Best of 2018 Trails upon Trails

This year I hiked 50 new trails in 45 new places. I was doing the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series which is to hike 52 new places in 12 months. I did not get to 52 new trails but the 50 new trails were worth the travel. I found some local city parks and many state parks. I ventured into two other states besides Texas. I liked the hikes in Arkansas and Oklahoma and already have plans to return to both states. I also had some first in my trail running. I did my first 1/2 Marathon, 20K, 25K and 50K all on trails. 2018 was an awesome year to be outside.

20180522_175637.jpgAustin, TX

DSC01327.JPGTulsa, OK

20180606_190159.jpgDallas, TX

20180512_092220.jpgMount Magazine 20K

20181117_120020.jpgWild Hare 50K

20180511_191554.jpgMount Nebo, Arkansas

DSC00406.JPGChickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma

2018 was an incredible year and my plans for 2019 are even more adventurous.

 

 

Cleburne State Park and slight year in review

As time was running out on my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series, I got one more hike to get to 50. I did not get to 52 but this challenge had me in places I never thought I would go. I ventured to east and west Texas. I went to the Texas Panhandle and the hill country. I went to city parks, state parks and national lands in three states. I was injured for two months and it rained daily for a month and a half. I hiked up mountains and down into canyons. I saw waterfalls of all shapes and sizes. I hiked in temperatures in the 90s and in the teens. In the past two years of the 52 Hike Challenge, I have been to over 70 different parks. I have also decided to do it again this year. The last hike of year was definitely not the least.

I once again headed to Cleburne State Park to finish the trails in the park I have not been on yet. 8.3 miles later I have officially hiked the entire park. I have done this in about ten parks. I had a good group of guys to hike and run with on this hike. I really liked seeing the other parts of this park and they are nice but the highlight is always the three tier waterfall in the center of the park. FB_IMG_1545448944959.jpgFB_IMG_1545448835950.jpgFB_IMG_1545448828645.jpgFB_IMG_1545421265252.jpgFB_IMG_1545421245132.jpg

I hope all the readers of this blog have a great 2019. My challenge to all of you is to get out more and see the world.

Next up is new year shenanigans with my family.

Cooper Lake State Park

Cooper Lake State Park is located in Sulphur Springs, TX which is about an hour and fifteen minutes east of Dallas. I will do this blog as a trail run instead of a hike. The trail was set up to hold a trail run and it does every year. After hiking the trail, I got a message from a friend stating he runs a race there every year. I actually have already signed up to run the race. Back to the trail, it is a wide trail. Most hiking trails are single track trails, but this one was a wide trail like jeep trail. The trail was relatively flat and straight. It was a lollipop out and back. It was also very simple to navigate. The only bad thing is that it did not hold up well after the rain. It had not rained in a few days but it was still muddy most of the trail. There were some good views but nothing special and that is good when trail running. I am easily distracted and will stop and take pictures during a trail run. The best part of this hike was all of the wildlife. I saw over a dozen deer and they were even photogenic for once.20181218_113957.jpg20181218_115306.jpgDSC01464.JPGDSC01459.JPGDSC01466.JPG

This was hike 49 of the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. It was also supposed to be the last hike but I got one more in a fews days later. Completing the hike challenge was difficult due to injury and rain, lots of rain.

Next blog is the last hike then some fun lists blogs and an adventure of a different kind.

Lake Bob Sandlin State Park Part 2

My second day at Lake Bob Sandlin State Park consisted of a morning fog hike. It was another hike with no one around. The fog made the park really majestic. I liked the way the park and the fog merged to make the hike more enjoyable. I have had several hikes in the fog this year and they were all enjoyable. This was the most dense fog though and it took several hours till the sun burned off the fog. I could not get photos of the sunrise or the lake. I did get some wooded area photos of the hike.20181218_084614.jpgDSC01444.JPGDSC01440.JPGDSC01451.JPG

This was hike 48 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I am getting use to fog hikes this year.

I have one more hike in east Texas.

Lake Bob Sandlin State Park

Lake Bob Sandlin State Park was my home base for the east Texas trip. It is about two hours east of Dallas in Mount Pleasant, TX. This park had Christmas decorations at every turn and that made the easy hikes fun. The park had no difficult trails and I was there at an odd day and time so I had the park to myself. The hikes were very peaceful. The sunset was magnificent turning the sky blue and pink. I also got to hike around in the dark and see the Christmas displays lit up. This is what I expected all east Texas parks to look like but of course they all are different. The bonus was seeing dozens of deer and a mini waterfall.20181217_162914.jpg20181217_170118.jpgDSC01414.JPGDSC01431.JPGDSC01438.JPG20181217_203617.jpgDSC01411.JPG

This was hike 47 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I really enjoyed the peace and quiet and the Christmas decorations at this park.

Next day is the same park but different trails and a different point of view.

