2018  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

Starr's Mill and Lake, Peachtree City, GA

 

   
 
Runtrails' Web Journal
 
Previous       2018 Journal Topics       Home       Next
 

   OVERNIGHT STOP AT SOUTH LLANO RIVER 
STATE PARK NEAR JUNCTION, TX

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14

 
"Situated on the pristine spring-fed South Llano River, the park offers several miles    
of hiking and biking trails, water-based recreation and wildlife watching.
Formerly a working ranch, South Llano River State Park is home to  
one of the largest Rio Grande turkey roosts in central Texas."
 
~ from one of the park brochures
 
 
I mentioned in the previous entry that it has become increasingly difficult for us to make spontaneous decisions about where we're going to stay when we travel in our RV.

Our decision to stop overnight at this Texas state park is an anomaly based on a poor weather forecast for the place we originally planned to spend the night -- a Walmart parking lot farther to the west..

While we were at Brazos Bend State Park we heard that a cold front with high winds from the west was expected along our route through southern Texas today. Since warnings were issued for tall vehicles on I-10, we had to decide whether to stay longer at Brazos Bend or drive fewer miles today.


South Llano River near the park entrance

While researching our options I noticed another state park that isn't too far off the freeway, about 300 miles west of Houston.

That certainly sounded better than our original plan to drive more than 500 miles today. After looking at the park's website, I called to see if any sites were available tonight (campgrounds are usually more full on weekends). The ranger said yes.

Since we really wanted to continue forward, we aimed for this park a few miles south of Junction. Although we were driving into a headwind with gusts of perhaps 20-30 MPH we didn't have any trouble with the Cameo on the freeway. We would have stopped earlier if wind was a problem.

CAMPGROUND INFORMATION

South Llano River State Park is located near the southwestern edge of Texas' scenic "Hill Country." Driving across Texas on I-10 the terrain becomes increasingly hilly and more scenic west of San Antonio. The park is about ten miles south of Junction.

We checked in at the campground in mid-afternoon and had our choice of more than half of the 58 RV sites with water and 30-amp electrical hookups. A dump station is located at the beginning/end of the campground loop. Our fee was only $20/night with our Texas state park pass. 

We picked a large, rather secluded site at the end of the loop that was easy for Jim to back into:

This is a very nice campground with lots of trees. Our site was flat and spacious, with plenty of room to walk the dogs in our grassy "yard." It was shaded on two sides by several large trees and shrubs.

RV pads are pea gravel; each site has a nearby covered picnic table on a concrete pad:

Since the temperature got down to 27 F. overnight we didn't hook up the water. Jim put 30 gallons of fresh water in our tank and we just used our onboard water pump. Although it was sunny and in the 50s during the afternoon it felt much colder with all the wind.

The park is in a river valley surrounded by hills. Our only complaint about staying here was not having an internet signal with our Verizon mobile hotspot for our phones or laptop computers or any TV reception with our RV antenna.

Since we stayed only one night it wasn't a big deal, but for that reason I doubt we'll stop there on our way back home.

PARK ACTIVITIES

This is a relatively new state park. All the land was donated to the state of Texas by the Buck family in the 1980s. All the old buildings remain from this once-busy farm, including several houses and barns used for various purposes -- raising cattle, sheep, goats, and pecans.

The next two pictures show a cluster of buildings. One of the older houses is used for the visitor center/office where we checked in:

 

On my walk, I took pictures of a picturesque old barn that was used for sheep-shearing:

 

It is along the park entrance road and near one of four different bird blinds I saw:

The bird blinds have rooms (above) from which to watch birds
rest and feed in a yard full of trees and water (below).

There are about 25 miles of hiking and cycling trails in the park, ranging from easy to difficult.

Some of the paths that are closest to the campground and the easiest to walk are through fields that are roosting areas for turkeys. From October to March these trails are open only from 10 AM to 3 PM. We arrived too late to walk in those fields:

 


Sign about the roosting turkeys near the river

This park is one of the state's oldest and largest Rio Grande turkey roosts. Up to 800 turkeys live here during the winter. They roost in the trees at night and are easily disturbed; hence, the limited hours visitors are allowed on trails through that area in winter.

The turkeys breed in the spring and the hens leave for nesting sites elsewhere to raise their young.

This picture of a turkey tom and hen are from the park's website. We didn't see any turkeys during our visit.

In addition to the turkeys, about 220 other species of birds have been spotted in the park.

Although we didn't see any turkeys during our short visit to this park we did see several kinds of birds and some armadillos along the entrance road and path that follows it:

We also saw a lot of white-tailed deer and handsome black bucks that look like antelope with twisted horns as we drove into the park on Friday:

I saw dozens of the deer and bucks when I walked out to the river just before sunset. They kept darting across the road in front of me but not close enough to take good photos of them.

After we got set up in our campsite we took the dogs out for a four-mile walk in and near the campsite and out toward the river. I continued along the entrance road on an adjacent pea-gravel path to the river so I could take some pictures of it:

 

 

 

In addition to camping, hiking, photography, and watching wildlife, other activities you can do at South Llano State Park include cycling, star gazing (it's a dark-sky park), fishing, paddling/floating, and geo-caching. The spring-fed river has reportedly never run dry.

Hiking and biking trails range from easy in the lowlands to rugged on backcountry ridges.

Check out the park's official website for additional camping, recreational, and historical information, including maps.

Next entry:  a fun week at a new campground for us, Lost Dutchman State Park in Arizona

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, Casey, and Holly-pup

Previous       Next

2018 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

-