A Walk at Buescher State Park 9-13-2019

A real trail…

The weather has cooled down just a little to where, by starting early, it is possible to take a short hike as long as one gets done by early afternoon. I had wanted to go back to Buescher State Park now that I knew that the trails had been reopened after the fire and so I opted to do just that.

I had called my hiking partner, BJ and she was willing to walk with me as she has never been to this particular park even though it is only 15 or so miles from her home. We arranged that I would pick her up at the Walmarts not far from her house and on Highway 71, the main road to Smithville where the park is located. For once, I was actually on time and as we drove off, she admitted to not remembering the time we were supposed to meet and had arrived 30 minutes early.

We drove around a bit to look at some of the buildings built back in 1933 when the park was created under the CCC program when thousands of men and women were put to work during the Great Depression. For more info, use this link. We then took Park Road 1C which actually connects to Bastrop State Park and parked in the Overlook Parking where the trail we wanted to take, starts.

The plan was to follow this trail aptly named Pine Gulch as it headed North on the left side of Park Road 1C and then cross over the road and head back down the trail on the opposite side but things didn’t work out quite exactly as we had planned. We reached the point where the trail crosses the road and had a lot of discussion regarding which way we should go from there. By then, I was completely turned around with my directions and BJ, being the cell phone nerd that she is, quickly pulled up the map of the trails on her phone and got us pointed in the right direction. Even though she insisted that she was right and that the phone could not lie, it was not until the truck and the Parking Lot came into sight did I start to believe her. We had decided not to walk the trail back but to stay on the road instead as it was a lot easier walking and the trail that we had just been on, had been a little difficult underfoot. This one is a real trail not much wider than a single person with vegetation on both sides. Unfortunately, because of the fires, there was not a lot of shade as most of the taller trees were gone.

We sat on a log for a while just chattering and cooling off before jumping back into the truck for me to return BJ to her car. Altogether, we covered about 4.3 miles and I thoroughly enjoyed it although I was a bit sore for the next couple of days. After all, I had not been walking for quite a while because of the heat which hopefully is now over for the year. I plan on going back to complete the rest of the trails.

Written 9/16/2019

Getting Up Early

5000 Gallon Pond showing the urn needing repair.

I got up early today as I was going to play
and take a hike my idea of heaven
I set the alarm for six o’clock and didn’t get up when it stopped
instead lay there for an hour until seven
another hour later I jumped in my truck thinking that with luck
I might get walking before the sun threatened
I started to drive and my thoughts came alive
of the stuff at home I had abandoned
I turned around and was homeward bound
in the blink of an eye to my island
to be met at the door with dogs galore
glad about what had happened
I went out to the ponds and before very long
was working away like I bargained
cleaning this filter here and another one there
and finally into the ponds as they beckoned
where I made a repair to the waterfall’s hardware
and set the urn back so emboldened
hoping this time things will stay in line
and the problems forever will be solven.

I can hike tomorrow…

Written 8/30/2019

A Drive Through Bueschers State Park 7-26-2019

The view from Pine Gulch Trailhead

I decided to go for a drive to Bueschers State Park which is located in Smithville mainly because I haven’t been there in a very long time. What I really wanted was to check out if the trails had been reopened after the fires of September and October of 2011. I could have called but it was much more fun to go see for myself. I had left it too late to actually hike as it was after noontime and the temperatures were climbing in the 90 degree plus areas making it a little too warm to start a hike. For me, I need to start at lower temperatures and as the heat increases, my body adjusts accordingly but I am not very good at starting a hike in the direct heat of 90 degrees or more.

A view from the Scenic Overlook off Park Road 1C

I arrived at the Park only to discover that the office was closed for lunch. I was only planning on driving through to the Bastrop State Park on a connecting road that was named Park Road 1C and was not going to make use of any of the Park Facilities including the trails and I figured I could get by without a sticker.

Original Loblolly Pines

Park Road 1C is a pleasant 12 mile drive that connects the two parks. It actually goes through all of the major burn areas from that previous fire. Everywhere you look are signs of Nature’s recovery from those dreadful fires. Thousands of Loblolly Pines have been replanted, mainly by volunteers to replace those that were lost to the fire assisted by natural reproduction from Nature. They are between 6 and 10 feet tall now and growing strongly and are everywhere which makes it look very good for the future of both Parks.

More Loblolly Pines

I arrived at the Trailhead for the Pine Gulch parking area sharing the space with with a UPS truck with the driver enjoying his lunch break. Great spot for a break although he probably follows the same routine when he is in the area. From the signs, it was obvious that the trails had been reopened and I promised myself that I would take full advantage of them in the very near future.

The view from the Scenic Overlook.

I continued along Park Road 1C taking a few pictures of the beautiful Loblolly Pines that had not been touched by the fire and then arrived at the Scenic Overlook, located in the Bastrop State Park. This is one of the highest point in the Park and has a wonderful view. From there, I headed out of the Park and took Highway 71 back through Bastrop with the inevitable stop at Starbucks along the way. Buescher State Park is on my list of upcoming hikes for the very near future.

