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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We woke up early to beat the heat and got out to the park at 8am. Met up with Greg and started at the Lower Falls and hiked the Homestead Trail. I forgot the camera, so no pics. Even with some decent rain lately, the water was very low. Sam was a wild man and had to wear his doggy shoes to start the trail so he didn’t rip his paws up, which he did anyway.
After walking over the mostly dry falls, we went to the beginning of the Homestead Trail (2.8 miles). The trail was pretty flat and wound through the woods until the last half mile or so where we slightly gained elevation and twice came out next to civilization (a Texas Parks and Wildlife building and an office park). CV and Biff both did well, but we forgot their water bowl so Court had to use her hands for CV to drink.
We saw only a couple of spiny black caterpillars and a small rabbit on this short trip. I’m sure the dogs kept most other wildlife away. We got back to the falls and let the dogs cools off in the water for a bit before heading back to the car. Would like to come back and spend longer and do a couple of other trails at some point.