Hill Country State Natural Area

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Kelly on Saturday’s hike. Photo by Judy.

Destination: Hill Country State Natural Area

Date: February 8 & 9, 2014

Travel Time from Austin: 2 hours 30 minutes

Participants: Bettina, Kelly, Judy, Maria, Sheila, Suzanne

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Scenic overlook on Saturday hike. (L-R) Kelly, Suzanne, Judy, Bettina, Sheila. Photo by Maria.

Campsite: Walk-in Campsite Area (Chaquita Falls) #125, 126. We felt like we had the place to ourselves, it was worth the walk-in!

Saturday Hike: Maybe 5 miles (see map below) It was beautiful and rugged with lots of loose rock on some parts of the trail. Very West Texas without the drive to Big Bend.

Sunday Hike: This trail  takes off from the campsite and is scenic but not as dramatic as the Saturday hike. We hiked about 3.5 miles.

Here’s a link to the park’s map. Below is a detail of the map with our hikes highlighted:

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Bird of the Trip: We woke up to the sounds of Wild Turkeys! They really do say “gobble-gobble”!

Camp Food: Bettina brought Tortilla Soup from Whole Foods. It was delicious and put some spice in a chilly night! Kelly made a very tasty Kale Salad.

Photos:

See more photos from the Hill Country State Natural Area here.

Pedernales Falls State Park

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Sunday hike along Trammell’s Crossing Trail. (L-R)Judy, Bettina, Maria. Photo by Suzanne.

 

Destination: Pedernales Falls State Park

Date: January 25 & 26, 2014

Travel Time from Austin: 50 minutes

Participants: Bettina, Judy, Maria, Suzanne

Campsite: We stayed in site #56. Sites 31, 33, 34 & 36 looked to be some of the best in the park but they were taken when we arrived. We had reservations but you can’t reserve a specific site. We are finding out that if you want to camp anywhere in central Texas, reservations are a good idea!

Saturday Hike: Wolf Mountain Trail, 6 miles. The trailhead is not far from the park headquarters. This is the only trail that the park describes as challenging but it was about the same or maybe even easier than the Trammell’s Crossing loop we hiked Sunday.

Sunday Hike: Trammell’s Crossing Trail, 6 miles. Trailhead is between campsites 33 & 34. Watch out, we had to cross the river and it was freezing and slippery! A great hike! If I only had time for one of these two trails, I’d choose the Trammell’s Crossing Trail.

Here’s a link to the Trails Map and the Park Map. Below is a detail of the Trails Map with our hikes highlighted.

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Bird of the Trip: Ladderback-backed Woodpecker – we visited the Bird Blind and I highly recommend it! I’m so glad we have our birding expert Suzanne in the group, I would have probably never thought of visiting the bird blind without her suggesting it.

Camp Food: Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This soup was seriously good and perfect for a cold night under the stars. Thank you Bettina, your home-grown broccoli was delicious!

Equipment highlights: We were impressed with the performance of my new Baja Burner stove by snow peak. We also loved our new lightweight chairs – Maria has the REI Flex Lite Chair and I have the Alite Designs Mantis Chair. They were great for sitting by the fire! Bettina and Suzanne  spend their first nights in their new backpacking tents by Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 and gave them a thumbs up.

McKinney Roughs Nature Park

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Giant Pecan Tree on the day hike at McKinney Roughs Nature Park. Suzanne, Judy, Bettina, Kelly. Photo by Maria.

Destination: McKinney Roughs Nature Park

Date: December 8th

Travel Time from Austin: 30 minutes

Participants: Bettina, Kelly, Judy, Maria, Suzanne

Bird of the Trip: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! Because it’s such a great name. And we saw lots of them!

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Enjoying Lebkuchen cookies by Bettina. Pictured: Suzanne, Kelly, Bettina, Maria, photo by Judy.
Camp Food: Bettina made German cookies called Lebkuchen (german for delicious I’m guessing) here is the recipe:
8 eggs
1/2 pound sugar
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Ginger
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Allspice
(if you want to – add fresh grated ginger)
1 pound  ground almonds
1/4 pound currants
1/4 pound sultana raisins (yellow raisins)
Mix first six ingredients, slowly add ground nuts, currants and sultanas. Greased aluminum foil on cookie sheet, put mixture on it and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees.
When cooled down, put icing on it (powdered sugar and lemon juice) and cut in squares.

Hike: This month we had so much going on for the holidays and snow (yikes!) was expected for the weekend we were planning to go camping that we just decided to go for a day hike. McKinney Roughs is a great destination for a day hike being only 30 minutes away from Austin and having around 18  miles of hiking trails. It’s a day use park and the main entrance is closed on Sunday (the day of our hike) but you can drive to the Highway 71 trail head, east of the Main entrance and start at the Whitetail trail. We hiked for about 5 hours with a break for lunch at the Giant Pecan Tree. I’ve highlighted our hike on the map below. Here’s a link to a PDF of the map.

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Photos:

See more photos from the McKinney Roughs Nature Park here.

 

Lost Maples State Natural Area

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Lost Maples Primitive campsite E on our Sunday hike – Maria, Suzanne, Bettina, Judy. Photo by Kelly.

