On the Trails at Brazos Bend State Park


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Now that we’ve entered the non-camping zone of summer, I am now looking back at our second to last camping trip of the season. In early May we went to Brazos Bend State Park; it was warming up but it wasn’t unbearable quite yet. Thanks to the shady campsite we had, we were able to stay a little cool in the middle of the day by lounging in the tent. Our last camping trip, to the LCRA Matagorda Nature Park was the opposite of that—hot, sticky, no shade.

At Brazos Bend there really is a plethora of things to do and it is probably one of the more popular parks in our region due to its accessibility to Houston. Also: there are alligators. I mean, there are alligators in many places in southeast Texas but this is where you can see them up close, and we all know people love coming up close to animals that can eat you. I’m a little sardonic here because I think there is a very tenuous line being towed at the park with the public and alligator interface and and the public not quite grasping just how dangerous of a situation they could be in and the park not posting enough signs about harassment of alligators. That’s the Florida in me coming out. Sure, there are a few signs but not enough and not enough explicitly stating the danger. Anyway…I’ll have a separate post about our trips around the lakes. This one is about a couple of the trails we hiked, further from water.

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Asclepias virdis, green milkweed

We hit up the Horseshoe Lake and Big Creek Loops the first afternoon we were there. It wasn’t terribly hot but in the sun we started feeling the impacts of the heat fairly quickly. The three of us began wilting.

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Big Creek

Forest fell asleep somewhere down the Big Creek trail. We hadn’t put sunscreen on him and the sun ended up being rather harsh along that trail as it was more open than I was expecting. Back towards the far reaches of the park the forest thickened but on the way to and from the sun beat down on us. We glimpsed an alligator in a little pond on one side of the trail but other than the alligator and a few birds this trail was very quiet.

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Scutellaria ovata

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Forest woke up when we sat down to take a break near the trailhead. We sat in the shade getting a snack and watching the birds on the water. A few other people passed us on their way out to the Big Creek trail.

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Coreopsis

The next morning before lunch we walked the Prairie Trail near the entrance to the park. It was out in the open, being a prairie and all, and the late morning sun was beginning to heat up the trail, which consequently made us the only ones out exploring the trail. (also, no water views) I really loved this trail because there was quite a bit in bloom and a lot of butterflies as well. Butterflies were very prolific during our trip and they are getting their own post soon!

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Liatris

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Passiflora incarnata

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This trail had an abundance of passflora growing all over it which in turn attracted the gulf fritillary caterpillars.

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Solanum elaeagnifolium, silverleaf nightshade

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Don’t forget other insects like wasps are pollinators, too!

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Green milkweed seed pod

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Some kind of Helianthus??

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Yucca arkansana—probably?

The last trail we did was on our way out on Sunday morning, down the Red Buckeye Trail using small sections of the White Oak trail for access. It took us down to the river with excellent views on the bluffs! I didn’t take any photos of the river due to my use of a 100mm macro lens—who wants a closeup view of the river?

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Slightly blurry shot of Aclepias perennis, aquatic milkweed. I was manually focusing with a macro lens and was having a hard time.

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We almost squished this guy—he will reappear in the butterflies/caterpillars post I do because I haven’t identified him yet.

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Matelea gonocarpos, angular fruit milkvine

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Rhus copallinum

I really enjoyed this particular area of the park and would love to explore more of the park on the back portion towards the river. It is definitely not nearly as busy as the front of the park—where the alligators are!

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