Continuing with our day-trips out to local state parks, both Kris and I traveled to the outskirts of Moody, TX to visit Mother Neff State Park. As you may already know, almost all parks reopened this last week with social distancing measures in place and the strongest of recommendations for visitors to wear face coverings. An aside, can you imagine trying to hike in 90-100 degree weather with a surgical mask on your face? I’m sorry, but that is a level of BS I am not willing to accept. Kris and I did meet the requirement half-way and brought our face masks and kept them handy in the event that we did happen upon other visitors to the park who were wearing masks. In the event of seeing someone coming down-trail with masks affixed we would be prepared to dawn ours in the appropriate fashion and thus prevent the spread of Covid-19 and do our part to “flatten the curve.”
With that said, we arrived at the park just past 8am and flashed our pre-printed-day-pass (grammatically haphazard… I know) to the woman at the main gate and proceeded down Park Road 14c to our desired parking space somewhere near the genesis of Tower Trail and Prairie Loop. I’ll be the first to admit that I overestimated the “size” of this park. I had poured over the maps the evening prior and found that the park was in fact quite small and that it would likely take a leisurely three hours to complete all the trails and capture photos and memories. The park itself is a little over 250 acres and has about 4 miles of walking trails in total. The trails themselves are very easy to traverse, and with the exception of some “steps” and small “water crossings,” are perfect for children of all ages and sizes.
One of the features about Mother Neff State Park that I admired the most would have to be the accessibility of the main attractions to visitors. For instance, the “Cave Trail” features a large cave shelter (where native Americans in years past used to retreat too after a days foraging) that can be reached by a convenient trailside parking lot that has stairs leading to the caves entrance. Additionally, there is a small granite “table-top” and civilian conservation corps tower that can be reached almost as easily.
Both Kris and I had arrived at park’s opening and there were already several other visitors and families (none of whom were wearing masks) on trail at all the aforementioned sites. For those of you who know Kris and I, you know that we do not have children and it would be a cold day in hell if we ever did. Saying that, we always enjoy seeing little ones on trail. It is always fun to see parents chasing after them and trying to keep them from hurtling down the side of a ravine or into a patch of vibrantly potent poison ivy. In fact, on one of our city trips to San Antonio, Kris saved a little boys life who was about to meander off the side of a path and into the water along the Paseo Del Rio. Anyway, that is a different tale altogether, it is always fun to see little ones on trail for a number of reasons…
After we completed the more family friendly trails and sites in the southern portion of the park, we crossed the main road over to the “Pond Trail” and “Prairie Loop.” This flat prairie trailhead leads to a small pond that was so still and peaceful you could see the reflections of the sky, clouds and trees upon its surface. I cannot even begin to tell you how calm and peaceful this place was. I think both Kris and I relaxed here for about thirty minutes or until we heard a parade of children and families headed our way. I always love the vigor of “city-dweller-hikers.” Hearing the noise of this family we determined it was time to leave and visit the “Prairie Loop,” so we gathered up our things and proceeded down-trail toward that portion of the park. Upon leaving the pond and rounding the corner, we crossed paths with the “city-dweller-hikers.” I do not want to come off like a jerk so I’m just going to key on one thing and then move on. What the heck do you need with Black Diamond Alpine trekking poles on a flat pond and prairie trail? I get how some folks over-buy when they have a new hobby or whatever, but this guy, oh my God. I could go on and on… but I will simply say I will forever refer to him as a “Mother Neff’er!” Anyway, I wanted to take a discreet picture of him but thought better of it. Anyway, you’ll see some images of the pond area below, I just want you to imagine someone geared up for the Continental Divide Trail and imagine that person on this terrain…
Moving right along, Kris and I made our way over to the “Prairie Loop” and took a leisurely stroll stopping along the way to capture images of the flowers and general beauty of the park. I have to say this was a very pleasant surprise as I had never really spent much time in a prairie landscape in Central Texas. The amount of wildflowers and butterflies was incredible. I attempted to catch some images (not butterflies, that would have been a sight…) of the landscape but since it was so bright and my settings were askew it really doesn’t do the landscape justice.
After wrapping up our visit we looped back to our parking spot along the main road. I suspect that every parking space was full because there was a lot of traffic circling. I suspect that Mother Neff State Park is not a very well kept secret, especially since parks have reopened and cabin fever has undoubtedly set in for many Central Texas residents. I can’t imagine that we will return to this park as there are so many others we want to visit and I feel like we got the most out of it that we could. Having said that, it is an excellent park to visit (especially for a young family) and I would highly recommend it for photography enthusiasts. I should also mention that the park has a very interesting history that you can read about here.
Oh and by the way, we saw one elderly couple wearing face-masks and you would be happy to know that we slipped our masks on prior to crossing their path. Stay safe and be well everyone!