Thursday, July 28, 2005

Mission Hike and Bike Trail

The Mission Hike and Bike Trail is one of the best additions to the city parks for exercising. The trail is 5 miles long from the parking lot to the World Birding Center/Bentsen Park. The trail is largely built on top of trails that were used by local mountain bikers. The original trails are mostly destroyed, but the asphalt makes taking the trail much easier. In fact, a dominating feature of the old trails were the acres and acres of prickly pear cactus. Ouch! If you travel the trail both ways, you will have hiked or biked 10 miles. You will find hikers, bikers, and runners at the trails daily.

Mile 1 is marked by a lone palm tree. Mile 2 is right after the first bridge. Mile 3 is a bit after the second bridge. Mile 4 is along Military Rd. And, the 5th Mile is at the end of the trail.

One important note is that our South Texas Summers are extremely hot and humid. Unless you specifically set out to suffer, try to visit the park before 9 am or after 5 pm. There is no shade on the trail and the trees are tall enough to block any breeze. Also, bring plenty of water if you intend to travel the entire trail. There are no facilities available for you to get water.

There is more to the park than just the trail. The trail is actually a part of the Mission Nature Park. The park is covered in brush and mesquite trees. Up on the levee, the trees are a bit taller and provide more shade. As most of the park is wild, you have the opportunity to see local fauna. You'll see the occasional jack rabbit, ground squirrel, chachalaca, or coyote. During the Winter season, you may also see cranes and other birds wading through the drainage canal that the first bridge crosses. You will also see other migratory birds. As the trees grow taller, we will no doubt see more creatures inhabiting the park.

So, if your interest is fitness or the observation of nature, the Mission Nature Park with it's Hike and Bike Trail are sure to please you. Thanks to the improvements, hiking or running the trails is easier and biking yields fewer flat tires. Be sure to visit.
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