Saturday, October 27, 2018

Tyler State Park

A few posts ago I lamented "What a month" or something similar. Part of what made it such a busy month was visiting my parents in Forney, TX. It was a really quick trip. I drove over on Sunday Sep 30, spent 3 days with them, and drove back the following Thursday.

As Tyler is directly between Forney and Atlanta (about 1.5 hours in to the return journey), I figured I'd get a ride in at the park there on the way back. My Dad was able to join me too, and it turned out to be a pretty good ride.

We parked at the Blackjack Lot, which I recognized from the one other time I'd ridden there, literally 20 years ago.

Blackjack Lot

The lot is actually called the Blackjack Campground Lot. The campground being a ring of parking spaces with trailer hook-ups around that little island with the pavilion there. The bathrooms are across the lot from that ring. We parked along the edge near the bathrooms. It was a little weird though. There are no designated parking spots along the edge, but I didn't want to consume a trailer spot. I guess we did the right thing. The lady at the gate said we should park there.

Anyway, the trailhead was back down the road a little, so we rode back to it and hit the loops. The system is basically a set of stacked-loops, creatively named Loop EZ, Loop A, Loop B, Loop C, and Loop D. I remembered that they get progressively more technical and steep as you go, but I didn't remember much in the way of detail.

Dad at Tyler

I must have ridden it at a different time of year last time too because this time, there was Beautyberry everywhere.


I mean, everywhere. There was like 1000 times more than I'd ever seen in my entire life combined. If it had been there the last time, I'd have remembered.

The singletrack was about like this, pretty much everywhere:

Singletrack on A Loop


The soil was kind-of sandy and looked like historically, it had been prone to erosion in a few spots. There were former routes here and there, but the current route looked pretty solid. In a lot of places the trail was pine-needly too, and it was really solid in those sections.

It was almost impossible to get lost.

Trail Markers

Almost. The intersection between B and C was missing its signage. The posts were there, but the actual markers were missing.

Loops EZ, A, and B were really nice. Loop C was super technical. Like dozens of switchbacks composed entirely of big gnarly pine roots. It reminded me of Clear Springs, except that there were rock gardens all over the place too. If I lived there, I'd probably do multiple laps of EZ, A, and B, and just throw in C and D occasionally.

By the time we got to loop D, we were tired enough of how slow and technical C was that we didn't even ride it. That suited me fine though, as I really needed to get on the road.

We did take a quick drive through the park on the way out to see if anything else was interesting. There's a lake in the middle of the park, fed by Beauchamps Springs near the gate, but that was about it. There's a road called CCC Overlook (the park was built by the CCC) which I assumed would provide a nice view of the lake, but any overlooking that you might once have been able to do has long been obscured by the recovering forest. It struck me as odd that it's even still called an overlook.

On the way to the highway, I drove past Bodacious BBQ.

Bodacious BBQ Bodacious BBQ Sign

It looked so authentic that as I was turning left onto the interstate I changed my mind, made a full U-turn, and drove back to the restaurant.

They don't serve fries ("This isn't McDonalds") but they do serve you a 2 pound pile of meat and offer multiple sauces, the bottles of which are stored in warm water, so that cold sauce doesn't suck any of the warmth or flavor out of your 2 pounds of meat. Man it was good. So good that I'm looking forward to next time, even though I can't imagine offhand when that will be.

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