I wrote all about our first visit to Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge here. Last weekend, we returned to hike the longest trail there, the Meadow Pond Trail. At 2.85 miles one way, the hike would be just shy of 6 miles. The path leads past Deaver Pond and Meadow Pond to the end and back. According to the Hagerman website, the trail is “Located near the Big Mineral Day Use Area at the west end of Wildlife Drive. Situated on the old KATY Rail bed, this trail hosts a variety of habitats, including shallow ponds, farm fields, forests, and bottomland hardwoods. Wading birds, turkey, deer, squirrel, and numerous species of sparrows are often seen along the route. The surface is gravel, and may be your best bet for a hike after a rain.”
Our now constant hiking partners, the SS family, joined us. We first drove past the wetlands to introduce them to the birds and the area, then moved to the Big Mineral Day Use area, where we parked the car and walked across to the trailhead. Past the turnstile, we came across a tree-sheltered, completely flat path with gravel. The entire hiking path we went on remained flat and easy to hike. There were small off-road paths on both sides that we didn’t explore. A half-mile into the trail, we came across Deaver Pond, which I had posted about last time. In the morning sun, the chirping of birds, and a few falcons in flight, high above, added to the place’s serenity. As mentioned above, the trail lies on the old railway bed. The Mineral Creek flows on the north side of the path. Far south, beyond the pond, we saw a set of railway tracks.
There are mile markers along the way. Just before the two-mile mark, we came across Meadow Pond. Significantly larger than Deaver, the pond was filled with dried leaves of American lotus plants. There were no flowers at this time but I have read that in summer they make this pond look spectacular. So many of them, filling up almost the entire pond. Although we heard bird song in the surrounding trees, we didn’t come across any wading birds in the pond.
Continuing on, close to the 2.5-mile mark, we were talking about wild hogs in the area. And right then, we came across a baby hog that took one look at us and ran away. Alerted to the presence of hogs in the area, some of which can be feral, we walked quietly and cautiously. Further down the road, our friends spotted a couple of large hogs that turned and headed back into the forests on the south side of the trail. Knowing that they can be dangerous, we decided to skip the rest of the hike and headed back. I have read that further ahead, the old and new railway tracks come together, and there’s a small creek to explore. Perhaps, next visit, we can make it to the end.
For nature lovers, this a great trail to explore. The forest and trees, the ponds, fields, the creek come together to create a varied and exciting route. We didn’t see any other animals or birds, other than the hogs and the falcons, but we heard plenty in the trees. The rustling of the leaves in the wind added yet another sensory treat. We were the only four people on the trail. However, we didn’t feel lonely. Nature in all her glory, swayed, rustled, grunted and flew around us.
Back at the parking lot, we piled in and drove to the Crow Hill trail. It took us another 20 minutes to complete it. The trail wasn’t quite as magical, in the midmorning light, as the week before when we walked at the golden hour. Still, the silence of the area, the solitude, and the quiet workings of avian and arboreal life all around kept pace with us on this trail.
There are three other trails that we haven’t explored yet and we hope to get to them in the near future.