In conclusion...

  Happy New Year.  It's 2018, and that means at least 52 more hikes from me.  I finished the final three hikes of 2017 sick as a dog, and the final two in the bitter cold of a harsh winter in Michigan.  I'm alive, still sick, but working on the next 52.  Here are a few stats:

Total mileage: about 212

Solo hikes: 19 (which means 33 were with other people)

Canine companion hikes: 25

Unique locations: 29

Number of hikes I truly enjoyed: 46

The few hikes I didn't enjoy were most likely due to certain trails being closed, having a busy weekend and this feeling more like an obligation than fun, or plain old laziness setting in.  The challenge kept me going, however, even when I didn't want to leave the house.  I won't sit here and say that I love the metro area so much more because of this, but I'll certainly agree there are plenty of places to go hike that make living here more enjoyable.  The mission of this challenge was to get me out and to encourage finding new places and I did that time and time again.

Looking forward to 2018 and the hikes ahead, I want to increase the length and explore a bit more out of my comfort zone.  I'm going to shoot for 400 miles in hopes of getting there, but I will not beat myself up for anything above 300 as longer hikes require places that have longer trails and that just isn't always the case around the DFW metro area.  I have plans to get back to Michigan as much as possible, to both enjoy the hiking and to visit family.


Here's to the new year, new trails, and new experiences all over again.

#hike52 - Herman Vogler Conservation Area

Location: Herman Vogler Conservation Area – Rogers City, MI Date: 12/27/17

Distance: 2 miles

The blizzard in the Upper Peninsula really killed any plans to travel safely up there to see Tahquamenon Falls.  So, I went back to the place down the road from my family's home and took the dogs on a longer hike, further back, to fulfill the final hike for the year.  It was near zero degrees, snowing, and I broke trail on half of this trek today.  All in all, it was the perfect way to end the challenge for the year and encourage me for the new year.  I'm battling a major head cold and so 2 miles was more than enough for my wheezing, congestion, and head pain.  Here are some photos!  Cheers to 2018!

#hike51 - Herman Vogler Conservation Area

Location: Herman Vogler Conservation Area - Rogers City, MI Date: 12/24/17

Distance: 1.2 miles

Took the dogs and went to the trails!  We didn't know what conditions to expect, but there was only about 6 inches of snow on the hiking trails.  The temperature was hovering near 20F, but the woods cut any wind right down making it feel a lot nicer on the face.  These are the trails I did as a kid with my grandma and whatever dog we had then, so it was a special hike today to relive those memories.  In the winter, we'd cross country ski here too, and seeing the tracks from others today was nice.  All in all, not a very long hike, but a lot to take in and it was good breathing to cold, northern air!  Hiking in winter boots is much less comfortable than hikers, just for the record  Chewy the dog had to share the spotlight with Callie, my grandparent's dog on the trail today.



#hike50 - Arbor Hills Nature Preserve

Location: Arbor Hills Nature Preserve Date: 12/20/17

Distance: 1.5

I'm recovering from the stomach flu and thought this would be a nice easy hike.  It was, but I wasn't strong enough to go very far.  The trails are a mix of paved paths and natural surface.  Yesterday was an extremely wet day so all of the natural surface trails were muddy, a clay type mud that cakes on your shoes.  I should have taken photos of my shoes, they were coated in with mud, leaves, and more mud.  We didn't get very far, but it was nice to get outside and take in some fresh air.


#hike49 - Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge

Location: Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge Date: 12/17/17

Distance: 7.6

Trails: Canyon Ridge & part of Greer Island

Today, in one word, was FANTASTIC.  I set out to do two hikes today, but it didn't happen and I've never been more okay with it.  I set out at the FWNC&R not knowing what to expect, and what I got was fantastic.  Yesterday was a day of rain, into the night, and today was the recovery.  The air was a bit heavy, in a good way, and the temps were below 50.  The smells of this trail were loamy, earthy, and quintessential fall/winter.  I was transported today, to somewhere else.  Parts of this trail felt like Michigan or Oregon, while others were very much Texas.  I was just so pleased.  I encountered only 4 people on my out, and 9 on my way back.  Today was cool, full of good smells, and scenic.

Nearing the end of the year...


