Friday, April 24, 2015

Hike Report: A Mix of Trails at Lake Brownwood State Park

We were happy to be back in West Texas at Lake Brownwood State Park. This time, we stayed in site #83, which is in the trees. In fact, there was no room to let out our awning, but we didn't need it since the trees provided so much shade. A fire ring was at the edge of the trees, and we sat out one night with a cozy fire.

Site 83 at Lake Brownwood State Park
On our first morning there, we rose early for a hike. There aren't many trails at this park (see trail map), so I pieced together a route of 3 trails connected by paved park roads. Altogether, we probably hiked only 4 to 5 miles.

We began near our campsite in the Council Bluff Camping Loop. Just to the north of the camping area is the short -- .31 mile -- Council Loop Hiking Trail, which basically leads from the camping area to the fishing pier. The first part of the trail, though, provides some nice views of the lake, which appears to have more water than any other time when we've been there. I'll be glad when this long, long drought is over.

One of the views from the Council Bluff Hiking Trail.

Donna at the fishing pier. We camped here about 3 years ago, and the water line was farther out then.
From the fishing pier, we followed the paved park road past the Willow Point Campground and the Fisherman's Lodge to the main park road. From there, we followed the road due east to the Group Rec Hall.

Monument honoring the 36th Army Infantry Division in front of the Group Rec Hall.

At the Group Rec hall, I followed the steps leading towards the roof, where I enjoyed some good views of the surrounding area. You can see the steps to the right of the large window in the picture above.

I kind of felt like I was in a castle going up these steps of the Group Rec Hall.
It's a good view from the crow's nest at the top of the stairs.

After leaving the Group Rec Hall, we picked up the Lakeside Trail (.72 mile) to the northwest of that building. This by far was the most scenic portion of the hike.

Rest areas such as this are all along the Lakeside Trail. The CCC really was an industrious group of men, and they did such good work with native stone.
This is the CCC Grand Stairway, which leads down to the lake. It is quite impressive.

I walked to the bottom of the stairway and took this picture of Donna, who stayed at the top. She's a bit right of center.
Another CCC constructed rest area along the Lakeside Trail.
Unfortunately, the battery on my camera died at this point. Oh well, I guess I'll have to do this trail again to get some pictures.

The trail continued on high ground overlooking the lake. There are numerous ups and downs along this stretch. The trail comes close to several of the cabins at the park, and there are many rest areas near the cabins with fire pits. I'd love to have a fire at night in one of these locations overlooking the lake.

Eventually, the trail levels off and curves west. Keep your eye open and you'll see a wooden sign indicating that the trail goes in the direction you just came from. The sign is intended for folks walking in the opposite direction, but it is your signal to turn sharply left and follow the rock steps down, where you will soon find yourself on another paved road near some shelters. If you miss the sign, you will probably continue walking on what looks like the trail and you'll eventually have to back track.

We then followed the paved road past the screened shelters and up a good hill to the main park road, where we headed west for perhaps a quarter mile. We then found ourselves at the trail head for the Nopales Ridge Trail, which we hiked on our last trip to the park (see "Hike Report: Nopales Ridge Hiking Trail, Lake Brownwood State Park"). This time, though, we only walked about a mile of the 2.89 mile trail. We started in a counter-clockwise direction. When we neared the park headquarters, we exited and returned to our campsite via the park road.

It was an enjoyable hike. The weather was ideal and the views were really good, especially along the Lakeside Trail. All trails were in good shape.

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