A Hike at McKinney Roughs 4-20-2019


The very muddy Colorado River

Tired of sitting around indoors, I made a last minute decision that I wanted to take a hike. The next question was where did I want to go. After considerable thought, I decided that as I hadn’t been to McKinney Roughs in a while, that would be a good place. I texted my friend BJ to see if she was interested but she texted back that she already had plans.

I wasn’t about to let that stop me from enjoying the beautiful Spring day and after a short drive of about thirty miles, found myself in the parking lot at McKinney. I had recently bought a new backpack that I hadn’t yet had time to try out. I had already packed it with all of the relevant gear including the Tamron 160-600 long lens which, if I plan on using , usually carry already attached to a camera and on a waist harness. The carrying system that I have is from Cotton Carrier which enables me to carry two cameras and a pair of binoculars at the same time if I so choose. This lens adds considerably to the weight of the pack as it weighs in around 5.5 pounds when attached to the camera making it a very heavy addition. The new pack also had straps on the bottom allowing me to pack a lightweight tripod just in case I needed it. Altogether, the pack weighs in at around 25 pounds fully loaded so in many ways, this was going to be a test as to whether I could manage such a heavy load.

I stopped in at the office and paid my $5.00 and chatted to the lady behind the window and set off heading for the Riverside trail. Turns out that there was going to be a wedding and preparations were underway with the staff busy setting up tables outside and a band off to one side that was practicing and getting their sound systems just right. Another lady was preparing bouquets for each table and there was a general air of busyness.

Pictures of the trails at McKinney Roughs

I walked on Riverside heading out into the beautiful lush new spring growth that Nature provides us every year taking pictures as I went. I wasn’t really sure which trails I was going to take as I had no plan and was waiting to see what would guide me. On a whim, I turned off onto Valley View and followed it for a while and then took Bluff Trail Loop. This trail has a major overlook of the valley below with glimpses of the Colorado River. The river was extremely muddy colored as there had been a lot of rain very recently and was flowing quite strongly. I did not plan on walking down to the river on this particular walk guessing that the bottom trails would be very muddy and cut up.

Spring Flowers

I completed Bluff Trail Loop then headed back up Ridge to the Main Campus. I passed back alongside the wedding area taking care not to get too close as I didn’t want to interrupt anything. As it happens, the guests were just starting to arrive looking somewhat out of place with the men all dressed up in suits and ties and the women in dresses with summer hats. It would have been more fitting if they had on shorts and tees to go along with the scenery. Oh well…Still a beautiful place for a wedding. Lets hope that the lucky couple can copy nature and make their marriage last forever. Hard to do in these modern times but I wish them the very best. Guess I am a cynic.

Panoramic pictures of McKinney Roughs

Altogether, I covered 4.5 miles and I’m happy to say that the pack rode very well. I only noticed it a couple of times and if it had become too heavy, I could have always pulled out the camera and long lens and attached it to one of the carrying straps on my waist belt. I got some great pictures and everything is so wonderfully green with lots of wildflowers in bloom. Here’s looking forward to the next walk.

Written 4/24/2019

McKinney Roughs 1-30-2017


dsc_4874The weather had warmed up a bit and the sun was shining, way too good an opportunity to not hit the trails. It was kind of a last minute decision to take another walk and I debated on which of the Parks I would go to. In the end, it was McKinney Roughs that won out and after thinking about it for a bit, I decided that I would start at the main entrance and hit Foxtail to Whitetail and then onto Pine Ridge.

I followed my customary preparation that actually had an additional item this time. I had splurged on different hiking socks that are thicker and more absorbing which meant another item to change into (and out of) before putting on my boots, grabbing my backpack, camera belt and camera, water bottle and finally my walking poles and I was ready to go. I stopped at the Office to pay my $2:00 and to chat with the ladies behind the window before heading out.

I hadn’t walked Whitetail for some time and wanted to take a look at the two ponds along the way. Both had water in them and not much else. One had a large turtle that was sunning itself. I was hoping for a heron or two but no such luck. It seems that previous sightings of birds and animals do not necessarily mean any repeats and tend to be a one off. That is, with the exception of a pair of Buzzards that were perched in a tree. I managed to get a picture of them and I believe that I took pictures of Buzzards the last time out. Not necessarily the same pair of course as they all look alike to medsc_4881

I had a couple of ladies on horseback that caught up with me and we stopped and chatted for a bit. I took their pictures and they moved on.
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I crossed from Whitetail over to Pine Ridge and followed it for almost its full length. This trail leads past several of the Zip Line Structures which were closed on this day. I guess they are only open Thursday through Sunday. Pine Ridge has a fairly steep descent into the valley that requires traversing quite a few steps which, needless to say, present their own challenge as they are not in the best of repair.

