Urban Hiking- Lake Pflugerville, Pflugerville, Travis County, Texas

Probably the most urban hike I have done is Lake Pflugerville. Lake Pflugerville is treeless, surrounded by neighborhoods on three sides and a major road on the other. It is fully paved with concrete in the park and crushed gravel elsewhere. has no scenery, but it is three miles around the lake, so Quinn and I headed out one foggy morning to check it out.

Lake Pflugerville is a 180-acre reservoir built in 2005-2006 for the sole purpose of providing water to the city. Its only water source is a 16-mile pipeline from the Colorado River.

Of course, when pronouncing this name just forget the “P”, it’s silent. So Flugerville is correct.

Lake Pflugerville

As you can see by the houses in the background this is a very urban place. I think when first built the Lake was not so urban but the city has grown up around it. Lake Pflugerville did boast a lot of wildlife for being so surrounded by homes. So much so …. it’s story time!……

Upon arriving at the lake and being unfamiliar with the place, I parked the car at the first lot I came to on the major road…. more of a large pull-off that had a couple other cars sitting there. I hitched Quinn up to his harness and leash and we started down the hill. The area was a little swampy and Quinn was sniffing something. He jumped and raised his head…. a large crawdad had hooked him on the upper lip. When I say large, I mean like almost lobster sized… the largest crawdad I have ever seen. How he shook it off without getting cut I do not know but he did.

We began the three-mile hike. The trail was crowded but there were so many cool waterfowl.

About halfway around we came to a small park with kayak rentals and a beach. There were also several picnic tables and a shelter.

Lake Pflugerville a once in a lifetime adventure. We checked it out and I’m good on it. Never to return.

Urban Hiking- Gilleland Creek Park, Pflugerville, Travis County, Texas

If you jump the back fence of our neighborhood, when you hit the ground you are in Travis County and the City of Pflugerville, Texas. Although the City of Pflugerville unwisely has paved their trails, they have some of the best in the area.

This trail runs right along Gilleland Creek. One way takes you to the waterfalls and Bohl’s Park, the other to fields of wildflowers in Pfluger Park, that bloom in the spring.

Gilleland Creek

Gilleland Creek is named for James Gilleland. Gilleland was a self taught Methodist lay minister who moved to Texas from Arkansas in 1828. Although he didn’t participate in the Texas Revolution Gilleland spent time in the Army of the Texas Republic in 1836 fighting Indians. He settled in Bastrop County where he was awarded a league of land for his service. He picked the area near where the headwaters of Gilleland Creek rise.

Gilleland Creek runs 27 miles to the Colorado River. It is spring fed so it is always running.

1st waterfall on the Gilleland Creek trail

In 1835 Gilleland formed the first non-Catholic (Methodist) congregation in Stephen Austin’s colony in defiance of Mexican law. He preached in an old store building using a barrel as his pulpit. Gilleland was fatally wounded in the Battle of Brushy Creek against the Comanches. He was buried on his land.

second waterfall on Gilleland Creek

Depending on the direction you take Gilleland Creek offers a pretty nice hike for me, and a dog walk for Quincy as he loves the place. At the waterfalls and a couple other places along the trail it is easy for him to get into the water. The spot pictured above is his favorite swimming hole. Going through the wildflower fields and back gets you about three miles. Going past the waterfalls and back about two and a half miles. It is close to the house so we go there often.

Below are the wildflowers of Pfluger Park.

There was a day that babysitting the grandkids fell to me. Of course, I would take them hiking and we went to Gilleland Creek. They enjoyed the waterfalls and the large playground at the park which we visited after our hike.

Not exciting, but close to home and scenic along the creek, so we go often.

Beer and Black Beans…Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery State Historic Sites, LaGrange, Fayette County, Texas

Have you ever heard of the Mier Expedition or the Black Bean Incident?

This obscure piece of Texas history is not even known by a lot of Texans. After the Treaty of Velasco ended the Texas Revolution and created the Republic of Texas the dispute with Mexico continued. Seems there was a disagreement about which river the treaty meant, the Rio Grande as the Texans believed or the Nueces (new-aces) which Mexico claimed was right. So, the lands between the rivers were still being disputed in 1842.

At the 1842 battle of Salado a Texan militia under Nicholas Dawson was defeated or captured in what Texans considered the Dawson Massacre.

The Somervell Expedition was formed as a retaliatory raid into Mexico after these Mexican shenanigans against Texas. After a successful raid became hazardous, leader Alexander Somervell ordered his men back to San Antonio. but a group of disappointed Texans continued on against orders and the Mier Expedition was born.

