To kick off our summer break, John and I made a quick getaway to Menard last weekend. On two of our three mornings there, we woke up to the sound of gently falling rain on the roof and the smell of a warm, made-by-someone-other-than-me breakfast emanating from the kitchen. We stayed in our pajamas past 10 AM on those days. It was heavenly.
We did not spend our entire weekend being lazy, however. On Saturday morning, we dressed in our hiking best, packed a lunch, grabbed the sunscreen and bug spray, and drove 1.5 hours to Inks Lake State Park. Neither of us had been to this particular state park before, but with our recently-acquired Texas State Parks Pass, we were eager to check it out.
We parked near Headquarters and headed down the Green Trail (pictured above), which skirts the lake. Immediately we encountered granite outcrops, a common landscape feature of the Texas Hill Country. The granite made the hike distinct from our DFW-area hikes of late, and it added a cool brownish-pinkish hue to the scenery around us.
The trail soon became rocky as we left the immediate vicinity of the lake and climbed up a nearby granite knob. A clearly defined path all but disappeared at this point; the way to stay on the trail was to watch for painted green spots on the rock below that marked the way. At the top, we were rewarded with views of the lake below and the surrounding hills.
We enjoyed the flora of the park, which primarily featured cacti, wildflowers, and grasses whose names I do not know (yet – it is only a matter of time before I buy myself a Texas plant guide).
Prickly pear cactus is one plant John and I always enjoy:
This cactus bloom provided a burst of bright color in an otherwise brown, green, and gray world:
After rounding the top of the granite knob, the scene below was the common one before us for the rest of the morning’s hike:
We had a bit of confusion about which way we were headed on the Green Trail, which makes a loop, but after briefly retracing our steps (having to twice avoid a small swarm of bees), we reached the Blue Trail, also known as the Woodland Trail. We never saw much in the way of woodland; tall grasses and shrubs were the most prevalent plant life to be seen. We hopped on the Red Trail, which would connect us to the Yellow, or Pecan Flats, trail, about which we were curious. John, especially, has a longstanding fondness for pecan trees. We did eventually come across a few pecan trees, but not many. Inks Lake would do well to keep with the color names for its trails!
At this point in the hike, we were getting hot and thirsty. The sun above we could do little about, and we had left our water bottles in the car. It was time to return to the trailhead. The Yellow Trail led us back to the Green Trail, and from there we reversed our steps. It was lunchtime!
After a picnic lunch in the Day Use area, we decided to cool off with a swim in the lake. One of the swimming areas was labeled Devil’s Waterhole, which just begged to be visited. We should have known it would be too crowded for our taste, however, based upon how far away from it we had to park and walk. Once we finally made our way to the swimming spot, it was indeed picturesque with granite rocks jutting high into the air on one side. Yet there were too many visitors there already, so we headed to the less-crowded swimming area between the fishing pier and boat ramp. The cool water felt wonderful after the morning hike and unexpected walk to and from Devil’s Waterhole, but the water was murky and we did not stay in long.
My favorite part of our time at Inks Lake was the morning hike, by far. I enjoyed the scenery a great deal, and the rigor of the hike was perfect – challenging but not too difficult. If you’re headed to the Hill Country for hiking, I absolutely recommend this state park!