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At the bottom, there is a small stream that meanders through the valley.

The same is true going back up the other side as it too requires the use of the steps.

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After successfully negotiating this part of the trail I crossed over onto Riverside which is a steep uphill climb out of the valley until it levels out at the top for an easy walk back to the Parking Lot.

Everything with the exception of the Pine trees and of course the Cedars, have on their wintery look. There are no leaves on the Oaks and other trees and even the long  grass is brown. Doesn’t make for very appealing pictures although I suppose, it does have its own beauty. I did find my first Dandelion of the season and also a green butterfly that blended in so well that it looked like a leaf.dsc_4870

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Altogether, I covered about 4.5 miles of very enjoyable walking. McKinney Roughs is truly a great place to walk. The video below is a compilation of some of the pictures I took.

McKinney Roughs 1-30-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

McKinney Roughs 1-24-2017


dsc_4832Following my walk at Reimers Ranch and with the weather still in the 70’s and low 80’s I decided to take a walk at McKinney Roughs which is still my most favorite of all of the local parks. I asked my friend BJ if she was interested but she texted me back to tell me that she was already in the middle of a walk, so maybe another day…

I arrived at the Main Office entrance as I had already decided that I was going to walk Ridge to Woodland and then Bluff Trail Loop. I donned my usual attire and just as I had on the last walk, put on a new pair of hiking socks to soften the trails a bit. They had worked well on the previous hike just a couple of days before. Every little thing helps as you grow older. Walking on the same feet for the past 80 years does tend to put a lot of wear and tear on them.

With all of the right gear on, I walked over to the office and paid my 2 dollars.  I spent a little time  chatting to the young lady behind the desk and then set out along the way. Ridge starts just behind the Dorms and is a really easy walking trail. I followed it until it branches to Woodland and then took it to Bluff Walk Loop. I wanted to get onto Riverside and follow it along the river but it was closed due to flooding. So, I completed the Bluff Walk Loop until I met up with Valley View. There are some nice views of part of the river on Valley View.

I ran into two young guys who were followed by a large man with a very small daughter. I asked if I could take their picture and they were very happy to oblige. I gave everyone one of my cards and the little girl handed hers off to her Father as her tiny hands were full of rocks that she had collected. The young guys introduced themselves as Andre and Josh while the father was Ryan and his daughter, Lucy. As we were leaving, Ryan, who had been carrying Lucy’s carry pack on his shoulders, took it down and she immediately went into very adamant protestations that she wanted to walk and not ride. Being the good father that I assume he is or maybe because she has him wrapped around her little finger at such a tender age, Ryan obeyed her wishes and the last I saw them going around the corner, she was busy striding it out with her tiny legs, determined to keep up with the men. Oh to be young again and have your whole life in front of you.dsc_4843

I continued along the trail and got onto Riverside which would bring me back to the car park. I bumped into two more ladies who as it happens, worked at the Roughs and were taking an afternoon walk on their break. I forgot to ask their names but they very happily posed for a picture.

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From Riverside, I got onto Bobcat Ridge which brought me back to the Parking Lot. Altogether, a very enjoyable hike. As per usual, my shirt was soaked which required a change but happily, this time,  I did not have to make any running repairs to my equipment. Just like the other park, Reimers Ranch, everything is brown as we are in the depths of winter and about the only thing green are the cedars and a few of the evergreen type bushes.

Altogether, I covered around  4 1/2 miles of very pleasant walking and burned enough calories for a slice of cheesecake later in the evening.

McKinney Roughs 01-24-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

McKinney Roughs 12-13-2016


dsc_4694I was reading my e-mails as I usually do first thing in the morning. There are normally anywhere between 100 and 150 every day mostly blog related. It usually takes a good hour to go through them all. I glanced at the weather link on my computer and saw that the day was supposed to get in the 70’s and would be sunny and the hiking itch suddenly was beginning to get to me. I thought about it for about 10 seconds and told myself that a good hike was just what I should do after the inactivity of the past couple of weeks due mainly to the wet weather.

That was all I needed in the way of encouragement so I went through my usual preparations, water, apple’s, camera, sunscreen and a change of clothes and loaded up the car. First though, I emailed my walking buddy to see if she wanted to join me apologizing for the last minute arrangements and received a phone call back from her saying that she had a party she had to go to even though hiking would have been her first choice.

