Saturday, December 26, 2009

Nice Place to Run: Chalk Ridge Falls

If you're ever in the area of Stillhouse Hollow Lake, just a few miles west of I-35 between Belton and Salado, drop in for a visit to Chalk Ridge Falls.  Pretty trails, cool cliffs (as the park's name suggests), and lovely falls make this worth the trip.

My brother Mark and I had never been there, but were looking for trails to run on near our mom's house in Salado (8 miles away).  The trails were nice, as promised by various web sites, but we learned the importance of getting up-to-date reports.  The first half mile of the trail took us to the falls.  I had never heard of the falls, but Mark said he saw a picture of it in a waterfalls of Texas calendar. 

However, to continue past the falls, the trails are accessible via a suspension bridge that was washed out in 2007.  I guess repairing it is not a huge priority to the Corps of Engineers.  We wandered around some deer trails for a while, then crossed a small dam upstream from the falls, and found our way to the far side of the crippled bridge.

From here, we continued our run as best we could.  Two years of limited accesibility have taken their toll on the trail.  We frequently lost the trail, and got our legs scratched up pretty good from the brambles and branches growing over what's left of the trail.  We finally reached a point where the river was on the left, and on the right was a stream that was too wide to jump over, so we assumed that was the end of the trail and the park land.  In case you're interested, the total distance from the parking area to the end of the trail was about 2.5 miles.

Since we arrived before the park officially opened, we parked on the other side of the dam and started our run by running across the dam.  Looking down the slope from the top of the dam, I challenged Mark to a race up the dam at the end of our run.  Big mistake.  Heading back to the car, he reminded me of the challenge and took off.  I kept up with him for about 10 feet, maybe.  I think he made it to the top before I was halfway up.  Made me feel like a slug.  But when I told my 10-year-old son, Elliot, about my shame, he said, "Yeah, but Uncle Mark has never run 50 miles!"  So there!

So we didn't get a great trail run in, with all the bushwacking and backtracking, but we enjoyed exploring this little park.  It would definitely be worth revisiting.  Next time we'll bring the kids along.

Sunrise from the dam, with a heavy fog in the river valley.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Paul,
    I do have a pair of Treks and they are, I think, the best of the VFF line. And you're right, it will be very difficult to find any. Try All of the VFF's rock on the trails, you just have to be careful of the rocks and other technical debris. I admire you for running long in them, it takes time to work up to that. I prefer to use them for training and strengthening and then run races in a very minimal trail shoe. Do you Facebook? It would be easy to chat it up on there. Peace!