Thursday, October 4, 2012
Looking For Crystals In Arlington's Crystal Canyon Natural Area
I vaguely recollected reading something about a new park in Arlington, with Crystal Canyon ringing a bell in my ever more unreliable memory.
Miss Connie came across Crystal Canyon whilst reading Fort Worth Weekly's Best of 2012 issue.
I thought I'd read all through FW Weekly's Best of 2012, not missing a single thing, but, I'd missed the entry about Crystal Canyon and it being FW Weekly Critic's Choice for Best Green Space. Below is the Crystal Canyon blurb from FW Weekly...
Critic's Choice: Crystal Canyon Nature Preserve
1000 Brown Blvd. Arlington
This is the newest and most welcome effort to save Tarrant County's vanishing green spaces, which are being paved over at alarming speeds. Crystal Canyon is a 39-acre oasis of old-growth trees, clear-running creeks, and sandstone outcroppings sparkling with the selenite crystals that give the preserve its name. Nestled among homes and shopping areas in North Arlington, the canyon has remained wild, its topography probably saving it from developer's bulldozers. With a grant from the state, Arlington recently added hiking trails, benches, three pedestrian bridges, a drinking fountain, interpretive signage, and a small parking lot. The city plans to maintain Crystal Canyon as a preserve where families, bird watchers, wildflower enthusiasts, and hikers can enjoy its unspoiled natural beauty and find respite from the concrete canyons of the Metromess.
FW Weekly's description of Crystal Canyon pretty much matched my experience there, today, it being today's location for my regularly scheduled daily endorphin inducing aerobic stimulation.
However, as you might notice via the sign at the top, this park is named Crystal Canyon Natural Area, not Crystal Canyon Nature Preserve.
Also, I saw no creeks with any water running in them. I did see some dry creek beds.
Maybe that crystal you see in the picture is actually one of the illusive Crystal Canyon crystals, and not the piece of broken glass that I thought it likely was.
I hiked off the trail in my futile search for crystals. Which is where I found the "crystal" in the picture.
The FW Weekly article mentions interpretive signage. There was a lot of interpretive signage. Very well done interpretive signange. Interpreting the crystals, interpreting the flora, the fauna and interpreting the very well done, eco-friendly trail and bridge engineering.
Above is the interpretive signage interpreting "What are the Crystals in Crystal Canyon Natural Area" without a question mark.
The Fauna interpretive signage had a lot of birds on the sign. And a Southern Copperhead, Texas Rat Snake and a Bobcat. The picture of the Bobcat, shows an orange Bobcat. I've seen a lot of Bobcats in various Texas parks, but I've never seen a cute orange Tiger kitty looking Bobcat, like the one on the sign in Crystal Canyon.
There are 3 pedestrian bridges in the Crystal Canyon Natural Area, spanning the canyon, or a dry creek. The bridges are made of a hard plastic-like material. I'd not seen this before. It would seem that these bridges will experience no rotting wood issues, unlike some bridges and boardwalks in Fort Worth's poorly maintained parks, like Gateway Park.
You see the above rock formation, in the dry creek bed, from the plastic bridge. I climbed down into the dry creek bed, keeping a watchful lookout for Southern Copperheads, Texas Rat Snakes and Orange Bobcats, to see if I could find some of the illusive crystals, to no avail.
Above you are looking at a section of Crystal Canyon Natural Area trail, as it switches back and forth to gain some elevation. I was very impressed with the Crystal Canyon trail and the engineering that went into the design. The trail is made to handle a flood of water, with multiple drains designed to keep water from eroding the trail.
Utah is my favorite place on the planet, scenery wise. I never fail to be very very happy when I am surrounded by redrock formations, when I am in Utah. Crystal Canyon reminded me, very much, of Utah, at times. The above rock formation was like a mini version of a rock formation I might see in Utah's Zion National Park.
FW Weekly mentioned wildflowers in Crystal Canyon. The above pink wildflower was one of many I saw today, including climbing vines sprouting wildflowers. We are no where near wildflower season. I imagine Crystal Canyon will be very colorful, next year, starting in March.
Crystal Canyon Natural Area was very easy to find. I got off I-30 at Collins Street, headed north about a mile, turned right on Brown Boulevard, coasted down a steep hill, with the Crystal Canyon Natural Area parking lot on the right, soon after coasting down the steep hill.
The parking lot is not very big. It might hold 12 vehicles, maybe less, I did not think to count the number of stalls. Methinks Arlington is going to want to figure out how to add some more parking spaces.
All in all, I'd have to say that Crystal Canyon Natural Area is yet one more jewel in the City of Arlington's Crown of Parks.
Crystal Canyon Natural Area is less than 2 miles from one of Arlington's other park gems, that being River Legacy Park.
UPDATE: Crystal Canyon Natural Area (CCNA) is on Facebook.