The Mier Expedition of the 308 men set out to avenge The Dawson Massacre. In the Battle of Mier 243 Texans were taken as prisoners and marched towards Mexico City. 171 of these Texans escaped but were recaptured when they ran out of food and water in the Mexican desert. Santa Ana who had returned to power, ordered that they all be executed. Through diplomacy between the United States, Great Britain and Mexico it was decided that only 1 out of 10 would die. So to determine who the unlucky would be, they were forced to draw beans from a pot that contained only 17 black beans of the 171 beans in the pot. This is known today as the “Black Bean Incident”. The bodies of those seventeen who were executed were recovered during the Mexican American War and eventually brought to Monument Hill. Here a mass grave of the victims of the Dawson and Mier Massacres is located. Why here? Nicholas Dawson was from LaGrange.

This brings up the legend of Sam Walker a Texas Ranger. I know I know the TV show.

Sam Walker was an actual Texas Ranger, (no relation to Cordell Walker of the TV show), and was captured during the Mier expedition. While imprisoned at Perote Prison, Texas legend says the prisoners were forced to erect a flagpole. While doing this Sam Walker buried a Yankee coin at the base, swearing that one day the flag of the Lonestar Republic would fly over Perote. He also swore he would recover the coin. Walker finally escaped Perote and made his way back to Texas. Fast forward to 1847 and the start of the Mexican-American War.

Walker was commissioned as a captain in the U.S. Mounted Rifles. He was given the authority to recruit ,train and lead a Calvary Regiment. They reported to General Winfield Scott at Veracruz Mexico and began fighting their way inland to Perote. The legend then says that Walker retrieved his coin and hoisted the Texas Flag above Perote Prison as he promised. Walker was killed in a succeeding battle at Huamantla.

Why is this legend and not fact. Well Walker kept a journal. In it he is imprisoned at Tacubaya Prison in Mexico City. Here he was forced to build roads in a work gang and to add insult to injury the road being built was to Santa Ana’s private villa. Walker did escape from Tacubaya Prison after two years and found his way back to Texas. He did fight his way through Mexico with Winfield Scott and Perote Prison was sacked, the prisoners released and the prison was turned into an American fort.

Sam Walker went to New York and working with Samuel Colt helped develop a six shot gun.

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The Walker Colt Revolver was named after Sam Walker.

tomb of the 17 victims of the Black Bean Incident.

There wasn’t a lot of hiking at Monument Hill maybe a couple of miles. I started out first at the other historic site here, the Kreische Brewery. Heinrich Kreische was a German stonemason and brewer. His brewery became the third largest in Texas.

Although he bought the property in 1849 Kriesche didn’t begin the brewery until 1860. He built it in a ravine on his property so that he could use the natural flow of a spring there for his brewing process.

Ruins of the Heinrich Kreische Brewery
Kreische Brewery ruins

After viewing the Brewery ruins I headed up the Scenic Overlook Trail. This trail had switchbacks for a while but soon you had to just gut it out up an old road.

View towards LaGrange Texas
Colorado River at Monument Hill

Henrich Kreische had a wagon accident on the property in 1882 while driving from his home down the hill to the brewery. As you topped the hill on the switchbacks there was a sharp bend in the road. This was where the accident reportedly happened. As you gut your way up the steepest part of Monument Hill on the road you soon come to Heinrich Kreische’s home.

The death of Heinrich Kreische was a disaster to the property. He had purchased the area after the monument was established so he maintained the area and kept the vandals and thieves at bay. Without Kreische the brewery soon closed and the monument became increasingly vandalized. After various requests by the family to relocate the monument off the property the state condemned a little more than a quarter acre and took control of the site. In 1949 Texas built today’s Monument at the site. The remains of the Brewery and Kreische property were added in 1977.

Home of Heinrich Kreische

Continuing past the house the trail tops Monument Hill at a tall monument.

Monument to those who gave their lives in the Dawson Massacre and the Black Bean Incident

Although the hike was short there was so much history of my new state learned on this adventure.

The Colorado river from the Oakville Escarpment

Guadalupe River State Park, Bulverde, Comal County, Texas

Guadalupe River

The Guadalupe River is among the top ten most endangered rivers in the country. The land for the park was deeded to the state in 1974. The park contains a total of 1938 acres so it is on the smaller side. There is about four miles of river frontage in the park and I will say it had one of the most beautiful picnic areas I have ever seen anywhere. It is a terraced area above the gravel beach across from the steep canyon wall on the opposite bank.

But I ain’t here to picnic or swim but to hike. Of course I parked at the furthest point I could from the river and to the river and back is the hike!

