Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.
Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Inks Lake State Park, Texas - Sun., May 19

San Antonio Hill Country Hikers came through again with another fun day. Bob and I left San Antonio at 7:10 a.m. and drove to Inks Lake State Park two hours directly north of us.

State Park Hwy 4 west from US 281 is a roller-coaster of a road, literally. As you crest the first hill, you can't see the bottom of the road. It is very steep. The road goes up and down a number of times, not to mention the tight 35 mph curvy section closer to the park entrance. Vehicles towing RVs and boats beware!!

The only delay in our drive was a flipped over pontoon boat by a curve near the park. The local police had one lane blocked to route cars around the accident. We could not see a tow vehicle so we're wondering what happened to it. The pontoon boat was a total loss. It was flipped up on one side, but looked like it had somersaulted as the top was crushed. This was a minor, five-minute inconvenience.

At the park entrance gate, we showed our state park pass and were given a vehicle window sticker for day use. We located the parking lot at the trailhead and waited for more people to arrive. While waiting, Bob took a nap and I met Pam, Marguerite, Mike, and Samantha who were gearing up in the parking lot.

Twenty people later we were off, walking at a good clip along the green trail to Inks Lake. The highlights of this hike were the wildflowers, the trails, lake views, expansive granite outcrops and the cacti. However, there are a lot of exposed areas, i.e., no shade. If you plan to hike here, be sure to put on sunscreen and take lots of water! Start as early in the day as possible if the temperature is going  into the 90-100 F. range.

Bob ready to roll.
Prickly pear and brown-eyed Susans.
Paul leading the pack.
Pink granite and yellow stonecrop.
The geology around Inks Lake dates back millenia and showcases pre-Cambrian pinkish granite-like metamorphic rock called Spring Valley Gneiss which was formed from re-crystallized sedimentary rock. The sparkles in the rock come from feldspar minerals. Throughout our hike, we crossed large areas of gneiss with the lovely little yellow stonecrop succulents living in the vernal "pools." These succulents thrive in limestone, sandstone and granite. The yellow stonecrop lives in the vernal (spring) depressions in the rock to absorb and use moisture stored in the pools.
Yucca fireworks (with brown-eyed Susans).
Yellow stonecrop.
The trail is rated moderate. You must keep an eye out for rocks and roots on the trail. Hiking poles would be a good trail aid at this park.

Paul took us to the top of a granite outcropping. The view of Inks Lake was great from this viewpoint.

Find your own way to the top.
Top of the hill.
View of the lake and dam from the top of the granite hill.
Here are photos from this part of the hike.

Amanda removing stickers from Lucky.
Consulting the map...where are we anyway?
Hill Country Hikers hitting their stride.
I want to go there, and we did.
Lovely wildflower (rose gentian/Texas star) all by itself.
Texas paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa)
Inks Lake State Park landscape.
Bull nettle (Cnidoscolus texanus)
The trail wound up, around, over, down, and through rocks.
Cool rock.
Yours truly on the rocks.
...and Bob rockin' out.
I wasn't kidding about lots of rocks!
Spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata)
Pencil cactus with bright red berries.
If you ever watched the old TV series, the Addams Family, you will recognize the following...
Cousin Itt cactus (my name for it)
More Inks Lake landscapes.
Natural xeriscaping (dry landscaping).
This cactus is cheering for us, "You can do it!"
I LOVE this little white lace cactus. The star design is gorgeous.
The brown-eyed Susans were up to our thighs.
Hey, for once I'm ahead of the pack!
With 5.9 miles under our belts, we drove to another part of the park for a picnic lunch and a one mile hike to Devil's Waterhole swimming area. The weather was hot and humid. Bob could hardly wait to get in the swimmin' hole. I sat in the shade, took photos, and avoided ants and mosquitoes.

Visitor to our picnic area.
Lizard on the rocks.
Winecup flower under spotted beebalm.

Swimming hole, too stagnant for Bob and others in our group.
Scenery by the trail. Our group did not swim here.
Bob negotiating the rocks at Devil's Waterhole to climb higher.
Bob said the rocks were very slippery! He had to be very careful.

As you can see in the photo below, Bob enjoyed the jump into refreshing lake water. After Bob's first jump, a large group of people arrived who were drinking beer, smoking and being obnoxious. The young men of the group climbed to the top of the large rocks and leapt out over the lower rocks for more of a rush. I'm happy I did not witness anyone hitting the rocks on their way down! We left shortly after.

[An aside: At some Oregon swimming holes, people die or become quadriplegic after hitting rocks trying to jump from too high. One swimming hole in Oregon, High Rocks, had to close to public swimming because drunk people were climbing the trees on the cliffs and trying to jump out far enough to miss the rocks. If they didn't hit the rocks on the way down, they hit the rocks under the water. Sad.]

People jumping from the rocks above where most
people dive. Bob is 6' tall, so we can guess these
taller rocks add another 20' in elevation to the jump.
Photo below is Bob jumping from the safer (lower) height. To the left in the photo, you can see the edge of the bottom of the rocks above.

Bob launching himself into the air.
Bob hitting the water (bottom left).
Okay kids, don't try this at home. Bob grew up in Hawaii and has been jumping off cliffs into the water since he was seven or eight years old.

With Bob refreshed and reinvigorated, we headed about a quarter mile back to the car and called it a day. As we drove toward US 281, we stopped so I could take a photo of a castle on the hill. We had no idea what it was, so I Googled it. You can read about Falkenstein Castle here.

The photos on their website do it more justice.
Bob wanted to know how Inks Lake got its name so I Googled that too. Inks Lake was named for Roy Inks, a Llano businessman and mayor, who worked on funding to build a dam on the Colorado River to provide power. The funding of the dam became an obsession for Inks which resulted in him being named Director of the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). He died before the dam was completed. Because of his efforts in securing monies for the dam, the lake was named after him, along with the dam.

We stopped on the way home for dinner. In the evening we watched 60 Minutes and The Discovery Channel's North America.

Travel Bug out.


  1. As always, I love your pics. That cactus does look exactly like Cousin It.

    Wow...the castle. I hadn't ever heard of it. I went to Neuschwanstein in Germany but my husband didn't bring me back and build one for me. I feel cheated.

  2. I think Kevin and I hiked that same rock last summer! Inks Lake is such a beautiful area!

  3. Replies
    1. Definitely a great hike. The wildflowers and cacti in Texas are so diverse. Joining the hiking group was a great thing to do. We are seeing so much.

  4. Great State Park. I really enjoyed the pictures. I have been there in my younger days!

  5. Great pictures! I'm looking at family resorts in Texas and at things that we can do to fill our days while we're out there and someone else mentioned Inks Lake State Park which brought me here :) I like the adventure aspect of it all. I also would love to check out that castle, I would have never guessed that was in Texas!


Please let me know what you think, your experiences, and constructive criticism to make this blog stronger.