Cooper Lake State Park

The trails across Texas crew was at it again. Our next destination was Cooper Lake State Park. After a five hour drive North East of Dallas we had arrived in Sulphur Springs Texas. We unloaded our gear at our beautiful campsite right by the lake shore. We had access to wonderful screened shelters to use to keep our gear and goods dry through out the hitch. With plenty of fishing spots, huge lake, wonderful hiking trails, and sandy beach shore on the lake there was plenty to keep us occupied in our off time.

We arrived at the project site the next day and discussed the task at hand. Our project consisted of removing a weathered and rickety wooden bridge and replace it with a sustainable concrete low water crossing. The bridge was unsafe and uncomfortable for horses to cross along with being an eye sore on a beautiful equestrian trail.  First things first we had to demolish the weather beaten wooden bridge using pickmatics, rock bars, and double jacks and excavate a massive berm of dirt that was creating a whirlpool like effect during heavy rain falls. We split up the first few days having crew member hunt and fell large cedar trees with chainsaws and other tree felling tools, wedges and felling axe, a great experience. After the bridge was demoed we then had to excavate the ground below creek bed level. We then laid six inches of gravel, six inches of larger sized rocks, and six inches of concrete blocks to to complete the low water crossing. With the foundation of the low water crossing laid we then were ready to use the cedar trees we had harvested. Stripping the bark to prevent rotting they were precisely cut to size and rebarred into custom trenches to create water bars and check steps to allow a more friendly climb for horses to make it up the and down the steep incline on both sides of the crossing and sustain the trail from weathering.
The weather was fair to us for the most part. We had severe thunderstorm come through one night with hail and tornado warnings. Luckily for us the severity of the storm didn’t reach us and we were able to witness an incredible lightning storm show right on the shore of the lake! none of had ever seen anything like it before! With scattered showers throughout the hitch we were unable to lay the concrete on top of the rocks, but all of us could not have been more proud of the work we accomplished. We all had our doubts and concerns about the project but together we were able to problem solve and come together collectively to accomplish any obstacle we ran into. The project for the most part was complete and we were all totally satisfied with finished product. Not only did we fix the problem at hand we created an aesthetically pleasing part of a beautiful trail, that should be there working efficiently and safely for decades and decades to come.
Ryan Garwood – Trails Across Texas Crew Member

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