North Shore Bell's Trailhead to Cougar Outlook and back
By MikeHikes on 5/16/2019
Distance: 9.60 Miles Duration: 4 hours, 20 minutes
Out Bell's Trailhead > Shady Trail > Trailhead to Trailhead (S) > North Scenic Loop > South Slick Rock > Lower Ghost Camp Trail > River Bend Camp Area > Lower Ghost Camp Trail (S) > service road (50 meters) > River Bend (100 meters) > Javalina > Cougar Outlook 3.5 miles
Return Cougar Outlook > service road (W) > River Bend (NW) > Badlands > service road (N 50 meters) > Dinosaur Trail (N) > Dinosaur Tracks Viewing Area > Dinosaur Trail (N) > service road (N) > Bell's Trailhead 6.1 miles
Temp started at 69, ended at 80. Overcast then partly cloudy with light to intermittent winds.
I hiked this in reverse order than I normally do and have decided I'll do it the way I'm used to for future hikes. The trails were dry with some spots wet with morning dew. The majority of the trails have been groomed and leveled fairly recently but there are a few areas that are in dire need of grooming, specifically the South Slick Rock Trail and the portion of Lower Ghost Camp Trail that is below the River Bend Camp Area. Vegetation is very high and in a few places, the trail was not visible.
The water continues to flow in the North Concho River but no water fowl were seen in the wet areas. As a matter of fact, not many birds were spotted today while I hiked. I saw a couple of Whitetail deer, numerous park longhorns and a pair of javalinas. I startled the javalinas as I walked past them hidden in the brush; one became pretty agitated so I continued my hike at a slightly brisker pace until we had some distance between us.
The flowers still display their colors and the butterflies are very numerous. I find it ironic when I hear, or read, about locals who will drive for hours so they can "see flowers" yet they won't drive a few minutes/miles to the park, get out of their car, walk the trails and see more flowers than they would from their car as it whizzes down the road.
One interesting, and sad, find - a lone cicada was on Javalina Trail and seemed to be on his/her last legs. I assume it hatched too early and will, unfortunately, die a lonely death as I've neither seen, nor heard, any other cicadas.
It was a good hike although not what I had hoped for with regard to picture taking.
Water and shade available at the camping area near Bell's Trailhead.
Water, shade, info kiosk and dry toilets available at River Bend Camping Area.
Shade, info kiosk and a bicycle repair station available at Cougar Outlook.
Shade and info kiosk available at Dinosaur Tracks Viewing Area. IMPORTANT - the water faucet has been turned OFF and I have no idea if/when it will be turned on again - the problem has been reported to park personnel.