The trail begins in Weatherford (because I'm egocentric) and runs 20 miles westward through the countryside and Lake Mineral Wells State Park before ending in downtown Mineral Wells. We haven't made it that far, but we continue to explore the trail, which used to be WMW & NW railway. In it's heyday, the tracks took thousands of passengers to Mineral Wells to experience the town's mineral springs. That all hit the fan in the early 1900s, and the railway was purchased by Texas & Pacific, then merged with the Missouri Pacific and eventually the Union Pacific. Around 1990, it was purchased by Mineral Wells and then abandoned. In 1998, it was opened as the trailway it is today!
And it's an awesome trailway. (Really, it is. I just need to take some pictures during the spring/summer!) It starts in Weatherford at Cartwright Park and goes through 10 miles of cattle and horse pastures, hay patches and ponds before it reaches the cute little town of Garner. My dad, Tanner and I have biked this portion of the trail, and I often drive to the trail head in Garner to walk the dogs because the Garner-eastward portion of the trail is on of my favorite. There is also a cute cafe/general store in Garner where you can get something to eat or buy 4 jugs of Gatorade, like Tanner does after we're done walking.
The trailhead in WeatherfordLast weekend, we walked a portion of the trail we'd never traveled before. We started in Garner and headed west. This portion of the trail hugged Maddux Road, which you could see from the trail most of the time. That ended up not being a big deal because it was a rural road with little traffic and lots of ranchland.
The first adventure along the was was a shanty house on the right where we heard 5 large dogs barking from about 40 feet away. That was a little freaky until we realized they were behind a wire panel that, thankfully, held, despite them all five of them jumping on it at once.
The second adventure what a black and white spotted pit bull that started following us at the trailhead and walked with us all 2 1/2 miles out and 2 1/2 miles back. We saw him for the first little while but didn't realize he was still with us until about mile 1 1/2, which kind of spooked us. Most of the time he trailed far behind and would pop into sight every once and awhile. It kind of reminded me of the movie The Hills Have Eyes. He was pretty cute, and I didn't mind him being there until on the way back, he tried to, ahem, do doggy business with Digger, who is getting a little old and stiff and who at that point, was so tuckered out that all he could do was growl and kinda sorta try to turn behind to bite the other dog. Flexibility, agility and speed are not his strongest suits at this point, which diverted a dog fight. But still, I was very offended for him and felt for his wounded pride. Tanner scared the other dog off, and for Digger's sake, we all agreed we'd never speak of it again.
Third adventure was three additional big dogs running through a field lookin' like they were up to no good. They never ended up bothering us, but after our luck with bears, we erred on the safe side and started gathering the largest sticks we could find. I ended up using mine as a walking stick, which got Tanner thinking about fashioning a walking stick with a spear mounted on the end.
The main adventure was "Dry Creek," which ended up not being totally dry. There was a cliff-encircled pond fed by the creek, which ran through a dry gap of rocks and puddles, which we were able to hop across between pond and the creek upstream.
It was a great day, and we were happy to discover that this portion of the trail was less traveled. Aside from the burgeoning dog population, we only saw one couple bicycling. We're not antisocial. It's just nice to let the dogs run loose and not have to worry about people freaking out. They're nice, but they're just so big that they scare people. Oh, and Happy likes to bark at kids. I missed that part of his human socialization. Oops. The dogs had a great time, and as cheesy as it sounds, it's a great feelings to be able to watch dogs experience pure, unrestrained joy... Minus the humping.
I run a lot on various portions of this trail, but Tanner and I have about 8 miles yet to explore, and my neighbor has invited me to go trail riding (horseback) in Mineral Wells State Park itself.
Here's a pretty cool video on the park and trail with a troooo Takes-sus park RAYger, David Owens. Oh, and the signs on the trail say NO going faster than a walk on horseback. If I ever get in trouble for running my horses, I'll site this video.
Side note on the now abandoned, infamous (for its supposed hauntings) Baker Hotel (mentioned in the video), which was a famous resort spa centered around the mineral baths: During the early 1930s, it drew celebrities like Lawrence Welk, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, JFK, Marilyn Monroe and supposedly Bonnie and Clyde to the dinky lil' town of Mineral Wells .