Monday, April 8, 2013

Lockhart SP: Hike Report

I hiked the trails at Lockhart State Park the morning of March 27th. The hike was an enjoyable one overall, and I would label the trails as easy with the exception of a couple of steep grades I encountered. Should you decide to hike these trails, a few of words of caution. First, the park map is not entirely accurate. Second, the park map does not name the trails, though signs along the trail do. Third, signs are not available at every intersection. I’ll address each of these issues in this hike review.

I began my hike at the bridge near the picnic area where the main park road cross Clear Fork Creek. The Clear Fork Trail begins here, and it follows Clear Fork Creek downstream for about half a mile.

Trail head for Clear Fork Trail. Although sign indicates name of trail, the park map does not.
Cascade on creek near beginning of trail

My first difficulty occurred about halfway down this trail. I came across a fork in the trail that did not appear on the map. There was a sign, though, indicating that the left fork was the Wild Rose Loop Trail. I decided to follow the trail. I turned left, then immediately encountered another fork. Thinking this was the beginning of the loop, I turned right to begin the loop.

Wild Rose Loop Trail, which is not on the park map at all.
As I moved along, I noticed numerous side trails, or areas that had been cleared. I decided to stick to the main trail, and felt better when it began curving to the left as if to loop. I continued along the trail, which soon passed through an impenetrable thicket; perhaps these bushes were the wild roses.

Are these the wild roses for which the trail is named? The thorn-covered brush is so thick that a mouse would have trouble getting through.

Indeed, they did contain a number of thorns. By this time, the trail had curved again, and I was confident the trail was looping. Soon a downed tree crossed the trail. Previous hikers had forged a path through the branches of the downed tree, and I followed, but soon came to the end of the trail at a fenced in area that looked as if it might be used to capture animals.

I do not know what this is. Looks like some type of pen to catch animals.
I began backtracking, wondering if I had missed the trail. Sure enough, at the downed tree, the trail curved away back to the west, and I followed it. Again, I came to one or two side trails, but kept to the main trail, and soon came back to the original trail junction. This loop trail really needs to be mapped in its entirety, and signs need to be erected at all side trails to prevent hikers from straying.

Back on the main trail, I soon came to my creek crossing. Fortunately, I had brought my hiking pole along, and I really needed it to keep my balance in a couple of areas where the rocks dipped below the water on the crossing. I was soon across, though, and in the circle on the Clear Fork Creek Camping Loop.

Creek crossing.

I then had 2 trail options: the Creek View Trail or the High Trail. I choose the Creek View Trail for it would provide a longer hike.

Trail heads just after creek crossing. These are at the end of the paved road on the Clear Fork Creek Camping Loop. Trails are not named on map. Trail on left is Creek View Trail, which is a bit longer.

For the first 100 or 200 yards, the trail did follow the creek, but it eventually turned away from the creek to follow a fence line heading west. There were a couple of unmarked side trails from this trail, by the way. Just after turning from the creek, the Persimmon Trail spurred off to the right, only to rejoin the main trail farther down. This spur is on the map, by the way, but it is not named. Somewhere along this stretch is a pretty respectable grade. When you get to the top, be sure to look back; you’ll have a decent view looking towards the city of Lockhart.

My back trail from the top of the grade. I'm about level with the tree tops.
An aging barn soon appears on the left. About this time, another spur trail – this one unmarked but on the map – veers off to the right. It will rejoin the main trail near the rusting windmill just beyond the old barn.

Windmill has seen better days

Just beyond the windmill, where the trail turns sharply north, the trail name changes to the Chisholm Trail. The next trail junction is a bit confusing. The map shows the main trail (which is the now the Chisholm Trail) continuing straight with a loop trail off to the right. Actually, the Chisholm Trail takes a 90 degree turn to the left down a slope. The loop trail, which is the Comanche Loop Trail, continues straight. It is a short loop trail. Go ahead and take it. At the farthest point of the loop, it overlooks the golf course below, but there are very view clear views because of the trees. Follow the loop back to the Chisholm Trail, then follow the trail down the hill.

Confusing trail junction. Picture taken from Chisholm Trail. Map indicates Chisholm Trail goes straight. As shown in the picture, the trail actually turns left. The trail continuing straight is the loop trail.
Somewhere down the slope, a creek appears on the left. The trail continues on down, then suddenly comes to a T next to a bench. Which way to go? Well, there is no such T on the map, and there is no sign on the trail.

Another confusing trail junction near the end of the Chisholm Trail. There is no sign on the trail, and the map does not indicate a junction at all. Take the trail to the left.

I took the trail to the left, and fortunately, this was the correct choice. I do not know where the trail to the right goes. Almost immediately, you’ll pass a side trail call the Rattlesnake Loop. I declined to follow this trail because it is not on the map at all. You’ll then cross a couple of culverts and see the green for hole #3 on your right. A gate appears in the trail. Just skirt around it to the left and you’ll be on another paved park road.

Green #3 along end of Chisholm Trail

Skirt fence to the left

Veer to your left and you’ll see the beginning of the Caddy Trail. This is a short, steep trail that leads to the Recreation Hall. I reached the top just in time to see 3 turkeys wandering away. The views from this hill are about the best in the park.

Near top of Caddy Trail. Entire trail was as steep as indicated in this picture.

Recreation Hall at top of Caddy Trail
CCC Trail Head behind Recreation Hall. This is perhaps the highest point in the park. The trail down is very steep.
View from the top. Note water tower for nearby Lockhart to the left, and cupola of courthouse in center.
Trail down is pretty steep

The trail continues behind the Recreation Hall. It is quite steep, so take your time. Once at the bottom, the trail is complete and you’ll find yourself at the tee box for the second hole.

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