Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hike Report: Nopales Ridge Hiking Trail, Lake Brownwood State Park

We didn't just play with our new trailer while at Lake Brownwood State Park -- we also took a hike.If you visit the park, you'll get a facilities map when you enter the park. If you go online, you'll also see a trails map. The trails map shows a Nopales Ridge Hiking Trail, which I had not noticed on our previous trip. It's a short trail, just under 3 miles; by my standards, that's really just a walk, not a true hike. But since we were doing so much work on the trailer, we really didn't have much time, so it looked like a good trail for us.

The Nopales Ridge Hiking Trail is a loop trail, and it starts at a trail head on the far east side of the loop. Basically, this is just a walk through a pasture dominated by oak trees, some prickly pear cactus, mesquite trees, grass, tasajillo, and a few other native plants. The most unique feature of the trail is a ridge running more or less north to south. Along the ridge, there are numerous rock outcroppings and thick oak mottes. Otherwise, the trail is fairly level.The ridge is probably an ascent of 30 or 40 feet, so it is very gentle.

If starting the trail where we did, mile markers appear every quarter mile along the trail. We followed the trail in a counter-clockwise direction. We hit the ridge after the half-mile marker on going out, and when coming in we hit the ridge at, I believe, the 1.75 mile marker. A trail junction at the 1 mile marker leads off to the park headquarters, and this trail should connect you with other trails in the northern part of the park if you wish to extend your hike.

Trailhead. The trail goes either right or left. We went right. Sign shows a map of the trail.

Trail weaves through oak thickets and open pasture land.

Trail markers such as this half mile marker appear every quarter mile.

We saw no wildlife on our hike other than a woodpecker. We saw plenty of scat on the trail, though, as well as various tracks, so there is wildlife in the park. I also heard coyotes each night of our stay, so those little rascals are running around out there somewhere. We saw no other folks on the trail, though we saw plenty of human tracks as well as bicycle tracks.

Rock outcroppings along the ridge.

Much of the trail is through open areas such as this.
View of the park headquarters from the trail.

Cactus growing out of a tree

This view of Lake Brownwood from the ridge may be the best view on the trail.

Although the trail along the ridge involves walking over rocks at times, most of the trail is simply a dirt path that's perfect for easy walking. It is well defined and well marked most of the time. However, after descending the ridge on our return loop, the trail momentarily joined a 2 wheel track coming off a nearby paved road. Just after the juncture, though, the foot path veers off to the right. There is no sign marking the foot trail, though, so we were a bit concerned for a moment, but about 100 feet down the trail, we encountered our next trail marker, assuring us we were on the right trail.

All in all, this is a pleasant little walk in the woods. It took us just over 1 hour to make the hike.

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