TPWD

#hike18 - Colorado Bend State Park

"A must see for Texas State Parks - I will return!"

Date: May 19, 2018

Location: Colorado Bend State Park - Bend, TX

Distance: 6.6

Trails: Tie Slide, Gorman Falls, Spicewood Springs (partial)

I had plans to go to Tyler State Park early Saturday morning, but my friend reached out and said her and her family were going to Colorado Bend State Park and that was more appealing because I had always wanted to go there!  So, I got up and got ready for a 3am departure, leaving at 3:30 because it's me, and arrived to the park just as the sun was coming up.  The parking lot was mostly empty, and the trail was ours.  We started our hike as the sun was peeking over the ridge and it made for an excellent introduction to Colorado Bend.

We took the Tie Slide trail to the Colorado River overlook and the views did not disappoint.  The trail was rocky but the views of the river make up for any hardships encountered by the group.

From there we made plans to head to Gorman Falls, the legendary falls within the park as springs cascade down a rock wall into the Colorado.  The hike was pretty mild until the falls and then it's a steep descent down the rocks (with some handrails to help) to the falls viewing area.

Going down these rocks was a bit slick, from daily use, but the ropes were sturdy and offered a solid point of contact.  I found the climb back to the trail much easier than going down, but I always prefer uphill vs. downhill hiking because I feel more accomplished at the top.  Anyway, it was a fun little stretch to get to the magical and lush Gorman Falls.

The falls start at the top from a spring and trickle down a rock face that is constantly changing shape.  The rock face is covered in moss, ferns and other vegetation.  The view of the waterfall can be somewhat obstructed by the trees growing, so the photos don't do this place any justice.  If you have the means and ability, visit in person and you will not be disappointed.  It's a real treat.

There is a main viewing deck and you can get a glimpse of the falls from the trail on the way down and that's where I chose to take photos.  There are signs saying it's a sensitive ecosystem, designed to keep people out of the water and from disturbing the falls.  I don't care enough about pictures, as it is burned in my memory, so I respected the signs and you should too by staying in designated areas.

From the falls, back to the parking lot, we were surrounded by meadows of wildflowers at every turn.  The cactus flowers were blooming and the bees were buzzing everywhere - busy at work!  What a great day to be alive in Colorado Bend State Park.

I have plans to return, either early in the morning again or this fall/winter season.  I want to hike every trail here, as they all looked like they offered great views and fun challenges.

As always, happy trails and enjoy a few more photos - wildflowers and part of our hiking group.

Me, my friend Amanda, and her niece's friend.

#hike2 - Tyler State Park

I'm experimenting with a post-hike video to kind of summarize the experience. We'll see how this evolves. Enjoy the first installment.

Date: January 13, 2018

Location: Tyler State Park - Tyler, TX

Distance: 8.41 miles

Trails: B, C, and D Loops

This morning was not agreeing with me, and I'm a morning person, but I finally hit the road about 8AM and made it to the park about 10AM.  I parked in the lot where the mountain bikers park, loaded up, and headed out.  To get to Loop B, you start on Loop A which is the designated mountain bike track.  I started down the trails on the east side, which weaves through the woods and takes you back towards the north end of the park.

Loop B felt like the longest trail, it probably was, with Loop C being the shortest.  Loop D was the most interesting as far as terrain, and was somewhere around 2.1 miles.  Loop C had a few issues with trail marking, so I did a little backtracking but eventually made it to the right path.  All paths went through the woods which consisted of mostly pine and oak and weaved through ravines.  There were several creek crossings, all with footbridges or something man-made to assist.

Tyler State Park Tidbits:

  • There are a lot of trails to take on and they're all pretty well marked with Loop C being the only area I had a little difficulty finding any marking or beaten down path
  • The trails I did are for hiking and biking and offer plenty of space to get out of the way of one another.
  • I went on a Saturday morning and I was surprised it wasn't very busy - could have been the colder weather?
  • The pines are gorgeous and regal blanketing the trails helping you stay quieter to take it all in even more.

Walking through the pines made me feel like I was in Michigan.  I found myself stopping, looking up while listening to the wind through the needles the way I would near Lake Huron or Lake Michigan.  The woods was very quiet, with few people and outside noises, making it an ideal hike for pondering things.  If it weren't for the yucca (or whatever it is) that grows in the sunlight, I would have never known I was still in Texas.  Enjoy a few photos from the hike and happy hiking to you!

 

#hike1 - Dinosaur Valley State Park

Date: January 6, 2018

Location: Dinosaur Valley State Park - Glen Rose, TX

Distance: 9.55 miles

Trails: Cedar Brake Outer Loop, Paluxy River

I arrived at the park early, before the staff arrived, and checked in.  I left home in shorts, because it was nearly 40 degrees at home, but it was only 25 at the park so I had to change into the pants I brought along.  I was the only car in the parking lot upon arrive, and was one of ten when I left.  The crowds for this park don't usually show up until about 8-9 am, making early morning hikes fairly quiet and peaceful.  I made it 7.5 miles in before seeing anyone, but then it was more people than I could count.  For the first hike of the year, I wanted to "go big" with a longer hike.  I visited this park four times last year and did the same few trails each visit so this hike was also about exploring a part of the park I hadn't hiked in 2017.  Seeing new-to-me trails and the furthest corners of the park boundaries satisfied the need for a little adventure within.

I spent the majority of this hike reflecting on the hikes of 2017 and warming my hands.  Like an idiot, I didn't really plan well for the temperatures, despite my constant preaching of preparedness.  Halfway through the hike, I remembered having gloves in my pack and that was a great relief.  As I warmed my hands, I pondered what worked well last year and what I need to adjust to make the 2018 hikes even better.  Dinosaur Valley is becoming my new go-to park simply because I love the terrain and proximity to my family's home - can accomplish a visit and get a hike in.  All in all, it was a challenging and robust start to my hikes for 2018.

Dinosaur Valley State Park Tidbits:

  • almost all trails require crossing the Paluxy River - always check trail conditions on the park's Facebook page before heading out
  • the park has varied terrain - be sure to check out the trail map for more information
  • many trails are shaded, thought plenty have sunny portions so always bring enough water and wear sun protection
  • tourist attractions such as dinosaur track viewing areas and other dinosaur related businesses outside park boundaries exist for family fun before or after your hike
  • crowds are limited in cooler months, and earlier in the morning - I always try to get there around 7 am to enjoy some solitude

Here are some photos from the hike, enjoy and happy hiking!