(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final installment of a three-part series on trails in Texarkana.)
At the north end of Collom and Carney's parking lot is a sign and bench for the Sister Damian Murphy Trail, turning left to meander down along the creek around the back lots of the CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System campus. All the trails to this point are wide, smooth, well lit, and easy to navigate. The one going down Galleria Oaks to Hospice of Texarkana is the same. Up to this point, you'll always have forests on one side and a road on the other.
Once this section of the trail curves around in the direction of the Interstate 30, it changes. Now you're walking through the CHRISTUS St. Michael parking lot. If you keep heading south you'll see a small children's playground and just past that a pond with a gravel path all the way around it. This is where it gets fun.
There's a large sundial, known as the "Hands Up" Sundial, on the ground to the left of the path as you enter the area. Look for the paving stone that has the letter for the month of the year. Go stand on that paving stone and raise your hands high above you. If the sun is out, your shadow will point toward the correct time on the sundial. Kids especially love it, and it's a great teaching tool.
Ducks, turtles, and koi inhabit the pond itself. The ducks are used to being fed and will come right up to you if you stand still. Sometimes they even get a bit pushy, as if to say, "Hey! Where's the grub?"
During the day, the turtles like to crawl up on the banks of the pond to sun themselves. As you walk around the trail they see you coming and put on a synchronized diving display as they plunge into the water one after another. There's a small bridge that crosses the pond, next to the gazebo. Standing on the bridge you can peer down into the pond and see the turtles swimming back and forth, occasionally stopping to poke their heads above water.
Continuing around the pond you'll come to a bench facing a small statue of Jesus. Young children love to have their picture taken here.
The south end of the pond is only a few hundred yards from I-30 so it can get a bit loud at times, but the trees muffle the sound somewhat and also providing shade.
Turning north on the gravel path you'll find more benches and an ABC Kinder Garden, a series of small signs identifying various plants by all the letters of the alphabet. Past that are more signs identifying different types of metamorphic and sedimentary rocks—more teaching tool for young children.
When you leave the pond, turn right on the sidewalk and it will take you to a gravel path down among the trees with the Stations of the Cross along it. Roughly oval in shape, the path winds through the trees with benches and meditation stations scattered along it at regular intervals.
It is quiet and serene. The wood benches are comfortable and the gravel crunches agreeably underfoot as you stroll through this leafy outdoor cathedral.
Leaving this area the same way you came in, you can cut through the parking lot north to the Imaging Center. Beside it, you'll find another gravel path cutting through the woods. It takes you alongside Dubuis Creek back to Galleria Oaks right where Hospice of Texarkana is located. There's another trail on the east side of the creek so you can take your pick. The trail on the west side of the creek has more shade but both are pleasant and easy.
Once you hit the street, turn left and it will take you full circle back to the corner of Cowhorn Creek and Galleria Oaks. Along the way, you'll pass the future location of the new Pleasant Grove Elementary School.
And that's the end of our walking tour. The Watts and Sister Damian trails are connected but different. The first is more urban and residential. The second, more urban and country.
Both have been nice additions to the Texarkana landscape.