It was such a beautiful day and I had caught up with the repairs and changes to the ponds so I decided that it would be really nice to take a short walk at McKinney, my favorite place to hike. Checking to see that I had all of the necessary equipment including water and fruit, I pointed the car towards Bastrop and enjoyed a pleasant 45 minute drive to the Highway 71 Trailhead. There were a lot of horse trailers in the lot with several people riding their horses around the Trailhead which is pretty big. LCRA has really gone out of it’s way to accommodate horses and riders at this Trailhead with several paddocks, with running water and hoses to wash horses down. There were several riders sitting around and talking at the many tables dotted around this very large Trailhead which I thought was a little unusual.
I drove up to the gate that leads to the trails and found out why the horses were not on the trail. Apparently, some of the trails were closed to horses due to recent weather and the gate was locked. It was still open to hikers as we have a small side gate. I changed into my boots, strapped on my camera belt, grabbed my hiking poles and was off.
As I entered, a lady and her dog were coming towards me having finished their hike. We exchanged greeting as we passed which is the way of most hikers. I chose to hike the Pine Ridge trail which would keep me on high ground as even there, parts of the trail were still muddy from recent rains. I imagined that the lower trails by the river would probably still be really wet. The first part of Pine Ridge is in a burned area which according to a sign, burned for 3 days taking down all of the large trees so the area is pretty open. It is a wonderful mix of grass and shrubs and is the perfect place for masses of wildflowers. I spent 15 or minutes just taking pictures before heading off along the trail. There were many flowers along the trail especially the cactus which was in bloom everywhere I looked.
The Pine Ridge trail is made up of loose cobblestones and not the easiest to walk on. Parts of the trail were quite muddy and there were a lot of signs of wind damage with broken limbs and even uprooted trees. They must have had quite a storm. The pine trees were looking magnificent with lots of fresh pine needles and under them, many pine cones. Spring was everywhere with new growth and everything green. Even the birds were singing like crazy and I was able to spot a few which by itself is unusual as normally, I hear them but don’t see them. I walked past one of the ponds and was hoping to see a Heron but no luck. Even if they were fishing, it’s hard to walk quietly on the cobblestones and they would have been long gone by the time I reached them.
From Pine Ridge, I took the Foxtail and then WhiteTail trails back towards the parking lot. I never passed anyone on the trails and had the whole world to myself to enjoy. The sun was out and was gaining heat as we move towards the summer. As it was, I managed to work up a sweat even at my slow pace. When I arrived back at my car, there were two other cars parked alongside of me. All of the horse trailers had gone. I changed out of my boots and stowed all of my gear and sat down for a while just enjoying the day before heading back to Austin. I hiked about 4 1/2 miles which was a good distance for this day. I talked my car out of heading towards Bastrop for the customary Latte as it is programmed to do that, as I knew that I had to go grocery shopping and would buy the Latte later in the day.
Incidentally, there is a large building being constructed by the gate into the trails. I also noticed 4 different pole type structures getting erected just inside the park so I called back today to find out just what they were for. My own guess was that they were installing a Zip Line as another attraction to get more people interested in the Park. The lady that answered the phone introduced herself as Nicole and told me that it was exactly as I had surmised and that they were going to have a Zip Line that was open to the public. Interesting…
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