Trail Review: Goat Island Preserve (or How I Survived a Pack of Dogs and Feral Pigs)

I decided to try something a bit different today.  Rather than sticking around home for a hike, I figured I’d make my way to south Dallas (Wilmer to be exact) and check out Goat Island Preserve.  This is another gem passed along to me by a friend and I got more than what I bargained for!

This place is a little “off the map”.  You can find more information here about Goat Island Preserve.  The link will give you directions to the trail head….but just know that Fulghum turns into Post Oak Road.   It may seem that you’re supposed to turn left onto Post Oak, but don’t be fooled.  You need to proceed straight ahead and take a sharp right.  You’ll make a few more 90 degree turns and eventually come to an area that has parking.  It looks like this.

Goat Island Preserve Parking

Goat Island Preserve Parking

Actually pretty nice parking area.  You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see this.

Goat Island Preserve Signage

Goat Island Preserve Signage

To the left of this sign you’ll see a road that’s blocked off by a metal arm; but you can easily go around the gate and walk down towards the trail heads.  You’ll eventually come to an old fence that was part of one of the original homesteads in the area.

Old fence

Old fence

To the left of this fence is the low road that brings you close to the Trinity River.

Low road to the left of old fence

Low road to the left of old fence

To the right of the fence is the high road that goes along the levy.

High road along levy to the right of old fence

High road along levy to the right of old fence

I started my hike this morning at the ass crack of dawn….also known as 6:30AM.  As I got to the old fence, I could hear dogs in the distance.  It sounded like they had something up a tree.  I figured I’d take the high road along the levy in hopes the dogs would clear out.

Just as I started along the high road I heard barking behind me.  Sure enough the pack of dogs had gotten my scent and had come up behind me.  I calmly turned by side to them and kept my treking pole where I could easily use it if need be.  The first dog started down the trail toward me barking.  He was quickly joined by several more…there were at least 4 or 5.  I continued to stand sideways to them and not move and not say a word.  When the pack realized there was nothing to see here and nothing to chase, they turned back and went away from me.  The first dog, most likely the ring leader, wasn’t ready to give up so easily.  He kept easing toward me and barking….but the barks sounded more like warnings.  He eventually realized his comrades had left him so with one last warning bark he too turned and followed his buddies toward their next adventure.

I’m just glad I wasn’t that adventure!

I continued along the levy and quickly started getting bogged down in mud.  LOTS of mud! We had a huge rain event yesterday.  I had to stop every 20 to 30 feet and use my trekking pole to try and knock the mud off my boots.   I also noticed that the road was pretty tore up.  It almost looked like a small bulldozer had come through the area.  I quickly found proof of hooves and realized there were wild pigs in the area.  Now I’ve never seen wild pigs, but everyone I’ve ever talked to has told me what mean little SOBs they are.

Sure enough, during one of my de-mudding stops, I looked up the trail to see a large black pig cross over the levy and go down the levy off to my right.  I stood still to see if any others were going to cross.  After a couple of minutes, I figured I’d slowly and cautiously make my way toward where I had seen the pig.

Sure enough on the left side of the levy, I saw what I believe was “momma” pig along with her current offspring.  Daddy (the black one) looked to be about 700lbs.  Mom looked to be about 500lbs and the babies looked to be about 200lb – 300lbs.

They were rooting around and I quietly unzipped my pocket to try and get to my camera.  It was about that time that the mom looked up toward the top of the levy and sensed something was out of place.  I quickly put my camera back in my pocket when I realized she was charging up the levy toward me!  Again, I stood stock still and didn’t utter a sound.  She stopped just short of the top, confirmed someone was there and turned tail squealing to call her babies to her and booked it down toward the river.   I could still hear and see the male on the right side of the levy and continued when he suddenly burst through the undergrowth crossing from my right to my left to follow the rest of his brood.

The rest of the hike entailed me stopping to deal with mud however my nerves were a bit on edge.  I eventually startled a barn owl….not sure who was more jumpy at this point…me or him.

Another 3 miles heading south and the trail comes out at Belt Line Road.  Let me save you some trouble here.  The link above doesn’t really give any specifics of where exactly the high road meets the low road.  I actually crossed Belt Line, walked over the old bridge and crossed over the Trinity River.  I quickly realized I was not on trail and circled back to join the high road.  Right where the high road comes out at Belt Line, if you look to the left, you’ll see a cement retaining wall.  Go to the left of that wall down under the bridge and you’ll pick up the low trail to your left.  Don’t be like me and cross over Belt Line.  You should never cross over Belt Line.

The trail turns back north and follows closely next to the Trinity River.  Here you can easily see one of the Locks that was built and abandoned.  I can easily see how folks would want to kayak this part of the Trinity River; although this time of year would be dicey considering the number of hunters I heard down stream!

Walking back north I still had my fair share of mud.  Needless to say I was probably more worried about running back into the pigs at this point.  I finally made it back to the car.  I hiked little over 6 miles.  Probably took me 4 hours.  Horrible time, but what with being cautious and trying to get rid of the pound and a half of mud on each boot it took a bit longer than I would have liked.

Would I do this hike again?  Absolutely….but next time I’m going to make sure it’s good and dry!



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