A Short Walk at McKinney Roughs


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View of River from the top of Pine Ridge.

My friends Gloria and George along with dogs, Bobby and Nina all met at the Hwy 71 Trailway Entrance to take a short walk. There were probably another ten or so cars already in the lot. This is still winter in my part of Texas but the temperature was going up into the low 80’s and we all wanted to be out and making the most of the beautiful weather. For some reason, the park was still not open to horse traffic probably because of some ongoing repairs to the trails so we had to park at the first entrance and walk the extra distance to reach the trails. Not that it made that much difference as we were here to walk anyway.

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New Pine Ridge Entrance

The first thing we noticed was a new trail entrance leading to Pine Ridge including a newly mown trail. Previously, we had always hit Pine Ridge from Riverside or Bobcat Trail  from the reverse direction but for those who have not walked these trails before, the last part of the Pine Ridge Trail culminates in a series of steps going down into the gully, crossing a plank bridge and then climbing up a much longer set of steps to get out of the gully. It’s all perfectly safe as long as you are careful but it is very tiring. We decided that we would change our usual approach and with the new entrance, walk Pine Ridge by going down the steps at the beginning of the walk. We thought it would be less tiring doing it this way.

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These are the newly rebuilt steps.

We started off and safely negotiated the steps meeting other hikers who were on the way up. A couple of them were struggling with the climb and we didn’t help by assuring them that it was going to get worse as they neared the top. On our way up the other side, we could see that a part of the trail and steps had washed out and had been rebuilt by the Park employees. For the first time since we had been walking McKinney Roughs, the creek had a fair amount of water in it. We continued walking the Pine Ridge Trail as we were really playing it by ear so to speak as we had no definite trail planned. We hit the junction of Pine Ridge and Bobcat Ridge and as we also had the alternative trail of Riverside available to us, we had to choose which trail to take. We had already decided that the trails by the river were probably still too wet and muddy.

Bobbie, a rat terrier, usually does very well on these walks and is a bundle of energy but he must have been feeling out of sorts as he hung back and in fact lagged behind as we walked. This is so unlike his normal self that we decided to take the shorter of the trails just in case he was not feeling well. It might have been the sudden change of weather to 80 degrees as all of us were feeling the heat.

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Shady trails with Bobby on the left and Nina on the right.

We chose to walk Bobcat Ridge as this was quicker which eventually brought us back to Whitetail. This trail led us back to the parking lot. We passed several other hikers on the trail all out to enjoy the wonderful weather. We also passed other locations where new trail entranceways had been built and other visible signs of trail maintenance and rebuild. McKinney Roughs is so different than some of the other parks on the west side of town. The further west you go, the more prevalent are the Junipers until they become the dominant tree vegetation. When you go on the East side, there are far less Junipers and many more LIve Oaks and other hardwood trees. The change in scenery is very noticeable. As with all parks and trails at this time of the year, everything still has its winters brown with very little green although we did spot a little clump of flowers. I have no idea what it is called but it is really pretty.

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First signs of Spring?

Altogether we covered around 5 miles by my trusty pedometer but to everyone’s dismay, only managed to burn a little over 200 calories, not even enough for a piece of apple pie. It was a lot warmer than any of the recent hikes I have been on and is a sign of things to come. We discussed the fact that we have not yet had a single frost and that temperatures are warming up very quickly and we thought that probably, we are in for a real scorcher of a spring and summer. Global warming?

Gloria kidded me about driving into Bastrop for my usual Starbucks but I went anyway. Another very enjoyable walk with great friends.

As with all of these pictures, if you click on the first one, they become full size and you can use the side arrows to negotiate the slide show. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal.

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