I drove to McKinney Roughs and entered through the main entrance. There were only a couple of cars in the lot and one couple and their dog were just heading out as I went through my usual preparations, boots, suntan lotion, camera belt, backpack, water bottle and hat. Grabbing my walking sticks I headed towards the office to sign in and pay my $2.00. On the way, I walked past the flower garden they have planted that attract so many butterflies and took a couple of pictures of them. Butterflies are frustrating camera subjects as they either fly off just when you are ready to take the picture or have their wings closed and waiting  for the right moment just as they open them can sometimes take a while and they always choose to settle on the flower furthermost away from you.

I decided that I would walk Coyote Road going down and Riverside coming back up. In retrospect, I should have done that in reverse as Riverside is one big uphill climb and would have been much easier going down. I hit Coyote Road and the very first thing I noticed was the myriad of footprints and red flag markers along the trail. The footprints both human and horse were beginning to dry and made for very difficult walking and quite hazardous as it was real easy to turn an ankle on the very rough terrain. I plodded on taking great care where I stepped which slowed me down even slower than I normally walk but as it was turning out to be a hot day and very pleasant to walk in, I was not really complaining. I passed a couple of places where the horse riders can rest their animals and take a rest themselves. It’s great to see how LCRA as the park owners try to cultivate an active interest with the people that use their parks.

I passed a clump of very small flowers and on the way coming back, there were still a lot of the little yellow daisies on the level part of Riverside. The trees are beginning to turn very brown and many have already shed their leaves. Everything has a decidedly winter look to it with more browns than greens as you will see by the video. Still, it was great to get out after the past two weeks of relative inactivity. I had the trails to myself and didn’t see any other hikers. I guess the people in the parking lot ahead of me took different trails than me.

Enjoy the video.

McKinney Roughs Slideshow 12-13-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Walking McKinney Roughs 10-16-2016


dsc_4226-panoIt was time to walk as I headed for my most favorite of walking places, McKinney Roughs. I arrived at the Park and there were several cars in the parking area so I thought I might run into some people out on the trail.

Following my usual routine of boots, hat, neckerchief around my forehead, water and backpack along with my camera belt and camera and I was ready to go. I decided that I would start off along Riverside and then onto Pine Ridge and hike it for its full distance, steps and all. Actually, I ended up taking Cypress so that I could walk alongside of the river just in case there might be some wildlife around but that  was after I had reconnoitered the many steps both up and down Pine Ridge.

I was in the area where the Zip Lines are being built and it looked like they were real close to be opened for the Public. The lady in the office had told me they would be testing everything “next week” before they could be opened.

From Cypress, where I had met another hiker taking a rest on one of the picnic tables, I headed up Riverside for a short distance before taking the trail to Bobcat Ridge which brought me back to the Parking Area. I met several people along the way and stopped and chatted to most of them before giving them my card and taking their picture.

Altogether, I covered a little over 4.5 miles in much cooler weather ideal for hiking. There are still a few flowers some by the office attracting a large number of butterflies.

Altogether, this is a beautiful place to hike and everything is still so very green. With the weather cooling down, there is not so much urgency to start early and consequently it was closer to 4:00 pm when I got back to the Parking Lot. I never met any horses on my trails but did catch sight of a couple that were on Whitetail.dsc_4206

Hiking Yaupon at McKinney Roughs 10-11-2016


dsc_4139-panoI went back to McKinney Roughs to walk Yaupon which is one of the hardest trails to hike at the park. It’s harder than Pine Ridge with all of its steps mainly due to the terrain which is like a switchback, up and down turn a corner and another uphill. In some places, the trail is made up of loose pebble stones which by themselves are difficult to walk on. Add them to a hill and its twice as hard whether going up or down.

In theory, Yaupon does complete a full circle IF the trail at Roadrunner and Coyote Road were open. Unfortunately, since the last major flood, the trails are washed out by the river and the circuit is broken and not passable. Knowing this, my plan was to walk Yaupon starting at the Main Office Parking Lot, walk to the Pope Bend Trailhead and then turn back and retrace my steps completing my own little circuit.

The weather was cool enough that the hike was enjoyable at least from the comfort point of view. That still didn’t change the difficulty of the trail but at least was one less thing to consider. Another young couple started the trail ahead of me and judging by the binoculars they were both wearing, were bird enthusiasts. They took the the Coyote Road trail where it branched off at Bobcat Ridge while I continued along my planned route of Yaupon. After that, I had the trail to myself in both directions for the duration of the walk.

The picture at  the top of the page is a panorama of three pictures. The rest of the pictures below are of the Yaupon trail.

All in all, it was another very enjoyable walk even though I did feel a little tired at the end of it. Altogether, I covered 8.5 miles and finished it off with a walk around HEB for some grocery shopping which brought the days total to 9.0 miles. Not bad for an old fart…