State Park Hwy 4 west from US 281 is a roller-coaster of a road, literally. As you crest the first hill, you can't see the bottom of the road. It is very steep. The road goes up and down a number of times, not to mention the tight 35 mph curvy section closer to the park entrance. Vehicles towing RVs and boats beware!!
The only delay in our drive was a flipped over pontoon boat by a curve near the park. The local police had one lane blocked to route cars around the accident. We could not see a tow vehicle so we're wondering what happened to it. The pontoon boat was a total loss. It was flipped up on one side, but looked like it had somersaulted as the top was crushed. This was a minor, five-minute inconvenience.
At the park entrance gate, we showed our state park pass and were given a vehicle window sticker for day use. We located the parking lot at the trailhead and waited for more people to arrive. While waiting, Bob took a nap and I met Pam, Marguerite, Mike, and Samantha who were gearing up in the parking lot.
Twenty people later we were off, walking at a good clip along the green trail to Inks Lake. The highlights of this hike were the wildflowers, the trails, lake views, expansive granite outcrops and the cacti. However, there are a lot of exposed areas, i.e., no shade. If you plan to hike here, be sure to put on sunscreen and take lots of water! Start as early in the day as possible if the temperature is going into the 90-100 F. range.
|Bob ready to roll.|
|Prickly pear and brown-eyed Susans.|
|Paul leading the pack.|
|Pink granite and yellow stonecrop.|
|Yucca fireworks (with brown-eyed Susans).|
Paul took us to the top of a granite outcropping. The view of Inks Lake was great from this viewpoint.
|Find your own way to the top.|
|Top of the hill.|
|View of the lake and dam from the top of the granite hill.|
|Amanda removing stickers from Lucky.|
|Consulting the map...where are we anyway?|
|Hill Country Hikers hitting their stride.|
|I want to go there, and we did.|
|Lovely wildflower (rose gentian/Texas star) all by itself.|
|Texas paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa)|
|Inks Lake State Park landscape.|
|Bull nettle (Cnidoscolus texanus)|
|The trail wound up, around, over, down, and through rocks.|
|Yours truly on the rocks.|
|...and Bob rockin' out.|
|I wasn't kidding about lots of rocks!|
|Spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata)|
|Pencil cactus with bright red berries.|
|Cousin Itt cactus (my name for it)|
|More Inks Lake landscapes.|
|Natural xeriscaping (dry landscaping).|
|This cactus is cheering for us, "You can do it!"|
|I LOVE this little white lace cactus. The star design is gorgeous.|
|The brown-eyed Susans were up to our thighs.|
|Hey, for once I'm ahead of the pack!|
|Visitor to our picnic area.|
|Lizard on the rocks.|
|Winecup flower under spotted beebalm.|
|Swimming hole, too stagnant for Bob and others in our group.|
|Scenery by the trail. Our group did not swim here.|
|Bob negotiating the rocks at Devil's Waterhole to climb higher.|
As you can see in the photo below, Bob enjoyed the jump into refreshing lake water. After Bob's first jump, a large group of people arrived who were drinking beer, smoking and being obnoxious. The young men of the group climbed to the top of the large rocks and leapt out over the lower rocks for more of a rush. I'm happy I did not witness anyone hitting the rocks on their way down! We left shortly after.
[An aside: At some Oregon swimming holes, people die or become quadriplegic after hitting rocks trying to jump from too high. One swimming hole in Oregon, High Rocks, had to close to public swimming because drunk people were climbing the trees on the cliffs and trying to jump out far enough to miss the rocks. If they didn't hit the rocks on the way down, they hit the rocks under the water. Sad.]
|People jumping from the rocks above where most|
people dive. Bob is 6' tall, so we can guess these
taller rocks add another 20' in elevation to the jump.
|Bob launching himself into the air.|
|Bob hitting the water (bottom left).|
With Bob refreshed and reinvigorated, we headed about a quarter mile back to the car and called it a day. As we drove toward US 281, we stopped so I could take a photo of a castle on the hill. We had no idea what it was, so I Googled it. You can read about Falkenstein Castle here.
|The photos on their website do it more justice.|
We stopped on the way home for dinner. In the evening we watched 60 Minutes and The Discovery Channel's North America.
Travel Bug out.