Group Trail Run at Colorado Bend State Park
This past weekend, I led a group of trail runners, "Austin Dirt Runners", on a ten mile tour of Colorado Bend State Park. We had an amazing time. Despite it being easter weekend, we got to the park early enough to beat the crowds. By the time we completed our run, the crowds started showing up. It was perfect.
We started at the Lemons Ridge Pass parking lot and followed the trail to the Cedar Chopper Connection trail. This trail is a nice way to start off a run. It's pretty covered, not horribly technical, and has some nice gentle hills and turns to get you warmed up. At the Cedar Chopper Loop trail, we ran clock wise to the Tinaja trail.
On the Tinaja trail, things start to get pretty technical. There are many switchbacks and rocky descents and climbs. Still, it's pretty easy to find a rhythm. Along the way there are some amazing hill country views. It's easy to just want to take it all in. The Tinaja trail's main attraction is the Tinaja. A Tinaja is a surface depression below a waterfall where water pools. This creates a vibrant ecosystem for plants and wildlife that rely on the water. It's a pretty enticing site, especially on a warm day.
After leaving the Tinaja, there is a short climb, then it's mostly a down hill run to meet up with the trail that leads to Gorman Falls. Intersecting the two trails is a jeep road. The trail to Gorman falls slows down a bit as it quickly becomes a scramble, rather than a run, but it's the high light of the run with a gorgeous waterfall in a very pristine setting.
After leaving Gorman Falls, we scrambled up the slick limestone trail leading back to the Jeep road. From here, we followed the Jeep road down to the convention center and hopped on to the River trail. The River trail is a trail that you can pretty much set cruise control on and enjoy the scenery. There are only a couple short technical sections, but for the most part you can just enjoy the views of the river, the limestone cliffs, and about half way back to Lemons Ridge Pass you cross over a very cool cave that dumps out into the river.
Once back at Lemons Ridge Pass trail, you start the climb out of the river valley back to the parking lot, marking the end of the loop.
One of the things that I've really come to love about trail running is that it's an abbreviated hike in which you get to see a lot of amazing landscapes and scenery in a short period of time. It's an awesome way to spend the day. I genuinely can't get enough of it.