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.

Guadalupe River State Park Visit

We went out to Guadalupe River State Park on a recent outing. I knew this park would be dry, but when I saw the flow rate posted at the park store I knew it was worse than I thought. The sign said “0 feet/second.”

There’s no tubing, very little to swim in, and if you’re fishing, bring the small hooks.

It wasn’t more than a few inches deep on avg through this area. Upstream was a little better, but it wasn’t a long stretch of waist-high water and then back to near dry conditions.

Above you can see where the water has carved into the rock along the river. This was probably a good 25 feet lateral and 15 feet above the current water level. Did I mention the river was low?

Old Tunnel State Park

One of the newest state parks in Texas is the Old Tunnel State Park. The main attraction here is the bat emergence nightly from May to October.

Open year-round from sunrise to sunset for general use.

Bat viewing nightly May through October. The trail to the lower viewing area is closed each evening. Monday through Wednesday evenings the trail and lower viewing area are not open to the public. On Thursday through Sunday evenings, the trail will only be open to those visitors who pay admission to view the bats at the lower viewing area.

For the most up-to-date emergence information, call the toll-free information line at (866) 978-2287.”

Plan your visit ahead of time and find a place for dinner close by. It is a bit out of the way and “out in the middle of nowhere” off of Old Fred Road and Old San Antonio Road. If you spot Old Fred that’s just a bonus.

 

Visit to Barrington Farm

Barrington Farm is a living history farm similar to the the Sauer Beckmann Living History Farm at LBJ State Park.

If you haven’t been to one of these living history farms I highly recommend a visit. It is educational and entertaining. Ask lots of questions.

farm house at Barrington Farm

The farm still uses the smokehouse. They slaughter a hog in January and smoke meat for the rest of the year.

The farm has a beautiful Polish Crested Red that guards the hens.

There are also two slave houses that are present at the farm.

There is not quite as much to check out at the Barrington Farm as the Sauer Beckmann Farm, but I still recommend the stop.

Pedernales Falls SP: Fishing

This past Saturday I made it out to Pedernales Falls SP again. This time I brought the fishing gear with me and headed to the Pedernales Falls overlook area.

The spot I chose was just North of this spot though I won’t give away the exact spot. Where’s the fun in that?

Here’s the first giant I caught. No laughs. I was in it for the sport and not to find dinner.

And the biggest catch of the day…

It was a lot of fun until the families with untrained children showed up and thought it was a good idea to throws rocks into the water. I wish I had the camera out to get a shot of the fish throwing up the peace sign and disappearing never to be seen again.

By the way, “Harassment of Hunters, Trappers, or Anglers (Sportsmen’s Rights Act) is punishable by a fine of $200 to $2000 and/or 180 days in jail.”

Until that point it was a wonderful day out on the river. There were some bigger fish in this spot, but they weren’t interested in the bait I tried. Maybe next time.

*No fish were harmed in the production of this blog post.

Pedernales Falls (again)

I made it out to Pedernales on Monday after the heavy rains. Got some great pictures with the old camera I dug out of the closet. Easy to say that this park is my favorite so far. Every time I visit I see something I haven’t seen before.

picture of rocks at state park

limestone cave at state park

old tree at state park

Doeskin Ranch – Creek Trail

map of park

The creek trail starts at the informationschool at Doeskin kiosk near the restrooms* and follows the old homestead (no longer there), school (mid to late 1800’s structure), and then continues along the creek until it meets back up with the main trail (rimrock trail).

The old school building provides a small picture of what living on the ranch must have been like.

Even though the creek trail is only a half mile from the ponds and prairies trail the landscape is completely different. You’ll also see lots of grasshoppers along this trail. Watch for snakes (depending on time of year) and keep an eye out for the many birds and butterflies. The creek will have water in it if there has been a recent rain. Otherwise you can explore the old creek bed.

The old trees on this trail also provide plenty of photo opportunities. This was one of my favorite from today.

old tree at ranch

Sheldon Lake State Park

Park #17 on our Texas State Parks adventures was Sheldon Lake State Park. This park is just East of Houston about 20 minutes from downtown.

We almost missed the turnoff to get into the park because the entrance was blocked by a passing train.

entrance to sheldon lake state park

The park office was closed because they don’t want to be open on the weekends when people may visit. Just kidding of course, but it did seem odd. There was no entrance fee so that was nice.

There were plenty of picture opportunities at this park. The front of the park has several ponds with lilies and other blooming flowers around.

pond at sheldon lake state park

Each pond had it’s own personality. Some looked calm.

sheldon lake state park
The detail in the full size is pretty decent for an iphone. Click the image to see the full-size image.

And others looked like “several things in there could kill me.”

pond at sheldon lake state park with many tree stumps
No distortion here by the way. That’s just an optical illusion from how the stumps and leaves are naturally arranged. Very interesting result from a quick point and shoot with the iPhone.

 

We saw some wildlife along the trail.

rabbit on trail

And were warned of some others.

A recent picture of an alligator spotted at Sheldon Lake State Park can be found at another blog. The picture there was taken by Sandy over at “What Shall I Make Today?” Click the image for her alligator pic.

Between the smaller ponds at the front and Sheldon Lake is a great observation tower. The elevator is powered by solar panels. (Elevator currently undergoing maintenance. Call ahead to check availability).

observation tower

sheldon lake

the bent pine tree

Be careful at the Bent Pine Tree. While standing and reading the sign we noticed our feet were quickly covered in ants. They weren’t fire ants, but still annoying.

Overall a nice park with much to offer for visitors of all ages.