I started my hike on the Painted Bunting Trail to the Live Oak Trail. It was pretty easy hiking. At about two miles I reached the river.

the gravel beach

Of course swimming and tubing are the big activities at this park. I hiked up the river a bit and found these beautiful Cypress Trees along the bank.

This is the Canoe and Kayak recovery area for those Kayaking

The trail became a road so I turned back and visited the canyon.

Canyon area at Guadalupe River

Then I headed downstream to visit the Rapids of the Guadalupe. This is one of the places marked on the map as a “must see” or area of interest.

Rapids of the Guadalupe
Rapids of the Guadalupe

Let’s say the rapids were a bit disappointing. I thought I might see a class two or three rapids but these would probably not classify as a class 1.

the beautiful picnic area

I returned to the car via the Barred Owl Trail which took me to the only overlook in the park.

Approaching the overlook at Guadalupe River
view from the overlook
View from the overlook

Again a bit disappointing because I figured I’d see a nice view of the river. Not a real exciting hike but another Texas State Park off the list. I will return because this is only half the park. Across the river is what is known as the Bauer Unit and much more hiking.

Guadalupe River

Technicolor Sunrises- Enchanted Rock State Natural Area -Fredericksburg, Gillespie County, Texas- The First Trip

Enchanted Rock

We moved to Texas to be near the Grandkids. My step-daughter who has the kids, knowing I was an avid hiker bought me a book; Sixty Hikes within Sixty Miles of Austin. I have by the way, done many of those hikes. But one that fascinated me was Enchanted Rock. Well over his sixty mile limit, the author included it for it’s uniqueness. Many of my new Texas friends also mentioned Enchanted Rock.

Enchanted Rock is an 1825Ft Monadnock rising 450 feet above it’s surroundings. It is the largest pink Monadnock in the U.S. I was a little disappointed in the color as I didn’t really see pink all that much. It’s more grey to me. Anyway I’ll give it a go.

Enchanted Rock from Little Rock (1740Ft) across Echo Canyon

When I got there this first time about 9:00 am there was already a steady stream of individuals heading up the trail to the summit of Enchanted Rock. So, I headed for Little Rock (1740FT) to see if I could get up from that direction.

Little Rock

Little Rock was pretty fascinating. It had huge granite blocks at it’s summit or maybe as it’s summit.

Huge Granite blocks on Little Rock

As I headed for Enchanted Rock across the granite of Little Rock I was soon stopped in my tracks. There is the rather deep Echo Canyon between them. Although I got into Echo Canyon after crossing a small creek, there was no way up Enchanted Rock without climbing gear, you know like ropes and stuff. I don’t do that so I turned left on the Echo Canyon Trail and headed for the Loop Trail. The Loop Trail is a 4.5 mile excursion around the perimeter of the State Natural Area and to me one of the more scenic trails.

Looking across Echo Canyon
Along the Echo Canyon Trail

Echo Canyon took me to Moss Lake and one of the parks primitive campgrounds. It appeared to be very nice and very primitive.

Moss Lake
Enchanted Rock (right) and Little Rock from the Loop Trail

At the trail junction I turned right on the Loop Trail. This is a wide crushed granite trail. When I say crushed granite I mean like almost sand and it has a pinkish hue. I took this trail to the Turkey Pass Trail between Enchanted Rock and Freshman Mountain. I wanted to do more of the loop but it was closed due to heavy recent rains that I understand flood that section.

Turkey Peak (1640FT)

Turkey Pass was the toughest trail of the day. It was extremely rocky and was up to this point the greatest elevation gain. At the end of the trail I had to wade across Sandy Creek to the campgrounds as it had flooded the trail in that area also. I walked through the campground and up the Frontside Trail to the main trailhead and started my ascent of Enchanted Rock. Now the ascent is only 450 feet but next time I will do it first. It wasn’t much fun being on tired legs after hiking 5 or 6 miles. The views were outstanding.

bottom right side is Moss Lake

Next time I am coming earlier to catch a sunrise……………

Finding Fall in Texas, the First Year, Wimberley, Hays County, Texas

We are used to the change of seasons being from the mid-west. Even throughout our 20 some years in North Carolina we saw the seasons change, in particular, the leaves. We had been in Texas only a couple of months and when asking about fall we were told, “Go to Wimberley”, there are leaves out there. So we loaded up the Grandbabies and headed for Wimberley, and the Devil’s Backbone, a ridge in the Texas Hill Country. Here we were told we could see some color. What a disappointment!

Color? hell there aren’t even any trees! The Devil’s Backbone

The Devil’s Backbone wasn’t even all that impressive as a ridge. But all is not lost as Wimberley was one of those towns that cater to touristy types as we were this day. Although not large it contains some nice shops and restaurants.

