Authors

James Choate (jchoate@confusionresearchcenter.org) 1, 2

1. Confusion Research Center (http://confusionresearchcenter.org)
2. Sierra Club, Central Texas Chapter (http://www.meetup.com/Austin-Sierra-Club-Outings/)


NOTE: When we are hosting this event through Sierra Club, membership or donations are not required. This event is open to the public and has no charges associated with it.

Image Info: The parking area from the entrance road, the dam behind.

Austin Explorer has this to say about this small park,

“The trails at Chalk Ridge present something of a mystery. At the trailhead, marked on the map by a waypoint of the same name, one finds an interpretive sign pointing out some of the animals one might find on the hike, but no trail map. So I set about mapping as much of the trail as I could in the time I had. Little did I realize that I would map a bit more than planned.”

Image Info: The current map at the trailhead, it isn't accurate :)

Be warned there is Poison Ivy and snakes as the signs will attest. Gray Herons nest here as well as Vultures along with many other birds.

The park is the consequence of the large damn used for water control and irrigation installed by the Army Corp. of Engineers. Our excursion will consist of three tracks, out and back for each. The first will be down the river, after crossing Jacob’s suspension bridge, it’s about a mile and a half or so. When we come back there is a short but challenging loop requiring a scramble up a short Class III face followed by crossing one of the streams on a small concrete weir back to our starting spot. The final leg will be down the other major stream entering the Lampassas river. This usually has at least a small trickle of water in the bottom to deal with at several places. Total distance is perhaps 5 miles but it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s shorter.

Image Info: The river before the suspension bridge.

Image Info: The falls just to the right of the bridge.

Image Info: This tree on the other side of the bridge is huge!

Image Info: When we return from the first leg down the river we'll do a short scramble up and down and then cross back over the stream above the falls using this weir. You will need gloves for the scramble!

Directions

Proceed north on I-35 and exit at mile marker 286 (Parmer Ln. is mile marker 245), just past the large state rest stop. You’ll proceed along the access road a very short distance to FM 2484, you’ll want to turn left (W) and proceed to FM 1670. Turn right (N) onto FM 1670 and proceed about 3.5 miles to the park entrance on your right. If you go over the dam itself you’ve gone too far. Parking is at the base of the dam and is very limited, though you can apparently park along the access road if necessary.

Location

5600 FM 1670
Belton, TX 76513
254-939-2461

Image Info: The entrance to the feeder stream channel, there is usually water in the bottom to some degree, so be prepared! This is the last leg of the hike.

Clothing & Equipment

While this is a short hike the terrain is varied. You should have at least three layers (base, insulation, wind/water) of clothes, shoes suitable for hiking and scrambling (no open toed footwear please). A backpack to keep your gear, work or outdoor gloves, a couple liters of water, and some snacks would be a good idea as well. We can expect to cross water and wet ground in several places. It might also be a good idea to bring medication if you react to Poison Ivy as it can sometimes be quite prevalent.

How to find the group

We’ll meet at the parking lot trailhead sign. It’s strongly suggested that participants arrange car pooling among themselves because parking here is very limited. Expect travel time to be about 45 minutes from N. Austin. So you want to be on the road at least an hour before the hike start time! For those carpooling I can suggest meeting at the Walmart on I35 at Parmer Ln. There is also an HEB (and many other stores) along that stretch of I35 for any last minute needs. I will meet you at the park as I have a time commitment on Saturday morning.

Image Info: An overhead shot of the park and our approximate tracks.

Afterward we could retire to Salado (the other side of I35) for some food if there is interest. Please let me know ahead of time.

Acknowledgements

Disclaimers

Suggestions for Further Reading