Out Burkett Park > Roller Coaster Trail > West Potts Creek Trail > Armadillo Ridge Trail > Turkey Creek Trail > River Bend Trail > asphalt road to Cougar Outlook 4.7 miles
Return Flintstone Trail > Playground Trail > Armadillo Ridge Trail > East Potts Creek Trail > Burkett Trail > Burkett Park 4.3 miles
This route takes you NNW along the western edge of the middle section of the park, then cuts East for a short distance before drifiting SW back to the starting point of the hike.
Enter through the South Shore gate and drive a few miles to Burkett Park where there is a parking area, water, dry toilets and an info kiosk. You will walk back up the road to the Burkett park entrance and look to the right, you'll see the signpost for Rollercoaster Trail - take it.
This trail is aptly names and is easy to follow; the only area where it is not, it at the crest about 1/2 way on the trail. The single track trail joins a dirt road which goes West. You'll follow this road and come to a three way junction - the left is a fire road, the center is the trail, the right branch takes you to an asphalt road that goes downhill. Take the center branch and Rollercoaster continues as a series of easily traversed switchbacks, the trail ends at the asphalt road you could have taken earlier. Across the road is the signpost for West Potts Creek Trail.
Follow West Potts Creek which begins as a sandy trail and ends at Armadillo Ridge Trail in rock. Armadillo Ridge trail is an easily seen trail that travels upward over rocky terrain. You will go a relatively short distance before encountering the signpost for Turkey Creek Trail which heads North.
Turkey Creek is hard packed dirt for the most part and will go through open areas, mesquite groves and the ever present prickly pear cactus. You will cross a couple of old roads but the trail signposts are clearly visible on the opposite side. I recommend if you hike, you take the routes marked "hiker and biker" since they are smoother in comparison to the "Horse and Hiker" trails. In either event, the trail ends at the same place where you will take the River Bend Trail as it continues North. At this junction, there is an info kiosk, covered table and water for humans and horses. Prior to going on this trail, I suggest you top off any water containers; it will be a few miles before you have the opportunity to again.
River Bend has many open areas while you hike. Continue on this trail until you come to the second old road where you will turn right (East). To ascertain if you are on the correct road, look to your right - Cougar Outlook is clearly visible with a covered table pavillion. This area also has an info kiosk but NO WATER. Go to the outlook and take a look!
For the return leg, you will begin at the clearly marked Flintstone Trail (sometimes called "Flintstone Village" trail). Follow this trail as it heads South then Southwest. You will cross an old asphalt road at one point. This trail also takes you to the junction of Turkey Creek and River Bend Trails where you were earlier. This time, look for the Flintstone Trail signpost and continue your hike. The end of Flintstone is across from the signpost for Playground Trail.
Playground trail wanders through mesquite groves and climbs to Bell's Point. Bell's Point has a covered table and water but no info kiosk. If you look South you can see Pulliam Point and, depending on the weather, a little further to Burkett Park which is the beginning point of this hike.
Be advised the sign for Bell's Point has a wooden sign underneath indicating this is Flintstone Trail which is INCORRECT - you are on Playground Trail. Perhaps in the future, the rangers will remove the Flintstone trail sign, perhaps not.
In any event, follow Playground Trail SW as it goes along some fingers of land and switchbacks. The path is rocky, narrow and easily seen - be aware of bicyclists as hikers have to give way to bicyclists and as I said, the trail is narrow.
Playground Trail will end and Armadillo Ridge Trail begins near the abandoned picnic area of Armadillo Ridge. Armadillo Ridge will wander a bit and ends at the (East) Potts Creek signpost. If you feel you are on the wrong path, climb to the plateau and walk to the old picnic table at the SE point, you'll see the signpost for (East) Potts Creek Trail.
East Potts Creek is an easy to walk trail and usually will provide shade through the mesquite grove. This trail ends where Burkett Trail begins. Follow Burkett Trail as it takes you around the plateau of Pulliam Point and goes back to Burkett Park.
This is the first time in a long while, I hiked on a Saturday and the park was much busier than I usually experience; hence, the Solitude rating of "3" vs my normal rating of "5" when I have the park to myself. There were four other hikers I saw but the overwhelming majority of the other trail users were mountain bikers.
The vast majority were courteous - if I had already moved off the trail, a "thank you, have a good day" salutation was given as they pedaled past. If I was unaware of them, they announced their presence while still a ways back, giving me plenty of time to move off the trail and again, pleasantries were exchanged.
Unfortunately, a few seemed to be more concerned with how quickly they could race along the trail rather than safely share the trail. During this hike, on two separate occassions, two different bicyclists almost caused a collision as they came upon me from behind and only at the last moment, did I hear their approach. In both cases, I had to jump out of the way while the bicyclist sped by, head down and legs pumping, with not a word exchanged as they passed. I feel sorry for these folks - so focused on their tires, they don't see the park. Not my idea of a good time but I pass no judgement - to each his own.
Regardless of how you traverse the trails - by horse, bike or on foot, please watch out for your fellow nature lovers and share the trails safely.
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