  • Well, I've hit 200 miles, finally!  I kind of thought I would have done more, so that's the goal for next year - do more, hopefully at least 350 miles.  I know it's not about the distance, but I can't help but think I could do more for both my brain and body.
  • Hikes 49 & 50 are happening this weekend ahead, at two state parks in Texas Hill Country.  I'm technically one week behind, but this weekend will finally level it all out and get me up to date.  It's not about the weeks so much as getting 52 hikes in.
  • Hikes 51 & 52 will happen in Michigan to wrap up the challenge, around Christmas!  I'm hoping to to Hike 52 at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, but we'll see how the weather and time go.
  • I recently discovered that some people do 52 unique hikes and I'm a little bit jealous.  Embarking on 52 unique hikes where I live, and with my lifestyle, just isn't feasible.  Future goals, however, will be to do 52 unique hikes - maybe after a relocation or if I sit down and map out the year in advance.
  • I'm working on a more consistent format for the blog next year - more for my own record keeping purposes than anything else.  A cleaner look, streamlined photos, and some statistics.
  • Remember, I take and share photos to help me remember things as well as to show off how beautiful the world is.  I don't use my DSLR too often and I don't really edit them unless it's clicking the "auto" in Google Photos before importing them to the blog or social media.  I love people that take pro photos, but that's just not something that is likely to happen here.
  • Anyone wanting to do a hike with me next year, let me know!  Maybe we can get together on a trail somewhere near or far.  My other half and I love to travel and will plan to include some hiking away from Texas, so I'll keep this blog in the loop.
  • I'm so thankful for this year.  I was able to hike all over the country - from Alaska to Texas.  I didn't make it to Washington, but that fuels the fire for 2018.

#hike48 - Dinosaur Valley State Park

Location: Dinosaur Valley State Park Date: 12/9/17

Distance: 4 miles

Trails: Some of Cedar Brake Outer Loop, Rocky Ridge

Chewy the Dog and I headed south to Dinosaur Valley State Park to get some quality hiking in.  They had done a prescribed burn the previous two days, so much of the grasses were scorched and the smell of campfire lingered in the air.  We got to the trailhead parking lot and found only ONE other car - what a great start.  From the trailhead, we crossed the river as usual, and headed out along the Cedar Brake Outer Loop.  We connected to the Rocky Ridge trail and then back to the river crossing/trailhead.  It was a beautiful, cool morning with temps no higher than 50.  The sun was out, the hills provided enough challenge, and we only encountered a couple of people.  My attitude about hiking has been relatively negative as of late so this was a really nice reinvigorating moment.  I can't wait to get back out to a trail.


#hike47 - Cedar Ridge Preserve

Location: Cedar Ridge Preserve Date: 12/3/17

Distance: 2.4 miles

I've been having a real internal struggle with getting out to the trail lately and I don't like it one bit.  Aside from moderately busy weekends, household chores, and shorter days, I am so anxious about going hiking and it's all-consuming on weekend mornings when I have the time to go.  But, thanks to Chewy the Dog, I got my self together and we went to the ole standby for some nature time.  It was busy, so busy, and it was overwhelming at first but leveled off.  There were a lot of dogs, a lot of people, and a lot of trail runners.

I was going to do the Fossil Valley Trail with a mix of others, but in my desperation to get out of the way of the trail running folks, I turned without looking where I was turning and went down the Cedar Brake trail.  Cedar Brake is my favorite one there, it's the most woodsy and further from the highways so there is less noise, so this was a happy accident.  I started to get lost in the trees and the way the light was dancing on the ground when it peeked through the clouds.  My body was happy to get exercise and my brain was happy to get a tiny break - though most of the hike was thinking about things and stopping to take notes about those things.

Here's to you, old standby, not too far and usually not too busy...I started WAY too late in the morning.  I'm still ONE hike behind, which I really need to make up - either this weekend or next.


#hike46 - Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center

Location: Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center Date: 11/26/2017

Distance: 3.0 miles

Decided to head up to the Clear Creek trail today north of Dallas-Fort Worth for a change of pace and it was well worth it.  The trail wasn't too busy and it was the perfect day to be outside.  The weekend got away from me with various things that came up so today was much needed.  I'm a week behind on my hikes, but will be making that up over the next couple of weeks, pending any OTHER random happenings.

Today's adventure took us down the Wetlands trail, the Bois d'Arc Loop, and back via the High Trail.  Here are some photos.  Happy Hiking.


#hike45 - Cedar Ridge Preserve

Location: Cedar Ridge Preserve Date: 11/12/2017

Distance: 2.1 miles

I had been avoiding going hiking all weekend - despite needed to get moving.  It was a gray, rainy morning but that wasn't going to stop us.  We went to Cedar Ridge and it was damp.  The rain picked up as we arrived, which was fine.  The trail was slick, but passable, and there weren't that many people out.  It was quick hike, but a solid couple of trails as usual.  So glad Cedar Ridge is so close.