Dangerfield State Park

Dangerfield State Park is located in Dangerfield, TX which is about two and a half hours east of Dallas. I have been looking forward to this trip for three months. Of the three parks I am planning to visit while in east Texas this was the one I was most looking forward to hiking. My west Texas hiking trip much like this one was three parks in two days. My destination park in west Texas was not what I expected and the throw in park was spectacular. The moral of the story is that the Texas state parks are full of surprises and you never know what you will see until you get in the park. Since it is near Christmas time the park had Christmas decorations all around the park. They also had the name of the park all over the park. You will definitely know you are at this park. The elevation change was very nice. Mountain View Trail has three different paths to get to the top. I took two and passed on the third in which I went down. The path down was steep and long. Very technical and difficult due to the damp leaves covering the entire trail. The views while getting to the top were very nice. The highest point was 535 feet but the starting point was at slightly above sea level. The park does not advertise the small three tier waterfall in the middle of the park. The waterfall was a pleasant surprise. This was a great park to hike. I love seeing the loblolly trees and the other fauna that was labelled along the trail.  20181217_123213.jpg20181217_124616.jpg20181217_125255.jpg20181217_125858.jpg20181217_130720.jpg20181217_135245.jpgDSC01384.JPG

This was hike 46 in the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I think this will go down of one of my favorites. It was not particularly long but it all the CCC elements around the trail and I am a huge fan of waterfalls and hilltop views.

Next up the continuation of the east Texas trip.

Devil’s Den State Park Part 3

The last day at Devil’s Den SP was another frozen hike. The water in my water bottle actually froze on this short hike. The trail started right off the front of my cabin. I had passed it up the entire time I was here. I finally went on the trail and it lead to the waterfall over the dam. This is one of the park’s bigger attractions and I forgot all about it. It was easy to forget because of all of the other hikes grabbed my fascination. The buzzards were out on all hikes but especially this morning. The hike had a nice bridge which I always like and of course the waterfall. The trail was relatively flat with one big decline and incline at the beginning and the end. The temperature never got out of the 20s and that really affected my picture taking ability. I did get to see a beautiful sunrise. I did not get a picture though. The sun did make the crystal clear river water sparkle.20181126_103647.jpg20181126_150343.jpg20181126_150509.jpg20181127_072516.jpg20181127_074054.jpg20181127_074037.jpg

I had a great time here and already have plans to return to the region to visit the other close by state park. This was hike 45 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

I have seven more hikes to complete the 52 Hike Challenge. Stay tuned to see if I can do it.

Devil’s Den State Park Part 2

My next hike in Devil’s Den State Park was on the trail of the same name. This trail was shorter but had plenty of scenic spots and parts of the parks history. The rock formations were amazing and the bat caves although they were closed due to disease, were also a nice sight. There was a frozen waterfall and a natural cove to walk under. The trail did not provide an overlook of the park but it was up close to all of the natural features that the trail passed. 20181126_132105.jpg20181126_134222.jpg20181126_135307.jpg20181126_135536.jpg20181126_140202.jpg20181126_140907.jpg

This was hike 44 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I really enjoyed this semi frozen hike and learning about the history of the park.

The next blog is my final hike through this park. It was a nice trip and I want to return to this area of Arkansas again.

Bluff Creek Ranch

Bluff Creek Ranch is a private ranch located in Warda, TX which is about 45 minutes southeast of Austin. Even though the location would suggest the Texas hill country, the ranch had a real east Texas feel. There were not many hills but plenty of pine trees. The oil derrick would suggest a more north west Texas location but nope it is on the outskirts of the Texas hill country.  This is place where I became an ultra runner by completing my first 50K trail run. I did not expect this place to be this scenic. I wish I could have gotten a picture of the sunrise but I was too busing running. There are several ponds located throughout the ranch. There was not one big destination on the ranch but plenty of different things to see that caught my eye. The rolling hills and creeks mixed in with the pine trees and open fields made this a great hike.20181117_105055.jpg20181117_104021.jpg20181117_112933.jpg20181117_120020.jpg20181117_120927.jpg20181117_113113.jpg

It was a crazy day and I am glad I got to be able to hike a private ranch and also run a 50K. This is hike 42 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

I will get back on track the next blog with my continuing adventures in Arkansas.

Devil’s Den State Park Part 1

Devil’s Den State Park is located 30 minutes south of Fayetteville. AR. The park is located in the Ozark Mountains but right outside of the Ozark National Forest. I missed the leaves color change by two weeks and most of the leaves have already fallen off the trees. The area was still full of fall colors and leaves falling and branches too. The time of the trip coincided with a 30 degree average drop in temperature. The hike on the Yellow Rock Trail was in freezing temperatures. The temperature was about 29 degrees at the start and the temperature only rose about five degrees. The trails were marked great like all Arkansas SP trails. I took the three mile loop and turned it into a five mile lollipop.  The yellow rock overlook was amazing. The views were spectacular but I could not get great pictures. I was the only one on the trails at the time but the sun was affecting my camera. The fog was cool to see but also affects my pictures. The fog was mostly created by the difference in the air temperature and water temperature. This is also a CCC park and the hike to the lookout had a nice CCC pavilion at the top.  This trail also had some great rock formations lining the trail.20181126_091711.jpg20181126_091942.jpg20181126_095148.jpg20181126_102459.jpgDSC01353.JPG20181126_102916.jpg

This was hike 43 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. It was the typical beautiful Arkansas hike that are nothing typical anywhere else.

I realized after writing this I missed hike 42 at Bluff Creek Ranch so I will go in reverse next blog.