Being a native West Virginian and new to the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, I was homesick for the hills, mountains and woodlands I used to hike in the state parks and forests that were always close at hand. I was delighted to find Cleburne State Park
and its trails only an hour away.
My favorite and the most traveled path is Fossil Ridge Trail. "Just" at 2.6 miles in length, it does in actuality flow seamlessly into two connecting trails - The Camp Creek Loop
on the west end and Coyote Run Nature Trail
on the east end. This gives a lot of flexibility in planning a visit, either short or long.
I like this trail both for it's beauty and it's ruggedness and challenging short climbs. You may be hiking on a relatively flat path and then find yourself climbing or descending steep limestone rock outcrops. Visitors may find themselves passing through dense woodland and then find yourself traversing rocky cedar breaks. It's like being on a typical eastern woodland trail and then stepping into the barren beauty of the western desert.
True to its name, fossils abound, so keep your eyes on the rocky sections of trail, not only to keep your footing but to see what kind of interesting fossil you could discover.
One aspect of this trail and others in the park is that it is hard to get lost, simply because the park itself is relatively small and its boundaries are all fenced. Armed with a trail map, most hikers will be fine. The one caveat to this is that here and there along the trail you'll find unmarked trails that others have made. Some will turn out to be a shortcut, some lead nowhere. So while not absolutely necessary, a good GPS does come in handy if you are the curious explorer type. That said, if you do get lost it is not far in any direction to a boundary fence line or a park road.
It does tend to get a little crowded on weekends and holidays, so I would advise for the best experience go on week days. Water is never a problem either, you can find it at marked restroom areas and from spigots in the various campgrounds.
Lots of beautiful cedars, with a smaller amount of eastern hardwoods thrown in here and there. In the springtime, bluebonnets abound in patches to the side of the trail, along with indian paintbrush and a mix of other wildflowers.
You may see deer sporadically, maybe a fox. Lots of squirrels. Hawks continually soar in the wind above the park, you'll see their shadows many times on the trail.