Saturday, April 29, 2017

Colorado Bend State Park

Colorado Bend State Park is about 100 miles northwest to Austin, and is known for its trails along creeks, canyons and Colorado river. Hiking, paddling and camping are the main activities. Caverns are another attraction, which we did not explore this time.

The campsites are primitive, no electricity, so the nights are dark, stars are bright. There is no cell signal. All these made us closer to the nature and wilderness.

We went there on April 16 with six other families for a one-night camping trip. Since we were in Austin the previous night, we got to the park relatively early in the morning and hiked more trails than the rest of the group. We hiked on Gorman Falls trail first in the morning by ourselves and before the rest of the group arrived, and then we hiked the Spice Wood Canyon trail and Spice Wood Spring trail - they together formed a loop,  in the afternoon. The next morning I ran along the river trail for 5 miles before everyone got up! Before we left the park, we hiked on overlook trail to have a look from 200 ft above the Colorado river to take in the whole Colorado bend.

Gorman Falls

The most popular trail at the park is Gorman Falls. trail, which is a 1,3 mile one way trail mostly flat, but rocky. There are typical Texas Hill country small tress, bushes and wild flowers along the way. The last 100 ft or so of the trail is very steep before reaching the fall viewing area. The trail end is densely wooded and water pours from top of the canyon at the fall, and rains down from near by areas constantly.

Spice Wood Canyon + Spice Wood Spring Trails

The trails at the park are typically one way trails. Studying the trail map, I picked this combination trail to form a loop. The trail head is at the south end of the camping/picnic area. We took the Spice Wood Canyon trail first and then turn to Spice wood spring trail near the 1 mile marker. The total length of the loop trail is about 3.7 miles.

The Spice Wood Canyon trail is on top of the Canyon and mostly wooded. The overlooks along the trail provided great views of Canyon and the creek at the bottom, which provides beautiful scenes and  much needed breaks from the more or less monotone trail.

It all changed when we turned onto the Spice wood spring trail. The trail cross back and forth from one side of the Spice Wood Spring to the other side. The scene along the trail changes constantly as well, from peacefully running creek, to water falls, to emerald green ponds. We tip toed on rocks to cross the creek so many time, in one stretch we decided to take off our hiking boots and waded in the creek, and a few boys in the group tried to catch transparent fishes in the creek. We stopped a lot to take in the surroundings through our eyes and ears, and through our cameras.

Overlook trail

We hiked on the Overlook trail on the way leaving the park. The first portion of the Overlook trail overlaps with the Gorman Falls trails, they divert from each other at about 0.5 mile marker. The trail is about 1.25 miles long one way, and the end of the trail is the Rusty;s Roost View Deck, 200 ft about Colorado river. We had a commanding view of the whole Colorado rive at the bend -looking east  - the Gorman Fall was clearly in sight among the dense green.

West portion of the Colorado Bend

The easy portion of the bend, the white ribbon in the green is the Gorman Fall

Colorado River

The bank of the Colorado river changes dramatically from section to the other. It has hundred foot high cliffs on both side of the river at one stretch, and flat land all the way to the edge of the water. There are camp sites in the latter stretch. There is a pretty flat River trail along the river from the campsite to the Gorman Fall - which can be a 10k round trip for a good morning run! I turned around on my morning run at the park due to time constraint, I ran 8K (5 miles) that morning.

A deer was altered as I ran by

Note: It was a wonderful trip and all of us thoroughly enjoyed the Spice Wood Canyon+ Spice Wood Spring trail. The only regret was that we did not paddle on the Colorado river due to weather (first day) and time constraint (2nd day).

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