Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hike Report: Looping to Cougar Outlook

My brother Larry and his wife Nancy are visiting. Yesterday we did a 6+ mile loop hike at San Angelo State park.

It was still a bit cool, perhaps in the upper 60s, when we started our hike at 9:00 AM from Pulliam Ridge in the southern section of San Angelo State Park. We would follow a route very close to one I reported in "San Angelo SP: January 20, 2012" more than 2 years ago.

After descending Pulliam Ridge on the old paved road on the southwest side of the hill, we cut through the Potts Creek area on an old trail not marked on the trail map developed by Rick Ogan more than 3 years ago and available for a small fee at the park office. To my knowledge, it is the best map of the hiking trails of the park. However, if you use Google Earth and zoom in, the trails will appear, complete with names.

Again, the trail we used to cut across Potts Creek to Antelope Ridge is not on the map, but veers off the Potts Creek Trail near the old corral area at the base of Pulliam Ridge.

Once atop Antelope Ridge, we cut through the old day use area with its eroding picnic tables and old restroom. We picked up the old paved road and followed it almost due south to near its intersection with FM 2288. Just before reaching the park boundary, we turned due north on another old park road, which took us past a cutoff to Bell's Point.

About half a mile past the Bell's Point turnoff, we came to a rest area and took a brief break.
Nancy, Larry, and Donna at the rest area. Note the bike rack, water fountain, water trough, and hitching rack, all to the right of Donna. There are numerous such places along the trails, making this park a good place for equestrians and bikers as well as hikers.
After a short break, we took the River Bend Trail for the next mile or so. At the second intersection with a park road, we turned north and headed to Cougar Outlook, our destination for the day.

Larry (left) and I along the River Bend Trail on our way to Cougar Outlook. Larry prefers shorts, but in country like this where you have so many thorny plants, not to mention rattlesnakes, Donna and I prefer long pants, even on hot days. Larry also likes a big Teddy Roosevelt stick. Donna and I prefer the lighter, telescoping aluminum hiking poles.

Cougar Outlook, taken from the River Bend Trail.

We stopped at Cougar Outlook for about 15 minutes to rest and snack on summer sausage, crackers, and cheese. From the outlook, you can see the North Concho River to the north. I was glad to see some water still in it, for this country is really dry now, having received only a third of an inch of rain in the last 4 months. At that rate, we'll get a mere 1 inch in a year's time. That's not good.

Nancy and Larry enjoying the shade at Cougar Outlook. Hitching rack for horses in the foreground.

North Concho River. The river bends and flows right from here. I was surprised at the amount of water in the river. Compare it to the picture below taken more than 2 years ago, when rain was more plentiful and we were not as far into the drought.
The Concho River, taken from near the same spot as above but on January 20, 2012. Since this photo was taken in the dead of winter, trees do not have green leaves.

From Cougar Outlook, we took the Flintstone Trail so that Larry and Nancy could see the table and chairs that give the trail its name. (See previous hike report for pictures). We then picked up the main trail from the Burkett Trail Head (South Park) to the Bell Trail Head (North Park) for the most direct route back to Pulliam Ridge. We did pass through a herd of Longhorns on our way. They were gathered around a watering trough near an old restroom.

Longhorns we encountered on our return trip. Note the little calf right-center. Silver water trough is behind herd.

Donna and the longhorns.

This was a good hike for a group of worn out old folks. There were very few up and down sections, and most of the hike was on a road or double track trail. Weather was good, though it was beginning to get hot at the end of the hike. We saw one bike rider along Antelope Ridge and another on the River Bend Trail. Otherwise, we had the trails to ourselves. There was quite a bit of road noise from FM 2288 anytime we drew near that highway (first half of hike). Otherwise, it was a peaceful hike.

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