November 15, 2009
As a kid, I spent many hours here tromping around the woods, and got to know the place pretty well since we only lived about 20 minutes away. This nature center was the only wild area I encountered for the first 16 years of my life, with the exception of seeing wilderness from the backseat of our family sedan as we took trips to Disneyland or South Padre Island. After nearly 15 years of living in Colorado and Wyoming, with seemingly endless open, public land, the Fort Worth Nature Center, at 3600 acres, seems relatively small and provincial. Nevertheless, itís a soothingly pristine tract of forest amidst a flurry of development, and provides an excellent place for urbanites to retreat for awhile.
Mike, Mandy, Andra and I took a trip out to the Nature Center on a cloudy Sunday morning to enjoy just such a retreat. After entering the park, we headed first to the Boardwalk, and walked the raised wooden path through tall rushes reeds out over a slough that leads to shelter right on the edge of open water. For many years, a portion of the boardwalk has been damaged and closed, apparently after a tree fell over and crushed a portion of it. Itís a little surprising that this has remained unfixed and closed for the last 3-5 years. After we leisurely walked out to the covered shelter and back, we drove up to the Cross Timbers Trailhead.
The Cross Timbers Trail is the longest developed trail in the Nature Center, at 3.4 miles. It follows the West Fork of the Trinity River for a short ways, then heads west and forms a loop through oak forest. I recall hiking it as a kid and thinking it was interminably long. For many years this trail was closed because the initial segment of earthen dike holding back the slough had broken through. Thus, I hiked this trail for the first time in at least 20 years. The initial stretch is very scenic as it follows the slow-moving river. The stretch through the oak forest is also scenic, and the quietness of the still air in the trees is very nice. We poked along at a moderate pace through the woods, encountering a few groups of hikers along the way. We completed the loop, then returned to the parking lot via the earthen dike along the slough.
The Caprock Trail jumps off from the same parking lot, and heads to the south towards the Interpretive Center. We decided to head up there, and took the trail through the trees uphill to the building. Being Sunday, the building was closed until noon, but we did take time to examine the opossums and owls in the outside cages around the building. We returned to the car by the loop around 11:45.
We got in the car and drove
on down towards Greer Island. We stopped to examine a long snake in the
road, which I moved with a tree branch to keep it from getting run over
by the next car coming along. It didnít want to go, but after nudging it
repeatedly, it made a dash for the brush and disappeared within. At Greer
Island, there was a canoe day going on, and instead of hiking, we decided
to rent canoes and paddle around the water for a bit. Mandy and Mike got
in one canoe, and Andra and I hopped in another. I donít canoe much, so
it was a nice treat gliding across the calm water. We skimmed along the
shore of Greer Island, then paddled through an obstacle course of bleached
branches of submerged trees poking out above the water. We circled around
back towards the landing along the lake shore, and admired fishing Herons
at close range. After about an hour, we beached the canoes back where we
started, and drove out to have lunch.
Fantastic old oaks along the Cross Timbers Trail
West Fork Trinity River
Andra, Mandy and Michael start up the Caprock Trail from the Trinity River
Marshy vegetation along the boardwalk
Andra, Michael and Mandy on the boardwalk over the slough
More nature pics at:
Page created 12-27-09