My daughters share my adventuring spirit. Haley (15) and Taylor (10) have grown up exploring Central Texas and learned to walk, and eventually run, on the trails of Miller Springs. Taylor always reminds me that “adventure begins when the paved road ends!” This past Good Friday gifted us with a day off from school and some beautiful Texas weather, so we planned to make the most of it by being outdoors!
Our first stop was the Hilltop Splendor Alpacas farm in Moody. When I stumbled across Hilltop Splendor Alpacas on Facebook (a friend had recently checked in there), I sent them a message and arranged a visit. This farm quietly tucked away down 317, is a hidden treasure! We spent over an hour there – getting a crash course on alpacas, hand feeding them, and walking around the farm with one of the owners, Karen Campbell. She was incredibly inviting and gracious – she was a wealth of information, and we enjoyed every minute of our one-of-a-kind hands-on experience! Taylor, my animal whisperer, told me that Friday was the best day of her life!
While our tour was free of charge, I suggest giving a cash donation (we gave $20). Some of the alpacas are pregnant, and we will be making a return trip in May to see the babies! Get in touch with Karen through the Hilltop Splendor Alpacas page.
When we left Moody, we stopped at home to pick up our dog, Charlie, before heading to Dana Peak in Harker Heights for some hiking. In the time since Miller Springs Nature Center closed, we have frequented Chalk Ridge Falls and several Austin area trails, but never Dana Peak. I think I just forgot about it, honestly. I was at the Miller Springs community meeting a few weeks ago, and Jason Deckman mentioned the park to me. I immediately started planning a day trip there!
Dana Peak features over six miles of rocky trails with varying elevations, rated as moderate. A hike to the top rewards you with stunning views of Stillhouse Lake. The trails are dog and mountain bike friendly.
The drive there is easy enough, but the parking is limited! We joined the dozen other cars that were pulled off in the gravel. A map, clearly posted at the parking area highlights several trails. We hiked the Back Stage Pass (blue trail), and while the map says it is a 1.3-mile loop, we turned it into a much longer one!
Whenever we are out adventuring, if two paths cross and we have to decide which way to go, I always tell the girls to take the path that climbs higher as that’s where we will find the beautiful views. We encountered one obstacle that our dog wasn’t able to jump, so we lifted him over the boulder and continued on our way. Most of the hike up was wooded, and the view from the top was fantastic!
Dana Park is definitely on our list to return to because there is plenty left to explore! Central Texas has so much to offer when you spend a day in the life for adventure