Wednesday, October 5, 2016

On the Road: San Angelo to Copper Breaks State Park (Texas)

Donna and I are all hooked up and on the road again. Today, we ventured up to Copper Breaks State Park, just south of Quanah, Texas. Here is the route we took.

San Angelo, Texas, to Copper Breaks State Park. Total distance: 213 miles.

For the first leg of the trip, we followed US 277 from San Angelo through Abilene to Stamford, where we then picked up Texas 6 for the remainder of the journey.

The journey up through Abilene was pretty basic for us as we have been on this highway quite a number of times over the years. It really is a pretty nice drive, but it is almost entirely 2-lane except for 2 or 3 passing lanes about 20 miles south of Abilene.

About 30 miles north of San Angelo and just a couple of miles south of Bronte, the highway crosses the Colorado River. This far west, it's hard to believe that the Colorado has enough water to fill all of those lakes downstream, such as O.H. Ivie Reservoir and the Highland Lakes (Buchanan, Inks, LBJ, and Travis), not to mention lakes upstream such as J. B. Thomas and E.V. Spence.

Several miles north of Bronte, just north of where Highway 70 splits off to the north from US 277, the recently restored Fort Chadbourne lies nestled along the east side of the highway. Donna and I visited that historic spot just a few years ago and were really impressed by how much had been done with no government aid whatsoever. Ah, the spirit of individualism. You can see my blog entry for our visit at http://ramblin-gamblin.blogspot.com/2014/08/day-trip-fort-chadbourne.html.

Along this stretch, there are a number of oak trees rather than the scrawny mesquite that have dominated the landscape so far. 

Not too far past the fort, the highway passes through one of the more scenic areas of the trip. There is a series of hills stretching from east to west in the area that the highway winds through. It's a very nice break from the typical West Texas flat, straight highway. These hills may be the westernmost section of the Callahan Divide, but I'm not certain of that. Just a short distance to the east is the historic village of Buffalo Gap, which got its name from the gap, or pass, in the divide through which buffalo passed. But that is another trip and another story.

And before you know it, Abilene looms ahead. We zipped around the west side of Abilene, then headed up through Anson to Stamford. This entire stretch of 277 is 4 lane and a very easy drive. On the north side of Stamford, we split off to the west on Texas 6, which runs south all the way to the Texas Coast near Galveston.

Jones County courthouse in Anson, Texas.

From Abilene on north to Copper Breaks, most of the land is devoted to farming except for land along the breaks and streambeds. The land is mostly flat and the roads tend to be straight. The towns are small, but spaced about 20 to 30 miles apart. It's a pleasant drive for the most part along a 2-lane highway, and traffic is very light.

Farmer working his fields along Highway 6 just west of Stamford

We crossed the Brazos River about halfway between Knox City and Benjamin. Like the Colorado this far west, there isn't much water in the river; it is mostly riverbed.


Old and new bridges across the Brazos River.

Marker concerning the old truss bridge over the Brazos.


The old truss bridge, built in 1938-39.

The muddy Brazos River

I was surprised when we dipped into a couple of canyons formed by the South and North Wichita Rivers, respectively. This far East of the Cap Rock, the canyons are really broad valleys.

Valley, or canyon, carved by the South Wichita River.

The entire drive took us about 5 hours, including a short lunch break at a roadside park just north of Knox City. We stopped once for gas at Abilene. For other travelers, there is  Walmart with gas pumps on the north side of Stamford where Highway 6 splits off to the west. Traffic from San Angelo to Abilene was heavy; next time, I'll go to Abilene via Ballinger and Winters.


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