Tag Archives: fun

Muir Woods National Monument

On a recent trip out West I had the opportunity to visit a special park in Northern California. Muir Woods National Monument is a “Tree Lover’s Monument” as John Muir said in the early 1900s when he bought the land. He would later donate it to the newly established National Parks System.

It is normally $7 to enter the park, but I was there on a free weekend.

parking at muir woods

Wear/bring shoes that are appropriate for slippery, muddy, wet, and potentially long uphill trails (more on that later).

We left San Francisco and arrived at Muir Woods about 25 minutes later. We arrived early and it was a good thing we did.

 

The limited parking lots fill up quickly. You are probably going to have to park some distance away and hike up to the park.

It’s worth it.

trail in the woods

Pictures don’t really do the park justice and I’m not nearly a good enough writer to come close to describing the sites and sounds.

It was a little difficult to take pictures. My GS4 did not like the odd lighting of the park.

And here’s one with people for a reference to the size of some of these trees.

Now, for the helpful hints part of the post. The ocean view trail is long, narrow, muddy, rocky, steep, and a great challenge. Enter at your own risk. Don’t blame me if/when you make it to the top and realize it’s too foggy to actually see the ocean. 🙂

Garner State Park

Park #34 on our quest to visit all the Texas State Parks and Historic Sites was Garner State Park.

It was very cold and started to rain when we arrived to the park. Even with the conditions we enjoyed the unique features of this park. The Frio (pictured above and below) is frequented by many during the summer for tubing activities. You wouldn’t want to do that in November. Besides being really cold, there’s also very little water.

Check the visitor’s center in the center of the park for path tags, wildlife viewing suggestions, and other park souvenirs. The main office at the entrance is for entrance fees ONLY and don’t forget to take a number on the way in.

There is plenty for the whole family in this park. There is a sand volleyball court, a basketball court, a miniature golf course (seasonal and weather-permitting), camping, hiking, swimming and tubing (seasonal), and much more. You can see why this is one of the more popular parks.

November at Lost Maples

Our 34th park was Lost Maples State Natural Area. We headed out early from Austin to beat the crowd…and then found that we were the only ones crazy enough to brave the weather.

lost maples and path through park

It was 32 degrees and muddy, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

There were many maples that still held their leaves, but many of the trees were bared during the recent storms. This was definitely one of the most colorful parks that we have visited so far.

There were also some interesting formations at the park like Monkey Rock.

Can you see it? How about now?

The view from the top of the East Trail was definitely worth the climb.

About that climb…1.5 miles straight up a rock staircase. It was challenging, but it paid off.

Hill Country Natural Area Pt 2

After the hike at the “falls” (see pt 1 of our trip to HCNA) we headed to the other end of the park.

This is the old ranch house at the park.

The Bar O Ranch House from the late 1800s
You can almost see the parking area off in the distance. That parking is at the Equestrian Camping Area on the map.

This hill is the same height as Enchanted Rock so it’s a pretty good climb, but worth it for the great views.

To get to this spot park at the Equestrian Camp Area. Take path 1 to 5a, to 5b. The trails are marked fairly well, but if in doubt take the path leading up. 6 goes around the hill and 5b looks like a staircase (below) so it’s pretty obvious which is 5b which leads to the top and some amazing views.

5b

Another great park in Texas and I highly recommend a visit. Like I said in my other post on this park take lots of water with you. There’s no fill station or park store to get more water. If you find yourself short on water drive back into town and get more.

Hill Country Natural Area

After a morning hiking at Guadalupe River State Park we headed out to Hill Country Natural Area for the afternoon. If Guadalupe River State Park is dry then there needs to be a new word to describe the conditions at Hill Country Natural Area.

Here are the falls at the NE end of the park.


Here…I’ll zoom in to where the water is supposed to be:

Yes, I said falls as in waterfalls. I was standing where the falls are supposed to…fall. Apparently this used to be a good catfish hole. The park ranger used the words “a couple of weeks ago,” but I think he might have been sippin’ on the hooch. There was no trace of water. Anywhere.

There is no park store and nowhere in the park to get water. You must pack it in. There weren’t many at the park so it was very quiet, but that also means you’re on your own and there may/may not be a cell signal while you’re out on the trail. Keep that in mind and stay safe.