Just a little ways west of San Antonia you can take an exit that crawls up through a rocky crevice. Before twisting to the left and carrying you over the interstate you just departed.
The road curves through the countryside. Bringing you to a long beautiful steel bridge stretched above a river that is etching its way across the landscape.
Tucked away on the other side is a small town named Junction. Whose edge you’ll just skirt through, as you are leaving the world of internet and cell service behind.
Then… before you’ve had a chance to fully take in the scenery along the road. You will have arrived at South Llano River State park.
Onboard Midna, I keep an old fashion (but up to date) no batteries required road atlas…
(For the young-ens that’s like google maps… Just printed out, put into book form, with no address look up, and you got to figure out the directions for yourself.)
I’d traced my path along the map; from San Antonio to Big Bend. Looking for points of interest and seen a little green square. Which indicates a park…
So onto the itinerary it had gone. Fingers crossed that it would be a nice little adventure.
The park had an entry fee of five dollars a day for those of us no longer in our preteens. (i.e 13 and up) Which really isn’t bad.
Apparently if they have a Texas States park pass though, adults can get in for free… well… kinda free they have to initially have paid for the park pass itself.
Which cost $70 buckaroos… per person. Though you can buy a second one attached to the same address for another $25 smackaroos.
Of more interest to us I.D.L/I.P.F sufferers and transplant survivors; that have been deemed permanently disabled… is the Texas park lands pass.
“If you are medically disabled and receive Social Security benefits, you qualify for the Disability passport, good at Texas state parks that charge entry fees. With this pass, you pay 50 percent off the entry fee. The passholder may extend this same benefit to one additional person to assist them.” – tex.gov
According to the website, it doesn’t look like you have to be a Texas resident to obtain one and unlike the State park pass which gets you in for free (for just $70)… The parklands pass is free and gets you in at 50% off.
So if I make it back to the lovely land of Texas one day; I may look into one of these.
I have to say what really struck me about this park was how clean it was. Maybe it was because of the time of year I went… Maybe November isn’t as busy? I don’t know.
But it was really clean. Those rangers should be proud of this place and themselves. I literally… and I’m not using that word as hyperbole. I literally mean literally…
I literally did not see a single piece of trash or litter anywhere while hiking through South Llano State Park. None… zero… zip… nadda
Usually no matter where you go, you will eventually see something. An old soda bottle lid.. the wrapper off a granola bar… a discarded trail map… something. Not here.
Apparently there is tent camping both at campsites and along the back-country trails (primitive). I didn’t really look into those because… I had to pay to park Midna there soooo, I slept in the bed with my nice comfy pillows.
Plus, unless someones figured out a much better delivery method for those who’ve been prescribed O2… I don’t think most folks in the IPF community need to be spending the night out in the woods.
R/V parking was $20 bucks a night and included electrical hookups, water hookups, a covered picnic table and a fire ring.
There were separate men and women’s washrooms in the center of the camping area. I took a picture of the outside, but didn’t even think to go inside. (I have a restroom and shower on Midna.)
So I can’t review how clean it was. Sorry about that. But if the rest of the park and it’s facilities are any indication… I would guess they were as clean, if not a lot cleaner than most you’d find in a public campsite.
If you’ve not got the O2 reserves to spend the night, there was lots of parking right next to various trailheads. So you don’t have to worry about wearing yourself out or wasting oxygen before your even on the trail.
If you are on O2 or having a rough time of it post transplant, I would highly suggest you stick to the trails at the front of the park.
This area is designated as a turkey roost, so it is only open to hikers from 10am to 3pm… but the back country trails are much longer and steeper.
The trails within the turkey roost are pretty flat and level. Their is only one steep bit I saw… and Marin and I walked all the trails in this area. I was near the lake and it is easily avoided.
The nice thing about these trails is there are several different paths with frequent forks in the road. So if you run into issues, you can change up your direction and head back or just shorten your hike.
The trails were wide and clear. Just the occasional fallen branch and leaves scattered about. You needn’t worry about having to pushing aside tree limbs or trudging through thick undergrowth.
So you can leave the machete in the trunk… unless you just want to carry it. I mean Indian Jones looks cool carrying one.
If you are pulling O2 tanks behind you, I would think it would be relatively easy to do along these trails. But I am totally basing that opinion off the cart I had for my oxygen.
