I woke up cursing the bane of my hiking existence, poison ivy, yes I am afflicted with this torment even in the Winter, as a matter of fact I think I have poison ivy about 95% of the year. It drives me absolutely batshit crazy but I have come to accept it, I am almost used to having it constantly, if I find that I have no poison ivy spots I feel almost sad as if I have no badge of honor proving how much I truly love the woods even though it tortures me, yes I know there must be some underlying issue there. In an attempt to forget the constant itching hovering around my ankles we fueled up the Mini, packed some sandwiches and headed northwest on 180 to a fantastic State park in Mineral Wells, Texas. Aleu was bouncing around the backseat the whole way there, I swear she absolutely knows the difference from a car ride to the park and a car ride to the veterinarians office, her countenance is entirely different, the vet office rides usually consist of her trying to curl up small enough to pretend she is invisible.
Aleu and I love this place because there is so much to do here with a lake, a rock climbing area, a park store that rents kayaks and of course plenty of beautiful hiking trails. Who wouldn’t love a place with a scenic lookout area called Penitentiary Hollow! The lake is truly beautiful and I have been told the fishing is good too. I recommend the backcountry trails for the views, they are pretty rocky and a little challenging, which I enjoy. The trails are well marked and well maintained. The Trailway trails are wide and flat and are very enjoyable for biking or horseback riding but I feel the Cross Timbers trails are more scenic for hiking.
My only complaint about this place is they decide to close the trails too often in my opinion. It seems if the Park Rangers even smell rain they close the trails, a stray cloud and they tremble and scramble to close the trail gates. Not that these gates are impenetrable………I did learn a valuable lesson about the risk in circumventing these gates, occasionally they do have good reason to close the trails. The park managers wife caught me returning from a “closed” trail and told me the reason it was closed today was because it was supposed to be very muddy, I informed her that it wasn’t, she then informed me that it would be closed again tomorrow for another reason. I stood there waiting to hear about trail maintenance or the like and instead she gave me a reason that made me snap to attention, the junior hunters would be there thinning out the deer population. Note to self, ask the park rangers why the trails are closed from now on before jumping the gate. By the way she was very nice and told me very sincerely to be careful and have a great day, thank you ma’am for being kind to me and giving me some good advice.
This place is definitely worth the trip, the views are amazing and the Park Rangers are very nice. From now on I will call or check their website for trail closures before heading out. Get out there and get some poison ivy people!