Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hiking with Grandson

Our daughter and her 3 sons came down for a visit. Oldest grandson Xander (age 14) is on spring break, so it was a good time for them to visit.

We always try to find ways to entertain the young 'uns when they are here. Since the weather was good, I thought it might be fun to take Xander on a short hike. Xander has hiked a little on Boy Scout outings, but I don't know what kind of hiker he is, so I decided to keep the hike relatively short.

We set out to the north section of San Angelo State Park. There are some dinosaur tracks there I've wanted to see. I checked the Trails Map available on the park's website, and found the coordinates provided there: 31° 31'51.37" N   100° 33'37.52" W. I thought Xander would enjoy seeing the tracks.

We parked at the parking lot at the end of the pavement in the North Concho Camping Area. The trailhead here is known as Bell's Trailhead. Our route would follow one similar to hikes Donna and I took in "Hike Report: The Big Hill" in February 2014 and "San Angelo SP: January 23, 2012".

Grandson Xander at the trailhead. It was 43 degrees when we started our hike, but soon warmed up nicely.
Just past the trailhead, we took the biking trail for the Dinosaur Trail. At San Angelo SP, there are often parallel trails for bikes and horses. There are times when the trails merge, but for the most part, the trails run parallel, often just a few feet apart. If you know anything about horses, then you will know why this is a good idea. On the day of our hike, we saw about 10 horses in the campground near where we parked. A lot of folks had come out during spring break to ride the trails at the park.

You can see the trail is clearly labelled for bikes. Bikes cannot ride on horse trails, and horses cannot ride on bike trails. However, hikers can opt for either trail.
Normally when hiking San Angelo SP, I opt for the horse trails, for I trust horses more than bikers, who come tearing around curves and over hills and almost always fail to follow trail etiquette. But I noticed that the horse trail was not as clear as the bike trail. With spring virtually here and snakes coming out of hibernation, I wanted a clear trail, especially since Xander was along. When Donna is along, I don't worry about snakes as much. I simply let her lead so if any snakes are out there, she'll be the target.

We reached the area where the dinosaur tracks should be. We spent close to half an hour hunting up and down the creek bank, but were unable to find the tracks. I guess I'll have to go out on a ranger tour some day to pinpoint the tracks.

The dinosaur tracks are somewhere up this creek bed. We hiked pretty far up the creek, but did not see them. More water is in the creek than normal, and that may have hidden them. Notice the trail on right.
We then followed the trail around to what is known as the Big Hill. It really isn't that big -- probably only 100 feet or so -- but it does stand out against the flat land surrounding it. In recent years, a commercial enterprise has built a large steel building atop the hill. There is also a large home (the owner of the business, perhaps) directly behind the business. Both of these take away greatly from the "wilderness" experience this hike used to have. They are located directly behind the large cross shown in  "San Angelo SP: January 23, 2012".

But while atop the hill, if you look in the opposite direction of the business, you still have some wonderful views of the North Concho River valley, O. C. Fisher Reservoir and dam, and the surrounding countryside. I was able to see numerous RVs in the park's camping area, distant ranches, and other sights.

View from atop the Big Hill. The tree line in distance is the North Concho River. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you might be able to see O. C. Fisher Reservoir in far right portion of picture.

We continued on the trail to the bottom of the hill, then took the North Scenic Loop Trail as it dipped along the river briefly. We then rejoined the main trail to head back to the truck. We also opted to take the Shady Trail, which winds through the trees along the river for a half mile or so.

While on the North Scenic Loop Trail, we noticed this paved low water crossing on the North Concho River. I don't know who put this in; perhaps the rancher who owned the land prior to the park. Perhaps there once was a public road that ran through here years and years ago.

The North Concho River just upstream of the low water crossing in the previous picture.
North Concho River along the Shady Trail, one of my favorite trail sections in the park. This picture is looking upstream.

This picture is taken from the exact spot as the one above. I have simply pivoted to look downstream. I always am amazed how a river can almost disappear.

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