Thursday, July 31, 2014

San Angelo State Park, North Gate

Donna and I try to walk about 3 miles every other day. Usually, we just walk in our neighborhood because it is convenient, but sometimes we venture out to other places in the area, such as the O.C. Fisher Dam, Sante Fe Park along the Concho River in downtown San Angelo, or Spring Creek Park out on Lake Nasworthy. We like walking in the state park because it is so peaceful and quiet, we don't have to worry about traffic, and there is always the chance to see some wildlife. Normally we go to the south gate, which is probably only about 5 miles from our house, but this morning, we wanted something different, so we ventured to the north gate, just outside Grape Creek.

The north gate has an entirely different look from the park area at the south gate, or shore. The north entrance is literally only a stone's throw from the North Concho River, and that makes a lot of difference. There are very few native trees in West Texas once you get west of a north/south line passing through Abilene, Ballinger, and Eden. Most of the native trees  in this part of the country -- aside from the mesquite -- are pecans, oaks, and cottonwoods, mostly hugging the banks of rivers and streams. So when you enter the park at the north gate, you see tall, towering trees. That right there makes the north gate so much different from the south gate.

We parked our car at the gate, then walked the paved road all the way in to the camping area and back. There was only 1 guest in the campground, and we saw no one stirring in that campsite. The park host was staying in a motorhome at the gate, and we visited with her as she went about her duties. She told us she had seen a large flock of turkeys just a few minutes before, but they were nowhere to be seen when we got to the area where she had spotted them.

We also paused at the park's prairie dog town, but none of the residents were stirring at that early morning hour. The south park also has a prairie dog town, but the ones we've seen previously at the north shore seem chubbier.

Our walk today was just over 3 miles. The weather was perfect as a cool front had moved through a few hours earlier and the day was slightly overcast. Below are some pictures of the park.

View of the campground shows the old growth pecan trees that shade the campsites.
Lush vegetation along the river
Another view of the generously shaded campground
This shot illustrates how the trees give away to prairie as you move away from the river
A prairie dog mound. The owner was sleeping in this morning.
Entrance to the prairie dog's home.
The park's mailbox in the shape of a fifth-wheel travel trailer.
Restrooms and showers at the campground for those who are without.
The North Concho River, with a small pool of water. It's getting dry out here again.















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