North Shore Park Extension
By MikeHikes on 4/18/2019
Distance: 6.10 Miles Duration: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Route - Park at the restrooms by the North Shore entrance then exit the park on foot and cross FM2288. You will see a swinging gate that grants access to the park. Round trip mileage is 6 miles.
Temps in the low 70's, partly cloudy then sunny, with fairly strong N by NW winds.
Once or twice a year, I hike this route which does not follow a named trail; instead, the trail is an old dirt road which fades into a single dirt trail as you walk deeper into the park. There are numerous cow/animal trails crisscrossing the entire section of the park, nonetheless, the trail can be found if you look for it. The trail ends at the fence line of a house on private property. I recommend you come back the same way although you can follow another trail that runs parallel to the original trail for about 1/2 mile before you have to cut back to the original trail.
The main trail runs roughly parallel to the North Concho River - this river feeds into O.C. Fisher Reservoir located in the main section of the park. It is recommended you stay on the North side of the river since private property runs along the river on the South side. Additionally, the north side also has more trees and vegetation than the south side. Depending on the time of year, the vegetation may be thicker and higher than you'd expect. There are usually numerous members of the park's longhorn herd in the area so be aware of them - they'll leave you alone if you leave them alone.
As to the hike itself - this is one of the better hikes at the park to see birds you don't normally see elsewhere in the park due to the proximity of the river, the amount of shade trees and large swatches of grass and flowers. Being west Texas, the river may or may not have water in it (it has quite a bit of water at the moment) which will affect the number and variety of birds you'll see.
Ducks, Great Blue Herons, a Crested Caracara, Kingbirds, Vermillion Flycatchers, Western Bluebirds as well as sparrows, house finches and other birds were seen. No animals besides the longhorn cattle were spotted and I saw my first reptile of the year - a lizard.
The trail was overgrown with vegetation but fairly easy to hike on. I made numerous forays along animal trails to the river as I looked for birds. Some of these trails led to overlooks of the river, others took me to the river itself. Caution is advised because these trails are NOT MAINTAINED and, some that go to the river, are fairly steep and slippery with loose dirt.
Before going on the hike, I STRONGLY RECOMMEND you talk to park personnel to ensure the area is open to hiking since it is sometimes closed due to hunting when other portions of the park are still open. Additionally, it doesn't hurt to let them know you plan to be there hiking.
I recommend you look at this portion of the park using Google Earth (imagery is listed as 2019). If the imagery date is correct, the photos were taken in January or February since the trail is easily seen and not obscured by vegetation.
Water, info kiosk and toilets available at the North Shore entrance (where you should park). THERE IS NO WATER OR SANITARY FACILITIES AVAILABLE ON THE ROUTE. Make sure you take plenty of water and bring your own paper in case "nature calls".