Twists and Turns at Bonham State Park

Twists and Turns at Bonham State Park

My October visit to Bonham State Park was bittersweet; on the one hand, it rained hard the first day and my hiking boots tore up and my rain-jacket turned out to be only weather resistant and the trails were weird, man.

But on the other hand, I had a nice time with a great group of campers from a local Meetup. My camping meals are usually snacky and–well, let’s say utilitarian (I eat a lot of surplus MREs)–but on this trip I was blessed with an abundance of real, hot food from many generous people, along with good conversation and a cheery atmosphere. It really helped, as the rest of my Bonham experience was kind of a wet mess.

I went for a hike soon after setting up camp; it was raining and my boots tore up, as mentioned, and filled with water. The trail–the Gnarly Root trail, –was covered, in most places, with the stickiest grey mud I’ve ever encountered. It packed into the tread of my shoes like cement; it formed a crust all around my boots that quickly built up, heavier and heavier (I’m pretty sure this is what finally ripped off the soles.) Scraping the mud off was futile–the only time I saw it easily release was when I was walking and great big gobs of the stuff would detach from my boot and coat the back of my legs.

None of the signs I saw referenced the Gnarly Root trail by name–they all said things like “M-3” and “A-5” and had little bicycle symbols. My trail map did not use these symbols, although it didn’t become a problem till the next day when I went for a hike on the Bois d’Arc trail.

It had stopped raining by then, although I made the mistake of walking through a patch of wet grass and instantly resoaking the insides of my boots. I then proceeded to get lost–really lost!–on the bizarre hairball of trails that make up the Bois d’Arc. The M-whatever signs were no help, and there were no other markers. Just when I think I’d pieced together the only possible spot I could be based on the map and nearny landmarks, the trail would unexpectedly fork. There are also only two CCC points of interest marked on the trail map in that area, but I found at least five different things that they might have been referring to.

So I was lost, but not scary lost. The entire Bois d’Arc trail is only 2.7 miles, and maybe half of that is the tangled-up bit where I got stuck. I eventually got out by following voices and found a couple of other hikers by the road who said they had also gotten turned around. Other than being completely bewildering it was a fine trail, with only a few steep parts and a lot of lovely lush, green moss in the trees. If my feet had been dry I would have enjoyed getting a little lost out there.

The Lake Loop and Armadillo trails were much more straightforward; the former was flat with cute little bridges here and there and led to a few nice spots by the shore, and the latter was gently sloped and often covered with crushed bricks.

Although I was cold and wet for most of it, my trip to Bonham State Park definitely had some high points. I saw several spiderwebs slung across the trails, all with the same kind of orb-weaver hanging on them, and I was eventually able to take a really decent photo of one–my favorite shot of the trip. In terms of composition I feel like my photography took a step forward at Bonham.

I also enjoyed the truly delicious labors of a Dutch oven presentation, held by some of the park rangers outside in the main day use area. Bonham seems like a really great park for day users, with its small, tidy lake and an abundance of covered picnic tables.

I’d like to return to Bonham State Park, with better gear or at least better weather. The facilities were clean, the park rangers were great and I choose to view the trails–now that I’m not standing out in the middle of them in wet socks–as a fun challenge. I give Bonham 3 out of 5 stars, and will bump up the rating if somebody will go out there and set out a couple of usable trail signs for us directionally-challenged hikers. No regrets! The Texas State Park system, once again, provided me a weekend of healthy physical activity, great memories and interesting photo opportunities.

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Jamie Payne

Jamie Payne

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