Wednesday April 3 Through Wednesday April 10, 2019
Arriving at the Cleburne State Park ranger station was a surprise. At 1:00 in the afternoon, we were the fourth RV blocking the entrance waiting to get checked in.
The assigned back-in site was one of the few sites where the lake was accessible and clearly visible. The site also felt private and had a good place to setup the gazebo and portable dog fences. However, leveling was a huge problem. The paved parking spot went down toward the water. Backing in required lifting the back tires up on leveling blocks. On the first try, forty blocks weren’t enough to get the bubble anywhere near the circle. Linda suggested turning the truck around and putting the leveling blocks under the front tires. Brilliant.
Four courses of blocks (4 inches of lift) got the bubble to just barely touch the circle on the bubble level. Level enough for the refrigerator to work. There is no way a longer truck or motorhome could be leveled in this spot.
Many of the spots in this campground are unlevel a little side to side and most are unlevel front to back. Trailers, with some fiddling, can quickly be leveled by experienced RVers.
The sites in Poplar Point Camp Loop, where this site is, all have water, sewer and 50 Amp electric. North Creek Camp Loop is another water, sewer and electric loop. Most of the sites in that loop are considerably easier to level in. North Creek was the loop we stayed in twelve years ago.
Arrival day was cloudy and hot. The kind of weather that could spawn thunderstorms. The forecast predicted severe thunderstorms overnight. The only choice was to delay setting up camp for our seven night stay.
No storm overnight. No harm being cautious. Thursday morning, after setting up camp, we drove into Cleburne for groceries.
In the afternoon, we hung out in our campsite enjoying the gentle breezes coming in across the lake.
This is one of the few campsites with a lake view. All sites in this camping loop could potentially have a view if the brush and reeds were removed along the lake’s edge.
Friday morning was cool and clear. At sunrise, the lake view from another campsite was a gift from the creator. After breakfast, we took the dogs with us to Dinosaur Valley State Park for a day trip. Following Apple Maps instructions, we turned right (away from Cleburne) outside the park onto FM-1434.
Around the corner Texas Lime Company provided the answer to a question. Every evening as everything was quieting down, we heard the unmistakable background rumble of an active quarry and cement factory.
Returning from the day trip, a quick check of Google Earth showed the size of the quarry operation relative to the park.
After this exercise, every time there was a southerly view, day or night, I would see the tall part of the cement factory sticking up.
Thunderstorms rolled through the park off and on all day Saturday. We stayed in camp and watched the neighbors in tents cope with the weather. To their credit, they kept dry, kept the kids entertained and came out to play between the rain squalls.
The Saturday forecast for Sunday predicted more thunderstorms. However, thunderstorms and rain were pulled out of the Sunday forecast early Sunday morning. Skies were overcast and it was still a bit cool after lunch when I left camp to walk the Coyote Run Nature Trail from the Coyote Run Day Use Area all the way to its end and the beginning of the Spillway Trail. Once on the Spillway Trail, I continued to its end as well.
Initially, the Coyote Run Trail heads north toward the park boundary. Near the park boundary, there is a fork. The right fork goes northeasterly until hitting a ninety degree turn. The park boundary turns southeasterly for a bit. The it turns southwesterly for a bit before making another ninety degree turn southeasterly.
Always following the park boundary.
During the daily 6:00 AM dog walk, I would always hear one or more dogs barking. Sometimes I would hear barking in the middle of the night. A few nights I heard dogs barking and coyote cries. Now I know where the dogs are. They must be sleeping during the day. No dogs were seen on the other side of the park boundary fence.
Parts of the trail, like the part shown above, would be treacherous in the rain. The rocks are definitely slippery when wet.
There were a number of handmade no trespassing signs posted on other side of the park boundary fence. I was saddened that park visitors would be so disrespectful of private property to make such signs necessary.
Coyote Run Nature Trail – Park Boundary SignThe neighboring property had amazing wildflower displays that might have tempted trespassers even though the property boundaries are clearly marked. This last segment of the Coyote Run Trail went for eight tenths of a mile before a turnout to an overrated scenic overlook.
However, the wildflower displays in the park, while perhaps not as plentiful, were every bit as colorful and fantastic looking. This wildlife display was found at the trail segment leading toward the overrated scenic overlook at the end of Coyote Run Nature Trail.
It has been years since Texas has had such a good wildflower year. The last one I remember was 1994.
Cedar Lake Dam Spillway Seen From Scenic Overlook On The Spillway TrailThe Spillway Trail begins where the Coyote Run Nature Trail takes a hard right turn towards the overrated scenic overlook. The Spillway Trail Scenic Overlook area proved rewarding as shown in the picture above. There are no guard rails but there are plenty opportunities to tumble off the cliff for the careless and foolhardy.
The purpose of three tiers to the spillway are not apparent. It is scenic and perhaps that is enough.
The spillway ends in a pool that feeds a Camp Creek.
The Spillway Trail crosses Camp Creek. The crossing isn’t elegant and when the creek is up, probably not safe. I did see a group of twenty somethings cross the creek. Some jumped across the creek. Others used the stepping stones as I did. One of the men that jumped looked like he was too close to not making it risking breaking a leg and/or some ugly bruising and scrapes. The women jumpers were much more capable and safe looking.
After not taking the correct turn to the left across the creek, I ended up in the parking lot for the White-tail Hollow Trail system.
Retracing my steps back to the Camp Creek Crossing, I explored a bit and discovered the trail actually followed the creek for fifty feet before turning right behind the underbrush. Ultimately, the trail crosses the park road and ends at a parking lot within a stones throw of the Camp Creek Bridge.
The scenic Camp Creek Bridge is a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) built stone bridge with wood bridge decking.
I’ve always found CCC built structures to be both durable and lasting from both a construction and aesthetic perspective. They are artful and durable.
At this point, I had been hiking for two hours. After texting Linda, she came and picked me up so that I wouldn’t have to walk back to camp.
Sunday evening, an unexpected line of thunderstorms passed through the area that were violent enough to break up the otherwise strong TV signal we had been enjoying in the evenings.
Monday morning we took a day trip to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. In the afternoon, we hung out in our campsite enjoying the sunny weather and gentle breezes.
Tuesday we went grocery shopping in Cleburne after having lunch at Whataburger, an iconic Texas hamburger chain headquartered in San Antonio. It was just dumb luck that my new Landsend polo shirt was the exact same shade of orange Whataburger uses. Pure Texas.
After dinner Monday evening, the dogs and I drove out to the southern end of the Spillway Trail which we took to get up to the White-tail Hollow Trail.
The White-tail Hollow Trail is thick with bluebonnets.
Reaching the top of Cedar Lake Dam, a lone kayaker could be seen moving across the lake. The dogs and I walked to the other side of the dam and back.
Walking back down the trail toward the parking lot, I saw a lone cyclist splashing through the stream.
Back in the Jeep, I drove back toward camp. Seeing motorboat out on the lake and a turnout to safely park in, I stopped and changed camera lenses.
After getting the pictures, I turned and saw the dogs in the Jeep waiting.
The dogs looked so happy and their happiness mirrored how I was feeling. Joy!
Wednesday morning, before packing up camp before moving on to our next stop, I caught dawn serenity over Cedar Lake from our campsite.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!