Preliminary Trail Ride

May 31 - June 1, 2013

by Redhorse

A half dozen rigs pulled in after 2:00 PM at the Palo Pinto Mountains State Park Headquarters (PPMSP) on Friday, May 31, 2013.   After setting up camp and surveying the area some, they headed to Mary's Cafe in Strawn for supper.  Mary's is an icon; perhaps THE icon for now, for Strawn, Texas, as a popular place to eat.  Later, about sunset, a few of us drove up to an elevated site to view the alignment of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter. Due to a band of low clouds, we just saw a pretty sunset.  The railroad is the northern boundary of this park, and according to Superintendent Ferguson, at least 20 trains pass by daily.

The news about this new State Park wasn't as widespread as folks thought.  This writer knew about it about two weeks prior to this trailride.  Some background on the Park follows:    

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department acquired the property for the park in October, 2011, using funds from the sale of Eagle Mountain Lake State Park in Fort Worth a few years ago. Since the sale of that property the Parks & Wildlife Department had been looking for a suitable location within easy driving distance of Fort Worth, and was fortunate that this property became available. It was acquired with assistance from the Nature Conservancy. The state purchased the property for the price of 7.14 million dollars, or about $2,142 per acre.

The property is currently completely undeveloped. This site was formerly a ranch owned by the Copeland family, and will need extensive work before it can be formally opened to the public.

The park is in the Western Cross Timbers Ecoregion, a designation given to us by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The park property is home to various types of trees, including live oak, blackjack oak, Texas oak, post oak, Texas ash, prickly ash or tickle-tongue, cedar elms, and of course mesquite and cedar and ash juniper. And of course our wonderful native pecan trees.

The timing of the spring rains dictate the mix of the beautiful wildflower crop. There are some bluebonnets, an abundance of Indian blanket, prickly poppy, coreopsis, soft golden aster, and bluebells, among others. And acres and acres of prickly pear with their beautiful yellow blossoms, and the fruit that follows soon after.

There is a good bit of little bluestem and sideoats grama, the State Grass of Texas.

Wildlife observers in the park will see such animals as white tailed deer, turkey, raccoons, waterfowl, squirrels, and various small mammals and a variety of songbirds. There is evidence of feral hogs also. Fish found in the park include bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill and sunfish.

There were twenty-seven trailriders, including Park Superintendent John Ferguson, ride out Saturday morning at 9:00 A.M. The weather was overcast and breezy; making for a great day for riding.  A couple of riding organizations that this writer is a founding member of were represented; North Texas Range Riders (NTRR) and Texas Equestrian Trail Riders Association (TETRA).  Some local equestrians also participated in the ride. We covered twelve (12) miles of trails which included a lunch break at the Strawn Park.  We were taken along the crest of hills where landmarks and scenery were pointed out.  The rolling hills and scattered ponds make this a prime equestrian trail area. 

Following the ride, several riders gathered at the shaded hood of Superintendent Ferguson's truck to discuss the days activities.  With a good map, our route of the day was pointed out and discussion was held regarding short and long term goals and a work day was scheduled. Everyone headed home with the pleasure of having participated and realizing what a wonderful State Park it will be when it opens to the public.





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