December 1, 2013
Hike: Turkey Creek Trail, Austin, TX
Weather: mild, overcast, low 70s
Hikers: Ian, Court, Biff, CV
Length: about 2.5 miles
The trail was very wet and muddy and very heavily traveled today. Turkey Creek Trail is located in Emma Long Metropolitan Park, off City Park Road. It is extremely dog friendly and most people had their dogs off leash. The water was still flowing very well from the previous month’s rains and we crossed the creek multiple times, to CV’s chagrin. There is no real explanation as to why CV hates water so much, but I don’t think I’ve seen another dog match his disdain. We eventually had to turn back before we could finish the loop because CV was so miserable. He doesn’t mind the trail, but crossing the water is where he draws the line. I even had to carry him across one of the crossings.
I also forgot to turn the trail app on until about halfway through, so we only got a partial record of the trail. The hike was very pretty even though the trees were missing a lot of their summer foliage. We gained quite a bit of elevation at one point, going up the cliff away from the creek, but decided to turn back down to keep CV from having to climb too much.
Biff loved the water and got in deeper than he has in a long time. I think we crossed the creek at least 7 or 8 times total. We plan to come back in a couple of weeks without CV (I don’t think he would complain about staying home) to finish the trail properly. We will probably get to the trail head a little earlier too and beat some of the crowds.
October 20th, 2013
Hike: Elm Fork Trail, near Denton, TX
Weather: clear, 60’s, sunny
Hikers: Ian, Court, Biff
Length: 6.14 miles
It was a bit chilly this morning. Fall has officially hit Texas. We hit the trail a little after 9:30am. This was Biff’s first hike with his new backpack and he did really well. The trail head is at the Old Alton Bridge, which is an iron bridge built in 1884. It was decommissioned in 2001, but is still open to foot and horse traffic.
The full trail is about 12 miles out and back, but we only hiked about half of it today. The first mile was pretty flat and bordered a horse pasture before turning towards Lake Lewisville and getting deeper into the woods.
The morning was cool and damp, as it had rained for most of the week before. A bit muddy, but the trail was in good shape. There were two water crossings, but both were shallow.
As we got further along, we started to gain more elevation and the trail got a little more wild. We crossed under a highway and then bordered the lake for the rest of the trail until we turned around at the 3 mile mark and another bridge.
Biff was off leash for the first half, but on the way back we spotted a coyote just 20 yards off the trail and Biff was on leash for the rest of the journey. Court picked up a coyote stick to protect us, despite my laughing. Shortly after, we noticed quite a few animal remains that must have been the coyote’s leftovers. We labeled this section the Trail of Death. There was a crow skull, a pile of bird feathers, parts of an armadillo, and a fresh possum carcass. The coyote must have been eating well.
The rest of the trail was uneventful, but very pretty, winding through the forest and staying in the shade. The round trip took a little over 2.5 hours. We ran into a few other hikers with dogs and also two horseback riders. We are planning on coming back to do the full 12 mile trail plus the Pilot Knoll Trail, which runs south from the trail head for another 14 mile out and back.
September 22nd, 2013
Hike: Knob Hill Trail, Flower Mound (DFW), TX
Weather: cool, upper-mid 70s, sunny
Hikers: Court, Ian
Length: about 10 miles
This was our longest hike to date. We started out around 9:30am on a beautiful, cool morning. It had rained for two days prior, so the trail was slightly muddy, but the temperature was great, especially compared to our last hike on this trail in July.
When we arrived the parking lot was pretty full, but we only saw a few bikers and one trail running couple. Also one father/son hiking combo. We got all the way to the other trail head and actually overshot it a bit. Near the turnaround we came across a group of horseback riders. Probably 7-9 total. Court thought it was funny that the smallest rider had the largest horse. Again, we forgot the camera, so my cracked iPhone had to suffice. I’m going to just keep my camera in the backpack at all times from now on.
There wasn’t much wildlife today. Just one squirrel that scurried across the path as we approached. Also several turtles in the creek below the trail, near the beginning. Glad we got to do this trail completely and our feet held out well. I like this trail, as it has a lot of different environments. It starts under the shade of the forest, then becomes a bit sandy, then gains elevation up to Knob Hill and has more rocks and cacti, before delving back into forest and a shallow river bottom with tall, woody plants outlining the trail.
