Kleberg County High Point Trip Report

Date: February 7, 2002
Author: Bill Jacobs

Kleberg is a most challenging effort, which I thought I had completed until returning home and rechecking the topo maps. Plan on three hours of hiking and around eight miles of travel depending on your starting point. You will also negotiate a dozen Texas fences of all varieties and befriend a zillion thorns, as there seems to be no flora in these parts without a needle of some kind or another to be of an irksome nature.

The four areas of Kleberg County are all within the renowned King Ranch. My original, and false, assumption was that all areas were either on or very near the county line. Following the county line, which at first seemed clearly marked, would lead to successfully reaching the requisite four areas.

The county line where the four areas are located appears to run for several miles on a straight line. Following this line, which was clearly denoted by a fence with shrubbery on one side and cultivated farmland on the other, was making the task easy until about midway when I came upon a stretch where the fence line took an abrupt ninety degree turn to the south for about 100 yards then continued back on its original east/west direction. Where was the county line, 100 yards to the south, 100 yards to the north, or somewhere else? Bear this in mind as we start from the beginning.

From Ben Bolt, about seven miles south of Alice on H281, proceed east on H2508. At four miles continue straight ahead onto a dirt road rather than turning to the northeast on the paved road. This road will turn to the south and at 4.8 miles (from Ben Bolt) find a red-gated fence with the sign, "Santa Maria Ranch". Park here, jump the red gate, and proceed down the road past a gray house. Was told by a neighbor this belonged to a priest, Father Frank, who was there only once or twice a week. The road eventually deteriorates and ends near a hunting blind. At some point between the red gate and the hunting blind you need to cross the fence to the right working your way through the thick vegetation enveloping the fence. Once into the farmed land continue south to the east-west fence line.

Assuming this is the county line (call this point "X"), head west and track your progress by noting the rise and fall of the terrain and the landmarks to the north as shown on the topos. To truly cross the Kleberg high areas you would need to travel on the southerly side of the fence, at least when transiting the high areas. Since the north side is easier hiking, I found myself crossing, rather bellying under, the fence on many occasions. Also note, the topos indicate all land to the south is clear, but it's actually overgrown with thick Texas shrubbery, and sections of the land to the north are shown as "green", but most of the area is now cultivated. There are many hunting blinds along the fence line so during the wrong season you may find yourself an unwelcome guest.

From "point X", described above, proceed west along the fence line for eight tenths (0.8) of a mile to a rising terrain with a 163-foot elevation sighting. This is the point I mistook as one of the four areas. Continue to 1.3 miles from "point X" to another rise in the terrain and proceed a few yards south to area one, a contour circle not touching the county line. There is enough open space in this area, mostly cleared land for hunting deer, to get a warm fuzzy feeling, if not a prickly feeling from all the thorn bushes, to extensively explore the area and satisfy the rule of Schweiker for large flat areas.

Area two is another third of a mile along the fence line and is quite small with no significant prominence making it the most unlikely candidate for the highest area. It's around this area that the fence makes the previously mentioned ninety-degree turn confusing the issue as to real county line. Since area one is not on the county line and areas three and four appear to be confirmed with other measures, this is the only area where the question of the exact county line becomes a problem.

Exactly three miles from "point X" is the northwest corner of Kleberg County and area three with an elevation sighting of 168 feet. Traveling to this point the terrain to the north loses some of its wide-open farmland characteristic and precise location becomes more difficult. However, I arrived at a point that I felt was the county corner. The east-west fence took a ninety-degree cut to the north possibly identifying the property and county edge point. The road adjacent to the fence made a slight jog, a few yards, to the north before resuming its east-west orientation, a feature clearly shown on the topo map at the county corner.

The fourth area is due south from area three. If I were to return to this county, I'll have the GPS coordinates for backup and revisit all areas again.

It's possible there is an easier access from H281 to the west or from the various farms to the north. I advise attempting this county only in the winter and outside of hunting season.