Turkey Creek Trail 12/1/13

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.

Trail Head
Trail Head
Heading down the trail
Heading down the trail
waterfall
waterfall
One of several water crossings.  Most were deeper than this.
One of several water crossings. Most were deeper than this.

SAM_1318 SAM_1319

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.

Berries along the trail
Winter berries along the trail

SAM_1322

Home stretch
Home stretch

map elevation profile

Barton Creek Upper 11/09/13

November 9th, 2013

Hike: Barton Creek Upper, Austin, TX

Weather: Cool, cloudy, drizzly, low 60s

Hikers: Ian, Court, Ike, MB, Biff

Length: 5.09 miles

Isaac and Mary Beth joined us on this hike, along with Biff.  The trail head was near Westlake and the hike took us south towards our regular Green Belt starting spot.  It has rained a lot in Austin in the past few weeks so the water is way up.  I haven’t seen the water this high or flowing this fast in years.  There were actual falls and rapids in the creek.  You’ll have to excuse the amount of water pictures, but I wanted to have a record of the water actually being this high.

Court, Ike, MB, and Biff
Court, Ike, MB, and Biff

The trail descended steeply at the beginning, heading down to the creek.  It was pretty muddy due to the recent rains and it was a bit drizzly at the beginning.  Great hiking weather.  There were quite a few other people hiking today and a lot of dogs too, but Biff behaved very well.  His backpack has been chafing him a bit, so we’ll need to augment it somehow.  The trail basically followed the creek the whole way.  There were several trails at differing elevations and we moved among them as we went.  There was even water streaming down a cliff face onto the trail at one point.  The water combined with some autumn foliage made for some great photos and a great hike.

SAM_1277

rapids
rapids

SAM_1280 SAM_1282

After the initial descent, the trail was pretty flat.  We had to duck under a fallen tree across the trail about halfway through.  We also saw three guys who decided to take advantage of the rarely full creek and go for a swim, despite the chilly temperature.  I did not envy them, but to each their own.

SAM_1285

Fall foliage
Fall foliage

SAM_1290

Ike and Court; fallen tree in the background
Ike and Court; fallen tree in the background

SAM_1295

Crazy swimmers
Crazy swimmers
More rapids
More rapids
Full creek
Full creek
Big oak
Big oak

There was a large cave carved out of a rock overhang that Isaac dubbed the Hobo Cave.  He then went into the intricacies of the Hobo Code and all that entails.  The full trail is actually almost 7 miles long, but we had to turn back a little early due to time constraints.  The ascent back to the trail head was pretty tough, but a nice challenge to end the hike.  I’m sure we’ll repeat this hike in the future.

SAM_1300 SAM_1301

Hobo Cave
Hobo Cave
Still more rapids
Still more rapids
Ascent back to the trail head
Ascent back to the trail head
Finished.  Court looking...attractive?
Finished. Court looking…attractive?

map

elevation profile

Test Edit for YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3KrWy_2jqs&feature=youtu.be

Elm Fork Trail 10/20/13

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.

Old Alton Bridge
Old Alton Bridge

SAM_1269

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.

Court and Biff on trail
Court and Biff on trail
Biff's new backpack
Biff’s new backpack

SAM_1245

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.

Water crossing 1
Water crossing 1
Water crossing 2
Water crossing 2

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.

SAM_1246 SAM_1249

Lake Lewisville tributary
Lake Lewisville tributary
Court on the bridge at the turnaround point
Court on the bridge at the turnaround point

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.

Court looking fierce with her coyote stick
Court looking fierce with her coyote stick
Coyote leftovers
Coyote leftovers
Trail sign
Trail sign

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.

Elm Fork route Elm Fork elevation profile

Knob Hill Trail 9/22/13

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.

Image
Court overlooking the creek. My thumb covering the lens.

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.

Knob Hill?
Knob Hill?

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.

Roughly 10 miles, out and back, starting at left
Roughly 10 miles, out and back, starting at left

Elevation Profile

Inga’s Trail 9/15/13

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)

Court and CV at the edge of one of the swimming holes
Court and CV at the edge of one of the swimming holes
Bull Creek Biff 9_15_13
Biff checking out the water

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.

Our route (out and back, starting on south end)
Our route (out and back, starting on south end)
Elevation Profile
Elevation Profile

 

Richards Loop 8/18/13

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.

Trail head
Trail head

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.

SAM_1218

Trail was a bit hard to find at times
Trail was a bit hard to find at times

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.

Surrounded by forest
Surrounded by forest
Burned out tree
Burned out tree

SAM_1228

Log across the dry creek bed
Log across the dry creek bed
Court lacks balance
Court lacks balance
One of the small ponds
One of the small ponds
Finished!
Finished!

Knob Hill Trail 7/20/13

July 20th, 2013

Hike: Knob Hill Trail, Flower Mound (DFW), TX

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.

Court and CV
Court and CV

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.

Rabbit
Rabbit

SAM_1207

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.

Ian and Biff
Ian and Biff
Biff exploring
Biff exploring

SAM_1210

Tired puppies
Tired puppies