We ate here at the Wimberley Cafe which was very good. We explored around town some.

The most interesting thing of the day was the picnic area/viewing point for the Devil’s Backbone. It is surrounded by a chain link fence. On that fence people put memorials to their loved ones who have passed on. Why? I dunno.

Notice the crosses and other things attached to the fence?

we found this old gas station at Driftwood Texas, which I didn’t even know existed. It is a census designated place that actually has a post office. And unbelievably they have a notable citizen. Up and coming NASCAR driver Bayley Currey hails from Driftwood Texas!.

Well Wimberley is a nice town but it isn’t where we are going to find any fall. We’ll try again next year……….

Gneiss Place, Inks Lake State Park-Burnet, Burnet County, Texas- Part 2-The Devil’s Waterhole

As previously Promised, the rest of Inks Lake………

One of the prettiest places to me in Central Texas is the Devil’s Waterhole at Inks Lake. Now it is a swimming hole which cruds it up when people are around but during the school months if you get there early all that is gone so you can get great pictures.

This is the geological area I spoke of in my previous post about this absolutely gorgeous park.

Valley Spring Creek enters Inks Lake

Valley Spring Creek enters the far end of Inks Lake. It enters through a rocky canyon known as the Devil’s Waterhole.

Down among the rocks
Looking across the waterfall

This feature is separate from the rest of the trails. To get there requires a drive through the cabins and campgrounds of the park to reach the trailhead. The first couple times here I didn’t do it because the ranger said the waterfall may or may not be flowing as it is very intermittent.

Valley Spring Creek Waterfall.

I went up to Inks Lake one week when we had had a lot of rain. I went to the Devil’s Waterhole and it turns out that Valley Spring Creek has a very nice waterfall.

The trail is easy at first but once past the big rock pictured above the trail gets rocky and climbs to the top of the canyon. From there it becomes a 2 mile nature trail which is a loop with a spur to the bird blind on the far side of the Devil’s Waterhole. The spur trail takes you across the waterfall and into the area where the good pictures are! Not much else to say so I just leave you with some photos of one of the prettiest places in central Texas.

lower falls.
Devil’s Waterhole during the dry season
The Devil’s Waterhole from the canyon rim

Love this Place……………………..

Urban Hiking, Hamilton Greenbelt and Hurst Hollow, Lakeway, Travis County, Texas

Another place I like in Lakeway is the Hamilton Greenbelt. You can do the greenbelt loop out to an overlook and back or at the overlook you can continue into Hurst Hollow. I chose the latter of course.

waterfall

Not far along the trail you come to a small unnamed waterfall. One of Quinn’s favorite splashing areas.

Playing in the water

Okay it’s story time. Quincy is very…no overly…. protective of his family and especially me. Quinn is half Shih Tzu and half Jack Russell Terrier, two breeds that are not known to back down from trouble. Although Hamilton Greenbelt is not an off leash area many people just do what the hell they want. Well it almost cost a guy his dog. We arrived one Sunday morning very early; only one other car in the lot. We started up the trail and here comes a large dog off leash headed right towards me. When he was in close (Quinn was on his leash) Quincy jumped at it and took it down…. he had clenched his jaws right on the dogs neck. The guy comes running up and said “Dude control your dog”! Excuse me I said “I believe your dog is the one off leash and out of control!~”. I got Quinn off it and we went on. I believe 10 lb Quincy could have done some damage to a 50 lb dog had I let him.

Past the small waterfall already pictured comes the highlight of the first part of this hike the pool and falls called Sailmaster after the street that runs near it. Sailmaster is a lush green area. Beautiful!

Sailmaster is another of the travertine falls so common to this area.

The pool at Sailmaster Falls
Sailmaster Falls
Sailmaster Falls

After spending a few minutes in this cool, beautiful area, we moved on. Next we got to the Hurst Hollow overlook.

Hurst Hollow from the overlook.

Most people loop back to the parking lot from here but we moved on into the hollow.

moving down into Hurst Hollow
Hurst Hollow

Unfortunately this trail abruptly ends at some private property. The trail does a loop through the hollow and then it’s back the same way you came although you can take the other side of the main loop so that it isn’t exactly the same path back in, except about the last half mile.

So if you see me and Quinn on the trail and you have a dog with you, keep him close, Quinn will take him down if it threatens his Papa!