Overall, a nice 10 mile out and back that isn’t too challenging, but is nice to get out of the city and experience nature around Dallas.
September 15th, 2013
Hike: Inga’s Trail (Bull Creek South), Austin, TX
Weather: cool, mid-high 70s, overcast, a bit wet
Hikers: Court, Ian, Doc, CV, Biff, Cray, Indy
Length: just over 4 miles
It rained the night before which made this hike quite pleasant. We set out on the trail around 8am. Doc’s dogs (Cray and Indy) did very well on leash. Biff was off leash and CV, just a week shy of his 18th birthday, did very well despite getting a little tired on the first leg.
The trail more or less followed Bull Creek along Highway 360, which it crossed twice. The creek was pretty dry, but did have a couple of good swimming holes for the dogs. (Please excuse the crappy iPhone photos)
We started on the south end at Lakewood Drive and hiked 2 miles north to the other end at Spicewood Springs. We saw a couple of cotton tails, but not much else. There were quite a few other hikers and bikers enjoying the cool weather as well. Ian tried out his new trail app about halfway into the hike and it turned out great (see below). All in all, a nice morning hike in Austin.
August 18th, 2013
Hike: Richards Loop, Sam Houston National Forest near Richards, TX
Weather: Sunny, warm, upper 80s
Hikers: Ian, Court
Left Navasota early Sunday morning and drove through several small east Texas towns (Anderson, Richards) to reach the trail head. Court forgot the daypack so we were stuck with my Dell computer backpack, but we made do.
The trail was mostly flat, only dipping a couple of times to cross the dry creek bed. Some parts were fairly overgrown, to Court’s chagrin. I told her to watch for snakes, which didn’t help matters. We saw 2 or 3 other hikers, but pretty much had the forest to ourselves. There wasn’t much wildlife, though we did hear some woodpeckers (endangered Red-Cockaded) hammering away at the Loblolly Pines as the sun came up early in the hike.
Despite the dry creek, we did pass a couple of ponds along the way. It was a pretty cool feeling being completely surrounded by dense forest and listening to the silence. All in all, a nice easy hike around 6.5 miles total. Hopefully we remember the backpack next time.
July 20th, 2013
Weather: Sunny, hot, low 90s
Hikers: Ian, Court, Biff, CV
We got to the trail head around 8am, but there was a sign saying the trail was closed. We had already driven all the way there and the trail looked ok, so we continued on anyway. This trail was an interesting mix of terrain, alternating between open, hilly fields and shaded woods.
In the first quarter mile in the woods we saw our first wildlife (not including the thousands of grasshoppers that scattered to the sides every step we took): a small cottontail rabbit. I tried to get a quick photo, but Biff scared him off. A little further in we crossed a wide gravel road and the trail was cut off by a low fence (the kind found in construction zones). It seemed like we had found why the trail was closed. We could have easily stepped over the fence and continued, but we were unfamiliar with what lay ahead and we also knew that there was another trail head at the other end. We turned around and headed back to the car. On the way we encountered another couple heading in and told them about the fence, but they pressed on. When we got back to the parking lot there was a group of bikers getting ready to head down the trail also. Apparently “closed” is just a suggestion at this trail. But we decided to continue to the other trail head and got in the car.
The other trail head was just a couple of miles away and a little more secluded. The beginning meandered through some tall brush on both sides of us. It felt a bit swampy almost. The trail then wound through the woods and emerged into some open hills covered in grass. Just out of the woods we saw another rabbit and I got a decent picture this time, but he was well camouflaged.
We walked about two miles in, but the sun was beating down pretty hard and the dogs were getting tired so we decided to turn back. This was and out-and-back trail, not a loop, so the farther we went in, the farther we had to come back. We stopped several times on the way back in the shade to give the dogs water and I had to dodge a huge spider in the middle of the path at one point. Court claims it was just a banana spider, but I say it was going to kill us all. Biff decided he was going to lie down for a rest, but we got him to continue and we got back to the car ok. Overall, we hiked a little over 4 miles, so it was a bit shorter than we had anticipated. We are going to try and go back this fall and do the whole thing, roughly 10 miles.