My first overnight in Texas was south of Dallas at Inks Lake State Park. I have spent the last year on several Texas hiking and camping social media pages and this name seemed to pop up a lot. It was also about two maximum driving days from my home, making it a great place to decompress from the road and start to settle into the rhythm of traveling rather than transporting.
I arrived just after dark. This made for a beautiful drive into the area, watching the sun set over the Texas hills, the desert oaks creating amazing silhouettes against the watercolor skies. It was definitely better than the previous evening when I arrived in Arkansas at the same time as the monster storm. I skirted just south of the worst of that, but the constant tornado warnings and lightning were exhausting.
Inks Lake Campground is a labyrinth of sites. I imagine it started as a relatively small operation and loops were added wherever possible as the area became more popular. Way-finding after dark was definitely tricky. I was very happy to find my site was close to the trailhead I was hoping to explore and had a nice view of the water as well. This was the only site I could find when I made reservations a couple weeks before so I wasn’t able to be picky. Be aware – the campground fills up during weekends – even in December.
I managed to get set up in the dark and get to bed relatively early. The next morning, my first stop was back at headquarters to get registered. Texas state parks ask late arrivals check in no later than 9am the following morning. I stopped at the gift shop for firewood and enjoyed a family of kittens playing out back. Yes, feral cats are a terrible idea in a state park. But their tumbles and feigned attacks were cuteness overload.
Around midday I finally got organized enough for a hike to the Devil’s Wateringhole. I have previously hiked to some of his bathtubs and falls, so I was curious to see where he liked to get a drink. My campsite was one of the closest to the trailhead without being on top of the trailhead parking. A different spot in the campground could definitely add a mile each way.
Inks Lake is a result of the damming of the Spring Creek – name for the season it runs most abundantly, not because it emerges from the ground. The Devil’s Wateringhole hike explores those headwaters and the surrounding canyon. I find Texas creeks to be charming with their wide flat pools connected by tiny rivulets. The waters are clear and inviting. It is very different from the muddy expanses of Ohio or the rapids of the Appalachians. The Wateringhole itself was a slightly deeper impression into which the tiniest of waterfalls dropped. I wonder what the creek would look like in a rainier season.
As an Ohioan I found the plants just as appealing as the landscape. Blue did not. We have to learn that in Texas we cannot mash our nose into every good smell. Lots of things in Texas fight back. I picked stickers out of Blue’s nose and feet along the way.
The hikes at Inks Lake are pretty, but short. I strung together about three miles of trails. The crowds were constant, but not overwhelming. And it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon for a hike. The only downside to this hike was a young man with two dogs who were way too much for him. I encountered one off leash when he had just gotten away. The dogs snarled and snapped as I tried to walk Blue past and this man was lying on the ground trying to hold them back. Over the course of the hike I met with several others who had had negative encounters with those dogs. It was very sad to see.
I had intended to spend the afternoon at the trailer doing some organization and making some reservations, but the stress of two long days of driving really caught up to me. As soon as I sat down, the exhaustion became overwhelming. Blue and I both crawled into bed and woke over an hour later.
The good news is I am on vacation, so I was able to spend the evening getting done what was necessary (and catching up with some folks via phone) and did the rest in the morning. We took one long walk around the campground before leaving, then headed out to the next destination!