Urban Hiking, Mt. Lakeway and the Canyonlands, Rough Hollow, Lakeway, Travis County, Texas

Anyone who likes to hike really needs to download the REI Hiking Project App. That is where I found this great trail system that I otherwise had never seen on some of the more popular apps. Lakeway is one of the westernmost suburbs of Austin Texas, on the shores of Lake Travis. Within Lakeway is a very affluent community known as “The Hills”, and within “The Hills” is the trailhead of Mt Lakeway and the Canyonlands.

Mt Lakeway is only 1180 Feet but starting near the shore of the lake the elevation gain is 781 feet. The trail is not too exciting as you are ascending in the woods about ten yards off a utility right of way.

Mt Lakeway

I took Quincy with me on this adventure. Of course as usual he drove me a little nuts. Getting him to the top was about like getting a 13 year old teenager to climb. As the hill steepened the trail had several switchbacks. At every loop he wanted to go back down the hill not up!

Urban hiking has it’s drawbacks when it comes to views

It is about 2 miles by trail to the summit of Mt. Lakeway and when you get there you are greeted by…….. a high voltage electric wire tower. However the views out over Lakeway are pretty neat.

We started this hike under the water tower
The view west north west was the best but as you can see by the road construction not for long

We descended and hiked through the canyonlands which were quite nice.

small water fall in the canyonlands area
Looking down into the canyon
Creek that flows to Rough Hollow

Don’t know the name of the creek or even if it has one. Now about that dog. When I take Quincy hiking with me I take him something to eat… he won’t eat it he wants part of my energy bars, …..and a metal bowl so we can share water. He won’t drink from the bowl but when we get to a creek he is all in!

Quinn playing in the creek

I really don’t like that situation especially when urban hiking….. you never know what the water quality is like. But I guess as long as it isn’t stagnant that’s better. I Dunno but I can’t deny him water.

I adopted Quinn about two years ago. He was a stray found in Nashville Tennessee. I don’t know how long he was on the streets but he seems to have excellent survival instincts, so I think maybe for quite some time he was homeless.

But he is a PROBLEM in these matters.

Anyway next trip over we did the trail out to Rough Hollow on Lake Travis.

I like hiking in Lakeway. They have had the good sense not to pave their trails although they are still considered greenbelts which I find are usually paved. The Rough Hollow Trail is not for the casual walker. Although I know there are houses within a quarter mile mile in most places this is a somewhat rugged trail

Rough Hollow Trail
Rough Hollow
Rough Hollow
Rough Hollow Trail
Rough Hollow Trail
I think we are lost. Is this Italy? No it’s Lakeway

After about two and a half miles you come to the end at Lake Travis. They say there is a beach here for swimming but I ain’t swimming in the cesspool of Lake Travis. Nope!

Rough Hollow Inlet
Rough Hollow Inlet

Nothing to do now but turn around and go back. Not a fan of the out and back hike but sometimes you just gotta.

Urban Hiking- Spicewood Valley Trail, Austin, Travis County, Texas

Descending into Spicewood Valley from the Trailhead

The Spicewood Valley Trail was constructed in 2005 by the United States Youth Conservation Corps. It took the corps 2 years to complete this 1.3 mile trail but because the trailhead is in the center you end up with a two and a half mile hike if you go both directions.

The United States Youth Conservation Corps is a US Forest Service program that employs teens 15 to 19 years of age with an interest in conservation and land management. They provide funds for projects such as building rehabilitation, trail building and maintenance, park and campground rehabilitation among many other things. Although, since 1982 they don’t fund local programs they will send teams to construct projects that cities, counties and states are willing to fund.

So this day finds me at Mountain View Park with the little augy doggy Quinn to check out this trail. On our descent down the stairs of course he goes into the edge of the woods and exits with the carcass of a dead armadillo that I have to wrestle away from him. Ah why do I bring him………… I sometimes wonder.

At the bottom of the hill we come to the creek where I find a place to wash the armadillo guts off my hands so we can get on with this hike. we start to the right. we soon get to a small dam on the creek

Creek along Spicewood Valley Trail
The dam

This is the longer part of the trail but was pretty uneventful. It was a walk through some small meadows ending at this…………..

yep a fire hydrant

There was also an ATT&T telephone shed. So we turned around back past the dam and started up the hill where there was a nice little cascade.

The trail levelled out along the canyon cliffs and it was a really nice area.

The Spicewood Valley Trail

not much farther and I began to hear water. Loud Water! And surprise a waterfall. This one had a total drop of around fifty feet!

The upper falls
The lower falls.

Unfortunately this is another one of the areas intermittent falls. I was just lucky to be there during a time that it was flowing.

Besides the cool waterfall what I liked about this trail was the solitude. Although starting from a city neighborhood I didn’t see another person until I got to the falls, and that was only one man with a stroller.