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.

Honey Creek State Natural Area

The picture below is a good summary of our trip to Honey Creek. We arrived at the park at 10:00 am.

from http://myfreedom2roam.com/Camping/HoneyCreekStateNaturalArea/index.html

Saturdays at 9:00 am really is the only time the public is allowed to enter Honey Creek Natural Area. Fieldtrips may be the other way, but I’m not sure.

Maybe next time…

Here’s someone else’s post about the Natural Area that is very informative.

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?

Lake Somerville State Park and Trailway

On our way home from Houston (Battleship Texas and San Jacinto Monument) we stopped by Lake Somerville State Park.

The park has an office on both sides of the lake. The reason for this is that the lake is very long. It does take some time to drive from one office to the other so if you plan on visiting both offices (path tags at both) make sure you allow for about 45 minutes to get from one to the other. The other key piece of info is that the Birch Creek Unit Office closes at 4:45 pm. We arrived at 4:55 and were unable to get our path tag.

The park and lake are very beautiful. Some trails do need some maintenance. It doesn’t look like they cut some of them back much. Make sure to wear jeans/boots on the more hairy trails as there are some poisonous snakes out and about especially around the shore.

This was one of the trails that looked safer.

It turned out to be the one we saw a rather large water moccasin cross right in front of us.

Again, the lake was beautiful and there were lots of people out enjoying the water.

lake somerville

lake somerville

Plan to spend a weekend at this park to enjoy the lake. Be sure to check the TPWD site for good directions and updates on the water level.

Guadalupe River State Park Drought Conditions

From TPWD:

August 13, 2013 – All water in the park is currently off Monday through Thursday. Restrooms, showers and all potable water sources are currently closed during this time due to the drought related water shortage. Weekday camping is only available in the Turkey Sink, water and electric, campground and portable toilets are available to park visitors.

Full water service will be available for weekend Camping (Friday through Sunday) in the Turkey Sink, water and electric , campground and Cedar Sage, water only, campground. Wagon Ford campground will remain closed and the day use area restroom will remain out of service, however portable toilets area available to park visitors in the day use area. Call the park for the most up to date information.

 

Might be a good time to visit the park to see it in the summer without tubers and campers. (silver lining right?)

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 State Park Bird Blind

After the storms on Monday, I headed out the Perd to see if the rains had any impact on the water level. While out there I remembered that there’s plenty about this park that I haven’t experienced yet. One of those things is the bird blind at the park.

My expectations were really low because I thought “low budget and state park must mean bench and tree = bird blind.” Boy was I wrong.

If you haven’t had the pleasure, put it at the top of your list for your next visit to the park.

From the park store, head towards the main falls. Keep an eye out on the left side of the road for the parking area for the blind. It is well-marked and should be easily found.

To get the most out of your visit and to be respectful of others at the blind:

  1. Turn your radio off before you turn into the parking area.
  2. No talking unless you are able to whisper (not all people are able to in my experience)
  3. When you park, try to park at the far end of the lot away from the entrance to the blind.
  4. Close the door to your car as quietly as possible
  5. Don’t set your alarm. Lock your doors, but no honking of the horn to set the alarm.
  6. Enter the blind quietly (don’t let the gate slam)

There are two large bird blinds once you enter. The first one on the right, pictured below, has a few hummingbird feeders.

I saw several different species in just a short time in this blind.

There is another blind in this area that has a special visitor right now.

I was lucky to get there around feeding time. The volunteer, Mr. Strickland, said that the baby fox, pictured below, shows up every day around 5pm and stays about an hour.

According to Mr. Strickland, there is a mother and a couple of other young foxes. However he had not seen them in a few days and the worry is that something might have happened to them. Hopefully this little guy is not on his own so young.

The park is in the middle of a large project at the blind/surrounding area. They are building a large star gazing area. Mr. Strickland said that there would be a telescope and accompanying facility. I look forward to visiting this facility when it opens.

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

Summertime at Doeskin Ranch

I haven’t been out to one of my favorite hiking spots in Central Texas in quite some time. I headed out to Doeskin Ranch today to check out the end of a hot June at Doeskin Ranch.

map of refuge

This is a great protected park with plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing. For the grasshopper lovers out there Doeskin must be paradise. You easily lose count of the different grasshoppers and crickets you come across on just a short hike at this park.

Take the ponds and prairies trail (near the restrooms*) for a 0.4 mile walk among the flat, open area of the park. The grass has really grown up in this area and the grasshoppers are plentiful. Because of the abundance of grasshoppers, there’s also many grasshopper sparrows out at the park. These birds have wonderful coloration and fly around at chest height providing good opportunity to see them up close as they fly by hopper hunting.

*restrooms are compost restrooms and provide minimal facilities