The Trail Tamers returned to the trail during March 2021 to assist the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department complete the construction of new trail at Kickapoo Caverns State Park near Brackettville.
The park is known for the caverns and hosting millions of bats but does not gets much attention for its hiking trails that cross this historic ranch.
Planning for the project began during January when Kevin Deiters visited the park for a few days of hiking. The park has over ten miles of trails and an unknown number of miles of ranch roads that were built by ranchers needing to access their stock throughout the property.
Deiters met with park superintendent Kenneth “Doc” Anderson during January to discuss partnering with the Trail Tamers on a project. Anderson recommended that the Trail Tamers work on the 6.5-mile-Long Way Home Trail (LWHT). The LWHT is the longest trail in the park and follows an old ranch road around the back of the property. Unfortunately, each end of the trail terminates at the park road requiring hikers to hike almost a mile on the primary roadway for vehicle traffic.
Anderson proposed the construction of two new segments (approximately 1.0 mile long) connecting the trail into a loop and eliminating the need for hikers to dodge vehicles on the park road. The route was flagged and mowed by park staff and was made ready for brushing by the Trail Tamers.
Deiters and Cody Glover returned in late January to clear brush on a quarter mile segment that the park staff had flagged on the western side of the trail and to scout the remaining flagged segment of the trail intended to reroute the eastern segment of the trail away from the park road.
This was the first project undertaken by the Trail Tamers since February 2020 and required the Board to implement several safety new protocols pertaining to COVID-19. Participants were required to get tested and have a documented negative COVID-19 test within three days of the project or have been vaccinated and symptom free for at least two weeks. Each volunteer was also responsible for providing their own food and water.
Six volunteers signed up and worked clearing brush along the segments that had been flagged and mowed by Park staff. The primarily cleared ash-juniper and cacti along the new segments and installed new signs directing hikers onto the new segments.
The highlight of the project was the construction of a drainage crossing using river rock hauled to the location by a skid steer operated by Superintendent Anderson. This crossing would have taken several days to build by hand; however, the crew was able to knock it out in under an hour with the six loads of river rock that Anderson was able to deliver to the location.