Knob Hill Trail is an 11 mile trail to the West of Lake Grapevine in the DFW area. I hiked this fully for the first time last Monday afternoon and evening after having previously visited for a short one hour like just before sunset a couple of weeks ago.
The first thing I noticed this trip is that in just the first half mile the trail was been completely rerouted since my original visit. It was previously a hard packed – obviously long used – path with lots of ups and downs thru mostly dry creek beds. Now this old path has been blocked off with tree branches, and a new much flatter path is open. I don’t know if this is a permanent of temporary change, but I’m sure the offroad bikers will not be happy with this new more mellow path.
Anyway, moving on! After the first half mile the path rejoined what was clearly the normal hard packed path, following this for another half mile it weaves thru trees and follows Denton Creek – which flows into Lake Grapevine. Shortly after the first mile marker the path levels out and becomes very simple to follow, so for other Knob Hill hikers know that the first – and the last on the return – mile will be the most physically challenging.
The walk is pleasant in general. I’ll touch a few of the ‘highlights’ briefly. At about the 2.5 miles mark it gets a little shady…and not in the cool sense. Lots of empty beer bottles, trash, and a bench that looks suspiciously like part of a meth lab can be seen in the remote woods off the path. While I wouldn’t want to frequent that spot in the dark, it is fine during the day. Thankfully this rather ugly area only lasts for about a half mile and things improve again.
At the 3.5 mile is a nice little bench on a hill. You can sit here for a snack or a break and look out over Lake Grapevine. It is not Grade A scenery, but a nice reward for making it out that far. Knob Hill trail itself does go further, so do not head back thinking you are at the halfway point!
One point worthy of note – the mile markers on this trail are marked on both sides – so you can tell both how far in you are and how far there is to go. For example, when I got to Mile 4 the backside of the pole indicated I had 7 more mile left on my hike. Shortly after mile 4 I was surprised to see another hiker – only the second person I had seen all day – materialize shortly ahead of me. When I got to the point he had appeared I discovered there was another short trail joining the main path from a parking lot.
The Knob Kill Trailhead is accessed by road from Hwy 377 just south of FM1171. Apparently this guy had discovered another way in about four miles from the beginning, but I’m not quite sure what road he was parked on.
Shortly after this point the trail gets a little tricky. It splits into two, and lacking a map I wasn’t sure which way to go. I ended up veering right simply because the left path looked muddier:) I was now a little worried about where I should be going however, I knew that I should get back to the fork within the next 3 miles (according to the 11 mile round trip rule) so I decided if I went that far and wasn’t sure where I was I would just double back.
What I eventually discovered is that the last couple of miles of this out and back trail is in fact a loop – and judging by the mile posters I probably took the loop the wrong way. No harm done however! The ‘far point’ of the trail occurred at a rather run down looking road with a ‘NO PARKING’ sign. Up the road I could see a house, and in the other direction I saw the lake. From memory I also believe I saw a sign saying ‘Cross Timbers’. Hopefully that helps if you find yourself in the same spot.
From there I simply followed the loop around, and eventually I ended up back at the fork. From that point it was simply a matter of trudging 4.5 miles back the same way I had come. As usual I had overestimated my hiking speed – as opposed to my road speed – so the route as a whole took a little longer than anticipated. I left around 2:45pm, and returned to the car close to 4 hours later.
Unfortunately, dusk is about 6:15! While this did make for good wildlife viewing – I had an up close encounter with an Armadillo who didn’t even seem to notice me 10 feet away while he snuffled around off the edge of the trail – I did run out of light. I was close enough I could have found to the car in the darkness – I could see the lights of road traffic in the distance – but I might have sprained an ankle getting there.
Thankfully I had placed my recently purchased Petzl Tikka XP2 headlamp in my backpack for just such an emergency! I tried briefly using its red light to illuminate my way, but kept losing the path. Being rather tired, and admittedly a little stressed at finding myself roaming around in the woods in the dark, I cranked up its powerful white LED and finished up the last quarter mile of my trek.
While the route is marked as 11 mles, my GPS said I walked closer to 12. I will put that down to the occasionally stroll off the trail – and doubling back a couple of times in the dark at the end off the hike:) The weather was great, overcast and slightly chilly but no rain. I completed the hike feeling fine physically, my legs are definitely gaining endurance as they could easily have gone further.
I really need new shoes! My old walking shoes are really not up to off road hiking, and I’m paying for it in blisters. My feet are definitely building character, but I’m sure they will appreciate decent hiking boots when they arrive.
I recommend Knob Hill trail for anyone looking for an uncrowded hike or run that is not too difficult.