It basically would be like pulling it down a dirt road with the occasional bit covered in small gravel.
I think a rollator would totally be doable if you are determined to. It obviously not going to be like walking down the sidewalk, but your not going to find any huge rocks or boulders in your path.
I think the biggest issue, if you are healthy enough to be out here doing this… (talk to your doctors!) would be if the ground is wet or moist then your rollator might sink into the ground some as you rest your weight on it.
A huge bonus to the rollator would be the seat to rest on though. There are occasional benches to set and rest on. But not very many… and defiantly not as many as you’re going to want if you’re on O2.
If you’re not using a rollator, I would suggest bringing one of those little tripod seats along to rest on.
I’d be really iffy about trying the trails in a wheelchair unless it has wheels designed for rougher surfaces and you had someone healthy enough to push you.
My only experience with wheelchairs has been in the hospital (I owned a rollator) and whenever I was in one it… It was because I didn’t have the air to get me from point A to point B.
So I’m not an expert, but I know how rough it can be.
If you have someone healthy and strong enough to push you around the trails and get you through any ruts… then I think the views would be worth the effort.
But just be aware while I was here I had zero cell or internet service through my carrier at the time. (Verizon) So if something goes wrong there will have to be someone healthy enough to run to the ranger station for help.
While not as challenging as doing a lap around the park… A trail to truly test a new pair of lungs is the overlook trail.
It sounds like it is relatively short compared to the other trails at only .7 miles. Which in comparison, I guess it most certainly is.
It is steep though. Beautiful… but definitely steep.
There are some great views along the way that are worth the hike though.
Plus reaching the top will give you a great since of accomplishment.
Well… it did me anyway.
If you are on very much O2 or are having any kind of difficulty at all … I wouldn’t recommend the hiking of this trail for you.
However! I would still encourage you to see the view.
How you ask? Well the entire “trail” is actually paved and it is connected to one of the rangers service roads.
At the tippity top I found that there is in fact a small parking lot.
With… handicap parking spaces. Why would there be handicap parking spaces if only able bodied rangers could drive up there?
Because us weezy folks and others with handicaps can get our behinds drove up the hill.
Once you are at the top there is a short path to the actual observation point. It not paved, but it is wide and open. Made of packed dirt, but with some rough patches that are easily avoided. With a picnic table at the end to rest and take in the the view.
I just really enjoyed this little state park. It was clean. Has nice diversity of short and long trails. There is fishing and tubing of you’re into that. Mountain biking is allowed. Plus there is an abundance of wild life to see.
Along the various trails there are several blinds to help folks hide away and try and catch a close up glimpse of the parks inhabitants. (All the ones I saw had ramps not steps to enter.)
One bird blind has a bunch of bird feeders to watch and the area was full of cardinals when I went in.
We saw a small herd of axis deer. Which… let me tell yuh, are a lot smaller than our Hoosier white tails. Though still very pretty.
I would have liked to have gotten a picture of them, but you see… Marin was apparently less than impressed with them. As we stood there she let out the largest belch I have ever heard from a dog.
Bar none… God’s honest truth.
Those deer were gone lickity split. They wanted nothing to do with whatever demon creature had made that terrible noise.
Marin meanwhile was obviously proud of herself, gauging by the large open mouth dog smile upon her face when I looked down at her.
If you live in the area or are visiting San Antonio and are not on O2 yet, have enough for a day trip, or are doing well post transplant. I highly recommend visiting.
I don’t know about the weekends, but when I went during the week, Marin and I had the trails almost entirely to ourselves. So being around a bunch of people shouldn’t be an issue.
Your out in nature so I’d bring my hand sanitizer just in case I got some grim on me. But really; unless you purposely left up a rock or pick a flower (don’t pick the flowers) you wont come in contact with anything.
I’ve never had any issues (that I realized anyway) from pollen and dust in the air. But if you do, remember to pack a mask.
The amount of time it takes to do the trails will really very on how fast you can move and which paths you take. You really can make it as long or as short as you’d like when doing the front trails.
If you know you only good for an hour of if you’re good for all day; both should be easy to fill with beautiful scenery.
I honestly hope to make it back one day and see the trails I couldn’t squeeze in this time around.
Wow… I’ve really rambled this blog? But I think Ive covered eveything…
Soooo, I guess. The end.