Up to this time, all of our hikes had originated from the southern section of the park. San Angelo State Park has two sides. The southern gate is just outside the western city limits of San Angelo. In fact, a housing subdivision known as Highland Range backs up to this section of the park. The northern gate is located just west of the community of Grape Creek, which lies north of San Angelo along US Highway 87, which goes to Big Spring, Lubbock, Amarillo, and points beyond.
We have just about covered all the trails in the southern section of the park, so this time we journeyed to the north section and started our hike at Bell's Trailhead. The northern section of the park has facilities for horses, including pens for holding them for overnight camping. As a result, this part of the park is used much more by horses, so it pays to watch your step.
|Bell's Trailhead in the north part of San Angelo State Park|
|Rest area on the Dinosaur Trail; note water trough for horses. Lots of prickly pear.|
|Old Rugged Cross atop Big Hill|
|Stone marker at base of Old Rugged Cross|
The marker for the cross indicated a connection with Loyd Bell. The Bell name occurs often in this area. We started our hike at Bell's Trailhead, for example, and there is a lookout on another trail in the park called Bell's Point, with a marker with similar contents. In San Angelo, there is Bell Street in the eastern part of town. I'd like to learn more about the Bell family, or at least Loyd Bell.
The next stretch of the trail was typical West Texas scenery, for the most part. We journeyed along the Badlands Trail for a while. There is a stretch through a dry creek area that looks like the badlands, so it is easy to see how the trail got its name. We then took the River Bend Trail, all the while hiking south.
Donna and I have hiked for several years. There are times when I begin a hike that I feel great, but after a couple of miles, I just don't seem to have the energy to hike very far. At other times, I start sluggish and dread the hike, but after a mile or two, I get my hiking legs and then really enjoy the hike. On this day, I started slow and never got better. After about 3 miles or so, I was ready to turn around and head home.
We soon reached a trail that turned east and headed towards a junction with other trails which would take us back to the trailhead. We came to an area called Ghost Camp. As with other areas of the park I've documented before, Ghost Camp is simply a collection of abandoned picnic tables and other facilities from the days when water actually backed up this far from O.C. Fisher Lake.
|Abandoned boat ramp near Ghost Camp|
After leaving our rest area, we headed north along Slick Rock Trail, then took the Scenic Loop Trail. Just as we were entering the Scenic Loop Trail, our bike riders came by on their way back. They were making excellent time. Oh, to be young again!
The entire Scenic Loop area is dotted with native pecan trees. Along the trail, we spotted another unexpected site, a deer carcass.
|Deer carcass on Scenic Loop Trail|
This is a good trail for summer hikes because of the tree growth along the river. However, the river is really low these days, with no constant flow. Sometimes, there are only pools of water.
|Pool of water in North Concho riverbed along Shady Trail|
We need to do another 2 hikes or so in this section of the park, and then we will have covered just about the entire park.