Destination: Lost Maples State Natural Area

Date: September 14 and 15th

Travel Time from Austin: 2.45 hours

Participants: Bettina, Kelly, Judy, Maria, Suzanne

Saturday Hike: Backpacked from the parking area at the East Trail trailhead to B primitive camping area. About a 3 mile hike with a steep climb to the camping area after passing the pond.

Sunday Hike: Hiked from B primitive camping area to the parking area at the trialhead of the East trail put our packs in the car and hiked the West Trail to the G primitive camping area and back to parking area at the East Trailhead parking area. Maybe 5 miles.

Bird of the Trip: Black-throated Green Warbler They’re such pretty birds and they’re migrants so it was passing through on its way from the northeast to central/south America for the winter.

Campsite: B primitive camping area

Camp Food: Incredible Pulled Pork Tacos by Kelly, Parmesan Cheese Crisp from Whole Foods by Suzanne. A few varieties of apples with honey crisp apples being the tastiest. Beer to go with the pulled pork was Hops & Grains Zoe Pale Lager. We wrapped each chilled beer in newspaper and then packed them in an insulated lunch bag. They stayed cold for over six hours. Yay! The breakfast from Suzanne: Natural High Strawberry Granola with Milk was really good.

Below I’ve highlighted our hikes on the park map:

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Photos:

See more photos from Lost Maples State Natural Area here.

Lake Somerville State Park & Trailway

Destination: Lake Somerville State Park & Trailway

Date: June 1 and 2nd, 2013

Travel Time from Austin: 1.45 hours

Participants: Bettina, Kelly, Judy, Maria, Suzanne

Saturday Hike: Started on Lake Somerville Trailway from Nails Creek Unit hiked towards Flag Pond – out and back for about a 6 mile hike.

Sunday Hike: It started raining early Sunday morning so we didn’t hike on Sunday.

Notable Wildlife Sightings: many Roseate Spoonbills, American White Pelican (thank you Suzanne for identifying!) and many other birds that Suzanne will have to add to the list. A fawn, a raccoon eating a hamburger, spiders, scorpions and black beetles.

Campsite: 50 at Nails Creek Unit, the best campsite in the park!

Camp Lunch: Quiche (Kelly)

Camp Dinner: Pasta, pesto and summer garden veggies (Bettina) and Couscous (Suzanne)

On the road back to Austin breakfast: Cafe 290

Gear to add to list: Mallet for driving tent stakes, rain jacket

Notes:

Photos:

 

Colorado Bend State Park

Destination: Colorado Bend State Park

Date: May 4 and 5th, 2013

Travel Time from Austin: 1.5 hours

Participants: Bettina, Kelly, Judy, Maria

Saturday Hike: River Trail, Gorman Falls Trail, Gorman Springs Trail, Old Gorman Road, Cedar Chopper Loop, Lemons Ridge Pass – 9.5 miles-ish

Sunday Hike: Spicewood Springs Trail – 3 miles-ish

Notable Wildlife Sightings: Rattlesnake!, Armadillo, Turkey, Fox, Deer

Campsite: 2 and 1, stayed in 2

Notes:

Photos:

Buescher State Park

Destination: Buescher State Park

Date: March 16th and 17th, 2013

Travel Time from Austin: 1 hour

Participants: Bettina, Kelly,  Maria

Saturday Hike: Main Trail and the Pine Gulch Loop – together 5.6 miles

Sunday: We brought our bikes and rode towards Bastrop State Park

Notable Wildlife Sightings: A big snake that was hanging out next to the lake  – Kelly nearly stepped on it.

Campsites: 57 and 58

Camp Lunch: all kinds of goodies

Camp Dinner: homemade lentil soup (Kelly)

 

Inks Lake State Park

Destination: Inks Lake State Park

Date: February 16 and 17, 2013

Travel Time from Austin: 1.15 hours

Participants: Bettina,  Judy, Maria

Saturday Hike:  Started at the trail head and did the medium loop – around 5-6 miles  http://www.austinexplorer.com/Locations/ShowLocation.aspx?LocationID=1411

Sunday Hike: Explored around the lake

Notable Wildlife Sightings:  can’t remember . . .

Campsite:  Cabin 13  (Thanks Maria!!) – some slept in the cabin (it was freezing cold), some pitched a tent around the cabin (plenty of space)

Camp Lunch:  Mix and Match

Camp Dinner: Squash soup from a box (Whole Foods)

 Photos:

Russell Park at Lake Georgetown

Destination: Russel Park at Lake Georgetown

Date: February 19 and 20th, 2013

Travel Time from Austin: 50 minutes

Participants: Bettina,  Judy, Kelly, Maria

Saturday Hike:  Down to the lake and then north on the trailGood Waterloop of the San Gabriel River Trail at Lake Georgetown”. It is a 28 mile loop that goes all the way around the Lake Georgetown

Sunday Hike: Down to the lake and then south on the trail

Campsite:  15 (or 17?)  –  nice view of the lake

Camp Lunch:  Mix and Match

Camp Dinner: Tomato Soup

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