Colorado Bend State Park has several trails that I have never hiked. I have been trying to check these off my list one at a time, but this park is a bit of a drive from my house (73 miles) so I can’t get to it as often as I would like. The park sits along the Colorado River as it flows through Texas (not Colorado) and there are many hiking trails to be found in the park as you can see by the map below. In the past I have mainly focused on the River Trail, Gorman Falls Trail, and Spicewood Springs Trail. On this occasion I decided to check out the Tinaja Trail, which winds around a canyon to a tinaja. A tinaja is depression in the rock that has been eroded by water.
So, late one afternoon I made time to get to the park and hiked this trail. I parked at the Cedar Chopper Loop trailhead and headed out to the Tinaja Trail. The Tinaja trail does involve some moderate climbing and the path is dirt and loose rocks, so you want to have some good shoes and watch where you step. I went on a cool evening in mid-winter so sun and heat were not an issue. The trail winds up and down some cliffs and does have a few nice overlooks. The overlook below faces to the northeast and as the trail winds around to the other side of the canyon there are overlooks facing west so there are places to plan sunrises and sunsets if you like. As you can see, the sky was mostly clear and there wasn’t going to be a dramatic sunset on this evening.
At about the mid-point of the trail you get to the tinaja for which the trail is named. It is a large pool in the rocks. The water looked shallow and quite stagnant and I don’t think that I’d recommend jumping in for a swim. It was difficult to photograph the entire tinaja at once as it is surrounded by trees and brush. I was carrying only my hiking camera (Nikon Z50) and lens and I don’t have an ultrawide option for this camera. But, below is a photo standing behind a park sign facing north. The area is in full shade as sunset is nearing.
There were no other people around but I was not quite alone. I heard some vultures making whatever you call the sound they make in a nearby tree. They didn’t seem to be concerned with me and stood their perch as I changed lenses and took a few photos. They eventually decided that I wasn’t about to die and flew away.
I continued up the trail to an overlook facing west so I could see what a sunset would look like. I didn’t expect anything spectacular, but I was more interested in scouting the location for a future outing. The tinaja is down in the valley to the right. The below photo is a merge of several handheld images at different exposures to capture everything in the very contrasted scene. As you can see, the sky wasn’t great, but this might be a nice location for another evening. The cliff drops straight down past these plants and rocks.
I still had yet to see another person on this evening and I continued down the trail. When I had glanced at the map earlier I thought I could take another trail that would loop back to where I started, but that is not correct. There is another trail but it goes to a spring, so I ended up hiking all the way down to the River Trail and then back up the Old Gorman Road Trail to get back to the parking lot. By the time I was on Old Gorman Road Trail it was getting too dark to see the ground well enough to walk without stumbling so I had to shine my phone light on the ground in front of me. I eventually made it back to my car in the dark with stars in the sky after nearly 5 miles of hiking . If I go back out for a sunset photo, I will remember to pack my head-lamp and more carefully plan my way back out.
Maybe next time I’ll check out the Tie Slide Trail and Windmill Trail. Thanks for reading.