Rainy, misty, wet hikes are officially my thing.  I am ready for winter!

#hike44 - Eagle Mountain Park

Location: Eagle Mountain Park on Eagle Mountain Lake (NW Fort Worth, TX) Date: 11/5/2017

Distance: 5 miles

Today was a special hike because the fall colors finally started to show!  I grew up in Michigan, with fall being that magical time of year when the leaves changed and the weather got cooler.  Things are a little different here in North Texas, as the temps are still high but the leaves have started to turn.  Beautiful oranges, golds, yellows, purples, and reds mixed with the usual greens.  The views from the higher elevations were beautiful and the entire hike was filled with that autumn peacefulness.  The blue grass has turned a majestic purple-red, almost unreal, and the oaks vary from orange to red.  Everything had a touch of morning glow, so that helped too.

We did the main loop, and followed the shoreline and caught a nice breeze from the lake.  Along the way we saw an armadillo, several deer, squirrels, a field mouse, and a murder of crows.  I love sharing this place with others and today I went with my friend Nikki, who's gone before, and my other half who hasn't.  We had a nice big lunch after and it was just a great way to start this week ahead.  Happy hiking everyone!

#hike43 - Goat Island Preserve

Location: Goat Island Preserve - Dallas County Date: 10/29/2017

Distance: 3.1 miles

Was sick of the same old places, so we tried something new that I had forgotten about in Dallas County.  Goat Island Preserve is a neat little place along the Trinity River.  Today we walked down what appears to be an old access road for the locks and dams along the river.  There are a ton of off-shoots for mountain biking per DORBA.  It was an easy walk with plenty of opportunities to trek through the woods.  This was a nice way to enjoy a Sunday morning.  We arrived to an empty lot and only passed three people on their horses on the way out.  Happy hiking!

#hike42 - Cedar Ridge Preserve

Location: Cedar Ridge Preserve Date: 10/28/2017

Distance: 2.25 miles

Today Chewy the Dog and I went to Cedar Ridge.  I was going to go somewhere dogs weren't allowed, but he gave me the look when I was leaving that I couldn't ignore.  We walked to Cattail Pond, a little past and then back up the Escarpment Trail.  All in all, an easy and peaceful hike.  I felt refreshed and relaxed during and after the hike.  It was a brisk 37 degrees this morning, with it getting as low as 30.  There were quite a few people there, as usual, probably due to the cooler temps.  This is a make up hike for last week, I'll go again either later or tomorrow for this week's.  Here are some pics from our stroll.  Happy Hiking.

#hike41 - Cedar Mountain Nature Preserve

Location: Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center Date: 10/15/2017

Distance: 1 mile

Had a busy weekend, so went out to the old standby.  Walked the path with the dog and my other half.  Nothing too exciting, but it was around 5 so the tops of the trees were looking Golden with sunshine.  There was a sign along the trail warning of poison oak being prominent and to watch out for copperheads.  Ah, Texas, snakes and spiders galore!


#hike40 - Lake Fort Smith State Park

Location: Lake Fort Smith State Park / Ozark National Forest Date: 10/7/2017

Distance: 3 miles

Trails: Ozark Highlands Trail

My other half and I (along with Chewy the Dog) went up to Rogers, AR to visit some friends and decided to take a morning/noon hike a few exits down at Lake Fort Smith State Park.  We did some Google image searches of the place, checked out the state park website and and figured it would be a good, quick hike we could fit in to the schedule.

It rained Friday night into Saturday morning, so the sky was still gray and the ground still damp.  The rocks were slippery, making it a little difficult for Chewy the Dog.  We started at the state park visitor center and went about 1.5 miles into the woods before deeming it too slippery for the dog and realizing it was later than we thought.  The trail itself was well maintained in near the state park, but became narrow and slightly more difficult beyond.

Highlights: mosses, rocky overhangs, some leaf color change, and the smell of the woods obviously.  Here are some photos!  I'd like to revisit this trail - maybe without the dog and with less time restraints - to go a bit further into the woods.

