Hiking the Madrone Trail.
The weather had warmed up a bit and I decided that I needed to get out again. I have nearly covered most of the hikes at Pedernales River State Park, some more than once and have just a couple more to go. One, requires fording the river at Trammell’s Crossing which the Ranger told me is about a foot deep, enough to get wet feet. I have decided to put that one off until the very last and to make sure to bring extra socks with me. Another trail still open to me is the Twin Falls Nature Trail which is pretty short, less than a mile.
This time, I had decided that I would hike the Madrone Trail which is still within the park but is across the other side of the Pedernales Falls Road and has a parking lot of its own. I had to stop at the Park Headquarters to register and pay my $3.00 and while I was there asked the Ranger how I could turn the Madrone Trail into a loop instead of backtracking and covering the same ground twice or without getting onto one of the other trails that would also do the job but would add several miles to the hike. He suggested that I hike along the Utility Right of Way (R.O.W.) which although no short distance was still shorter than hitting the longer trails.
I went through my usual preparations boots, snacks, water and hiking poles and strapping on my camera belt, was ready to go. I decided to head East up the Madrone trail which is a really nice and easy trail to walk mainly through dense coverings of Juniper. A couple on bikes going in my direction stopped and asked where the trail led. They didn’t have a map with them so I was very happy to point out where they were and how they could get to the Wolf Mountain Parking Lot. After having hiked these trails three times in the past week, I knew all about the direction they needed to go. I didn’t tell them of the two times that I managed to get lost or they would not have had much confidence in my ability to give them directions.
They took off and I continued along the Madrone Trail until I reached the R.O.W. of which there are two. One, actually a double one, is the Gas Pipeline and the other carries the LCRA Electric Poles to the substation located on the Pedernales Falls Road. I turned and started walking in a westerly direction along the Gas Pipeline R.O.W. which I knew would eventually bring me out at Windmill Road and from there I had choices. The R.O.W. does not have well used trails but does have a sort of a road which the inspection vehicles use periodically. From the condition of the track, it had not been used for a while so the going was a bit rough in places. One more person passed me running in the opposite direction and we exchanged cheerful greeting to each other. I admired him for choosing this as his training ground as the going underfoot is tricky at times.
Walking along the broad swath of open space that was the R.O.W. reminded me of my younger days living in England. I worked for a pipe-line company and worked on such projects as this one. Looking at the vista left by the post pipe line installation brought back many memories of my times working on pipeline construction. I spent several years of my life travelling the country to where the next big project would be, staying until it’s completion or until my company moved me to a different project. They were among the happiest years of my entire working life not only for the type of work and the surreal aspect of heavy machinery, bulldozers, backhoes, cranes all looking like giant Tinker Toys but also working out in the open along with men who also enjoyed the same aspects of Mother Nature and of the hard work that was involved. I was the fittest and most muscular that I ever was for my entire life. The fact that I was only 21 when I started also helped a lot. Those were the days and I remember them like they happened yesterday instead of more than 60 years ago.
I shook myself out of my reverie as I made it safely to Windmill Road which also leads to the Equestrian Camping Area. I could have taken it but it would have brought me short of the far end of the Madrone Trail. I noticed that the horses had made a much better and more defined trail continuing along the R.O.W. I decided that I would follow that as from the map, it looked like it intersected a part of the Juniper Ridge trail which I happened to know also connected back to the Madrone Trail, exactly where I wanted to go. It was nice to get off the R.O.W. and back onto regular trails. For starters, the regular trails are well used and fairly smooth in comparison to the R.O.W. and also the Junipers give some protection from the sun which was beginning to get warm.
I reached the intersection where the Juniper Ridge trail met up with the Madrone Trail and at the same time, another pair of cyclists pulled up wondering which way to go. They had a map and we discussed where they were heading and I pointed them in the right direction. It turns out that they too had gotten lost at exactly the same place as I had previously. We both joked about it and blamed the Park for not having better signage on the trails. I didn’t mention that it took me until 9:00 pm to get out of the park and that a part of my trail walking was done using a flashlight as I didn’t want to appear that incompetent.
I took off along Madrone as they headed back along the Juniper Ridge trail. I kept walking and came to where I had to cross the Pedernales Falls Road to finish the last bit of my hike along the Madrone Trail. This trail is a very easy trail to hike and I highly recommend it to those not wanting to walk a great distance or with much difficulty. I would not recommend that the casual hiker follow the R.O.W. trails as I did today and instead, the return loop to the parking lot could be by using the Pedernales Falls Road.
When I walked back into the parking lot to my car, there were 4-5 more vehicles there than when I left. I wanted to see where the Twin Falls Nature Trail was so after changing into my shoes and eating some fruit and relaxing for a bit, I took a drive back inside the park to where the travel campers turn off. There were a lot of them in the spaces plus several tents in others. I found the turn off for the Twin Falls Nature Trail and also another one for Warfie’s trail, a short one that connects two of the roads.
I plan on exploring both of these trails next week and maybe at the same time, I’ll brave getting wet feet and hike Trammell’s Crossing Trail. As usual, the camera was busy on this 8.5 mile hike that I covered today although the problem that I have found with taking so many pictures is that the trails all look very much alike at this time of the year as there is not a lot of greenery to add much color.
If you click on any picture, it will make it full size and you can use the side arrows to move through them. Use the “Escape” button to get back.