Butterflies galore, shady trails
Purgatory Creek Natural Area
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Distance: 8.90 Miles
Like a lot of trails in Texas, this one's enjoyability depends heavily on the weather. Today it was a solid 4, but when it's hot and humid out, it's more of a 3.
Highlights--a poop-ton of butterflies! It's October, and there are butterflies all over the place.
Nice lunch spot in the bed of the now-dry creek, under a rocky, ferny bluff.
Good shade coverage for much of the hike.
Saw a neat green snake climbing an oak tree.
Another big oak totally festooned with Spanish moss.
Nice scenic overlook.
Plenty enough trail to get a nice, long hike.
When you're hot and tired, the hike up from the creek to the hilltop can be a chore.
A lot of ankle-twisty rocks.
Gnats and mosquitos can be bad in the creek valley.
A varied combo of urban walks/hikes
Dick Nichols Park
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Distance: 3.25 Miles
I walked the loop on the right side of Beckett and then crossed and did the leg of the Latta Greenbelt. Not sure if I did all of it--it appeared to dead end at a library or community center, and I couldn't pick it back up.
The loop, which is mostly paved, is pretty busy, but I only ran into a few people in the greenbelt. The shade on the loop was particularly pleasant.
I was a little disappointed there wasn't a better trail connecting to the adjacent Karst Preserve--there were some wading-through-the-grass-and-chiggers kinds of trails, but nothing that looked official. When you put all three parks together (Dick Nichols, Latta Greenbelt, and Karst Preserve) you can get a good 3.5 miles or more, which is just the right length for an after-work hike. The combo was kind of fun--part neighborhood trail, part city park, part hiking trail, plus a bit threading across a retail block to get to the karst--quite a varied experience. You'll never forget you're in the middle of a city, though.