#hike39 - Caprock Canyons State Park

Location: Caprock Canyons State Park Date: 9/30/17

Distance: 9 miles

Trails: Main highlights were Canyon Loop and Upper Canyon (did some walking down random stream beds, along the roadway, etc)

Trail Map

It was gray and misty, mild humidity, and cool in temperature.  We set out from the campground down to a desert stream bed to see if it would lead to where we needed to go.  Long story short, the stream bed did not take us where we wanted to go so we made our way back to camp and out to the road and onward to the trailhead parking lot - about a mile or so.  Started on the Canyon Loop trail, which was familiar from our spring trek, and headed around to the Upper Canyon trail.  We followed the Upper Canyon trail to the northeast corner of the park to a spot called Fern Cave.  We passed two women hiking out of Fern Cave and they said it was spectacular.  As we headed down the steep rocks into the cave, we realized they weren't kidding.  The natural spring and temperature control create the perfect habitat for these ferns to grow.  I've included a photo from 3/4 of the way down the descent:


The dog enjoyed fresh, cool water, and then we made our way out.  We ran into a couple that was camping near us - and their dogs - and chatted for a second before heading back the way we came.  We passed the women we saw earlier, they were enjoying a snack break, and we carried on.  We get almost two miles down - to the point where we almost turn right on the Canyon Loop trail, and we are stopped because there is a huge bison on the trail.  The bison was rolling in the clay when he wasn't staring us down.  The women catch up, we brainstorm, and try a few options for getting around him as you aren't supposed to get too close or interact.   We finally find a path through the woods - or overgrown brush really - that get us far enough around him to be safe-ish.  The bison did start coming off trail towards where we were, but we just booked it as quickly as we could to put distance between us.  The last mile-mile and a half was spent processing a situation I would have never guessed would happen.  A lesson learned is always be prepared - it may have not been a bear or mountain lion, but a bison could be deadly if he charges.

By far, my most memorable hike yet.  Here are some photos:

Happy hiking!  Here are some stats I compiled, after seeing that Sara Beth did something like this in her blog which you can find here: Inner Compass Blog

Hike 39 of 52

Total Miles: 174.5

Total solo hikes so far: 13/39

Total companion hikes so far: 27/39

Total hikes w/ the dog: 14/39

Total unique locations: 24/39

Total number of hikes fully enjoyed: 36/39

#hike38 - Ouachita National Forest

Location: Ouachita National Forest Date: 9/23/17

Distance: 7.73

Trails: Old Military Trail to Ouachita National Recreation Trail

Trail Info

I woke up at 3, left by 3:30 and made it to the trail by 7:45.  I had a few stops along the way, but finally got there!  The drive was fantastic - no traffic, pink sunrise over Oklahoma hills, and no traffic...ha.

I parked at the Old Military Picnic area and took the Old Military Trail south.  It started off heading downhill via some large switchbacks.  After about a mile, it met up with the Ouachita Trail.  I headed east and went for couple of miles to Potato Hill Vista.  The trail was mostly up-hill to Potato Hill.  From there, I went a bit more east but turned around as the bugs and my legs were annoying.

I encountered probably fifty big spiders and their webs, walking sticks, horse flies, and various jumping insects.  By far, out of 38 hikes, the most annoying for bugs.  The terrain was one of the most challenging for me, as I live in Texas and our trails are mostly flat.  On my return trip, I encountered 10 people - which was much less than expected.

The forest consists of a mix between mostly oak and pine.  The pines are always a treat.  I would like to go back and hike a bit more when it cools down a bit more and bugs go dormant.  Highly recommend this trail for anyone in TX-OK-AR area.

#hike37 - Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway

Location: Lake Mineral Wells State Park Date: 9/16/17

Distance: 6.62 miles

Trails: Primitive Camping Trail; Cross Timber Orange, Green, Yellow, Maroon, and Black

Here's a trail map for reference: Lake Mineral Wells Trail Map

We - Eric, Nikki, and myself - arrived around 8:30 am. We set off without a real plan, but knew we wanted to get back to the large elm tree near the end of the yellow trail. We started on the purple route, which gives great views of the lake and then takes you through the woods to the mixed use equestrian trails. We eventually made our way around to the yellow trail. We came to the old elm and it appeared to have died, I'm currently looking into the situation. From there, we took the orange trail back to the purple/green/black trail overlap and encountered a lot of sand. At one river crossing, we spotted three water snakes and they started coming our direction, so we booked it out of there to avoid any confrontation. After miles of breaking through spider webs as the first to hit the trail, we finally passed packs of people heading out as we came in - perfect timing and worth the webs. Enjoy some photos, below!

#hike36 - Eagle Mountain Park

Location: Eagle Mountain Park on Eagle Mountain Lake (NW Fort Worth, TX) Date: 9/9/17

Distance: 5.11 miles

Trails: All south of the parking area

I was excited to show my friend this park - as I knew she'd appreciate it.  I know it's a repeat of a last week's, but I just couldn't resist with limited time this weekend.  We hiked the Main Park Trail, South Overlook Trail, Overlook Trail, and the Shoreline Trail.  Starting at 7:30 offered great morning light and kept the amount of people to minimum.