Monday, October 17, 2016

Hike Report: Lost Creek Reservoir State Trailway


The Lost Creek Reservoir State Trailway is a linear trail about 9 or so miles long, depending on your source. One trail head is located in Fort Richardson State Park while the other is located off Highway 59 a few miles north of Jacksboro on the shores of Lake Jacksboro (the lake is also called Lost Creek Reservoir).
There are 3 maps which reference this trail. The park map is probably the best of the three for locating the trail head in the park, but once you leave the park it is of no help. The trails map is a contoured map that has some information about interesting spots along the trail. The multi-use/location map does the best job of showing the location of the trail in relation to highways and the city of Jacksboro.
Hike Stats:
  • Distance Hiked: 6.05 miles
  • Time: 02:13:17
  • Elevation Range: 909 ft. to 1048 ft.
Donna and I decided to start at the trailhead in the park and hike 3 miles out and then back for a total distance of 6 miles. The trail is about 10 feet wide, mostly on a gravel base. During our hike, we encountered two paved sections: one by the city swimming pool and a second up a long slope just to the south of the old airstrip.
Trail Head in Ft. Richardson State Park. This is how most of the trail looks except for the paved sections mentioned in text.
For the 3-mile length of our hike, there were relatively few ups and downs. The exceptions would be once we crossed Lost Creek a second time at the southern tip of the lake. Just past this crossing were 2 small rises, reach offering some nice views of that portion of the lake.
The building on the left was the fort commissary, while the building on the right was the depot. The depot was built in 1898, about 20 years or so after the post closed.

View of the fort from the trail. Building on right is the post hospital, while the other buildings are barracks. Note wind turbines in distances.
The first mile or so was either in the park or along the border of the park. We then passed through a small residential area near the city pool that was a bit questionable. Once we passed under the highway bridge, we were not close to any other houses, though they were visible through the brush. The area under the bridge appears to be a favorite hangout, for there was quite a bit of garbage accumulated there.
Markers appear along the trail indicating points of historical interest, and there are quite a few, especially for the first mile or so. In the early days of Jacksboro’s development, this must have been the “industrial” section of the town, as the old depot is located across from the fort, as well as the remains of an old flour mill. Much of the rock used for the buildings in town was quarried from the area along the route, including from what is now called Quarry Lake behind the state park office.
These are the remains of an old flour mill. This area was Jacksboro's industrial section in the early 1900s, and included an electricity generating plant, a creamery, an ice house, a cotton gin, and a cotton seed mill, to name a few. The laundresses' quarters for old Fort Richardson were also located near here in an area called "Sudsville".

Supports for an old wagon bridge over Lost Creek. This is across from the city pool. The trail in this area is paved.

The old mixes with the new. This is the city pool, located next to where the modern highway crosses Lost Creek.
The first low-water crossing over Lost Creek.
This is the second -- and last -- low-water crossing over Lost Creek. The lake begins to sprawl downstream (left in picture). The area just a bit upstream (right) was popular with swimmers and with churches for baptisms. Just beyond this crossing there are 2 hills, the only real elevation changes we encountered on the trail.

The southern end of Lost Creek Reservoir (Lake Jacksboro)
We ended our hike at 3 miles out, near the north end of the old airstrip. During the course of our hike, we encountered only 6 people: 1 jogger, a man and woman out for a morning walk, and 2 young women pushing a little tyke in a stroller. We met all of these within a mile of the trailhead. We had originally considered walking the northern end of the trail, as I thought it might be more scenic as it wound its way around the lake and across the dam. However, I’m glad we didn’t. After our hike, we drove up to that trailhead to take a look and found the gate locked.

South end of the old air strip. Notice the lights.
I zoomed in for this shot of the airstrip, the lake, and the park area on the other side of the lake.
This tattered old wind sock more or less marked the end of our 3 miles out. Now we turn around and trudge back the same 3 miles. It always seems longer going back over trail you've been over before.

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