five miles. The jets were always  flying above on both trips. My first hike I was alone but the second time Alexandria was with me. The second hike was done after we had some rain in the area so the waterfall was flowing more than the first trip.

My first adventure to the Airfield Conservatory Waterfall was a morning hike with a learning curve. 20170317_104827.jpg20170317_103241.jpg20170317_110138.jpg20170317_105430.jpg20170317_105348.jpg

On the way out I passed my landmark because everything along the Trinity River looked the same.20170317_112445.jpg

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My second hike was a good time. My goofy daughter accompanied me on the hike. I made her hike but she ended up having fun. She liked that it was flat getting to the waterfall but once at the waterfall she was climbing up and down the wall.20170607_095825.jpg20170607_100113.jpg20170607_100153.jpgAllie Rainbow.jpg20170607_101402.jpg

The is a great hike to a hidden gem in the city of Fort Worth. I think after some heavy rainy days this waterfall would be even better.

Next blog I am heading back to Dallas to my favorite and most place.