Located at the start of Bastrop State Park.

Written 7/27/2019

Buescher State Park – 9-24-2017


There are ten individual pictures to make up this Pano

I decided at the last minute that I would drive to Buescher State Park in Smithville to see how the Park was recovering after the devastating fires from a few years ago, 2011 to be exact. The plan was to go in the Park entrance and then take Park Road 1C back through to Bastrop State Park as I hadn’t planned to hike any of the trails. I turned off HWY 71 where the sign pointed to the Park and arrived at the Park gate only to see that it was barricaded off with another sign indicating that I should follow the Detour instead.

I turned around and then followed the Detour which I figured would bring me back into the park from the back end, so to speak. There are several roads that lead into the park that have private residences so not all accesses are controlled. I drove around for a bit just checking things out. The Park was pretty quiet as far as visitors go with a few cars parked at the cabins. I drove to the lake and looked around but it too was very quiet and I couldn’t see any bird life at all.

I decide to take Park Road 1C and head towards Bastrop State Park and then stopped at the two overlooks located along the way.  The picture at the top of the page is a pano of 10 separate pictures joined together. It truly is a wonderful view. The picture below is a single picture taken from the first overlook.


Continuing along Park Road 1C, I noticed that the flowers were out in abundance and then as I turned another corner, came across a road washout which completely prevented me from continuing towards Bastrop State Park. I am not sure when this washout occurred but it must have been very recently as no attempt had been made to make any repairs. I turned the car around and then walked back to take a few pictures mostly of the wild flowers.








I had no choice other than to backtrack and head out of the Park off one of the other roads which was no problem. It looks like the Park is coming back to life and there is a lot of new vegetation and young trees growing. Even the Loblolly Pines that were planted just after the burn are beginning to grow back. Nature is a pretty wonderful thing and has remarkable powers of recovery and even takes the opportunity to wield her magic brush and paint a different picture than was there before.

Written 9/26/2017

A Walk at Buescher State Park 11-12-2016

dsc_4389-panoI was out for a drive and found myself heading towards Smithville. I did not want to go into the town as it really does not have too much to offer, so elected to drive Park Road 1C that actually connects Buescher State Park and Bastrop State Park.It doesn’t matter which end you enter, you still have to buy a ticket even though you never get out of your car. I got to chatting to the two Park Rangers that were in the Office at the gate and one of them mentioned that they had added a little more to their one and only trail that was open following the recent fires that burned almost 4000 acres of the Park and surrounding area.

I thought to myself, “What the hell, I have all of my gear so why not take the short walk.” I pulled into the Parking Area designated for the Trailhead and noticed it was pretty full. As I prepared for the hike with the usual boots, backpack, camera belt and camera and my walking poles I passed three Oriental people along with a very young baby, reading the signboard. I said hello as I passed them and for a while, could hear them behind me but for once, I stayed ahead of them. Must have been the baby that slowed them down as normally, I do not outwalk anybody.

The trail is a very pleasant one to walk on as it intertwines between the famous Pines and other tall trees with very little in the way of cedars at least that I could see. There were no signs of the fire desolation in this area and it made for very easy and pleasant walking. Flowers are getting in very short supply as Nature is taking on the Fall look.

I passed several couples on the trail who let me take their pictures. Most people are very willing to oblige and I have not had one tell me no, yet. One couple actually passed me going in both directions but they were runners.They obligingly stopped long enough for me to take their picture.

The trail ends at what is called, the Overlook Point. The last fire reached this area as you can see from the picture at the top that shows many of the charred remains. The top picture is a combination of 5 images sewn together into that panoramic view.

The slideshow below is of this walk.

Buescher State Park 11-12-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Buescher State Park after the latest fire – 11-8-2015. Note: The slide shows may be slow in loading.

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I wanted to go for a walk and couldn’t decide where to go. I sat at the table thinking about this place and that place and in my minds eye, could visualize the different trails having been to them so many times before. I have just bought a new camera lens, a Tamron 16-300 that can take both close ups and long distance, I really needed to try it out before sending in the warranty.

The problem I have is knowing already that photo opportunities are few and far between at the many Parks I have already visited without re-taking the same pictures over and over. It is also hard to write a piece for the blog without repeating myself. There are very few wild flowers in bloom right now and much of the scenery is drab and unexciting with the advent of Fall. Not like up North with the pretty maple trees that are putting on a display. Scrub cedar and live oaks tend not to color up as they drop their leaves.

I opted to go to McKinney Roughs which is one of my favorite places to walk and drove towards Bastrop to the East Trailhead. When I arrived, the gates were locked and a sign said that the Trails were closed to Hikers and Horseback riders for repair. Not to be outdone, I continued on towards Smithville where the Buescher State Park is located. I didn’t expect those trails to be open due to the massive fire they had at the end of last month that burned something like 4600 acres but I thought that I might be able to drive Park Road 1C, the road between the Bastrop State Park and Buescher, and get a look at the extent of the damage.

I knew from previous visits that there are plenty of photo opportunities to try out the long distance of the new lens as I drove up Park Road 1C and headed towards the first trail head. It is about 12 miles between the two parks and normally a very pleasant drive. There was no sign of fire until I reached the trail head which is pretty elevated with a great view of the valley below filled with farm houses and sheds, pastures of green grass, grazing cattle and bales of hay. I took a few shots of this panoramic view and then turned my attention to the burnt areas which had come all the way up the hill and had, in some places, burnt the fence surrounding the parking area. Behind me, everything was still green so at this point the fire had not jumped the road.

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I drove up the road stopping wherever I thought might be a good picture and it wasn’t far before I could see that both sides of the road were burned. It was obvious to see where all of the underbrush has been burned out leaving the taller trees still standing. Whether or not they have survived is another story and we will have to wait until the Spring to find that out.

As I drove up the road, in between the trees, I could see remnants of houses with nothing left but piles of twisted metal roofing. It was a sad sight to witness as many people had lost everything they had. I tried to imagine what that must be like and could really not get my head around it. All of the insurance in the world cannot replace a lifetime of memories.

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Continuing on, I noticed that the new fire had burned up to the old fire of a couple of years ago, which only increased the area of desolation. It was interesting to compare the two fires as even in a couple of years, the undergrowth was starting to emerge and the many newly planted Lob-lolly Pines were coming along real strong. If it wasn’t for the burned and still standing trees, it would be hard for anyone to say there had been a recent fire in the old section. Nature is pretty amazing that given the time, she can regrow herself and although it may not be the same as before, it will create its own beauty.

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Towards the end of the road and now in the Bastrop State Park, I came across a stream that still had quite a bit of water flowing through it and just had to take some more pictures of something green as opposed to all of the desolation. A couple of young does crossed in front of me as they scampered across the road. Couldn’t get the camera up in time to take a picture.

All in all, a pleasant way to spend the afternoon although it would have been much nicer if my subject matter had not been quite so depressing.

Oh, yes, I will keep the lens. It works just fine,

Buescher State Park – First Trip Jan 23, 2015

Pine Tree at Buescher State ParkI originally meant to hike the Bastrop State Park but arrived late in the afternoon and opted to just drive around the park to see what wonders it might hold. It is a very sad sight to see the beautiful pines mostly gone in the wildfire of 2011 and it made me feel very depressed as the view didn’t change. Miles and miles of charred trees standing like ghost statues as mementos to the fire.

I was able to drive around the loop for free as long as I didn’t get out of my car and I was under a time limit given me by the Park Ranger. I had no intention of doing anything except to view the damage but I did discover that I could drive on to Buescher State Park on Park Road 1-c. I completed the loop and then took the road to Buescher Park, a distance of 11 miles. On the way, I ran out of the fire desolation and the trees and greenery were again abundant with a lot of the Pine trees mixed in with the others. I noticed a couple of trail heads among all of this greenery marking the trails that ran through the area.True to its word, the road ran right into the Buescher Park and on the way out, I stopped at the Guard Station and picked up a couple of maps and then drove home and made plans to visit the Buescher Park instead on a different day.

Two days later found me driving towards Smithville and back to the Park the entrance of which is off Highway 153 just outside of Smithville. For a nominal fee of 4 dollars and after a couple of questions to the Park Ranger, I hopped back into my car and headed back up Park Road 1-c to the first trail head marked on the map. Pulling into the parking area, the first thing I noticed was the marvellous view from the overlook that was the parking area. In the far distance, I could see the burned trees standing like statues on top of the hill, several miles away.

I opted to walk a 5 mile loop that led me up one side of Park Road 1-c and the after crossing the road, back  down to my starting point coming out at the Virginia Harris Cockrell Cancer Research Center at Science Park, just across the road from the parking lot.

It was a great day to be walking and I passed a few others who obviously had drawn the same conclusion. The hike was a mix of scenery but was nearly always under the shade of trees of different varieties. The trail was not a bit difficult and the surface changed from red rock, to pebble stones and then to plain old dirt as I changed elevations. There were a couple of new bridges and at one point a sign warning of a dangerous curve ahead. The trail is open to bikers but it did not appear that it was used by too many. I didn’t see a single one and there were no signs underfoot that any had passed recently. The recent rains had filled the very small stream in one of the gullies but it was really not much more than a ditch and presented no difficulties.

From a photographic point of view, there is a lot of monotony in the scenery and it was difficult to get much variety in the pictures. I spent a couple of hours and took well over 100 pictures some of which are shown below. There is one whimsical picture of little stacks of rocks that some enterprising, and probably young person, had taken the time to build.The class I recently attended at Precision Camera has helped me tremendously in getting things in focus and making better choices of subjects. On the way home, I was drawn by a beautiful sunset and just had to stop the car to take a couple of pictures.

I plan on going back to Buescher State Park in a couple of days to hike the long trail.