Never heard of Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park? Join the club.
Visitors to the Cuernavaca area off Bee Cave Road know about Commons Ford Road. Nearby residents, however, are also familiar with the rugged park with the same name, but they aren't broadcasting its astonishing peace and quiet.
The former Rescaca Ranch, once owned by the Baldwin family, was left decidedly rough, especially in comparison with popular and well-rigged Emma Long Metropolitan Park on the north shore of Lake Austin.
Commons Ford Ranch — sorry, haven't yet discovered name's precise origin — was purchased by the City of Austin in 1982 from developers Gary Bradley and John Wooley for $3.6 million. Then it was left pretty much alone.
Daytrippers will find a mere 10 picnic tables and one shelter. The volleyball area is popular. There's a fishing pier, but no swimming is allowed beyond a certain point because of dangerous drop-offs and entangling plants.
An unfinished ranch house with two patios and a swimming pool is available for rental and works well for weddings.
The true glory of Commons Ford, however, is the nature. The lowland portion was disturbed by ranching, but few parts of Texas were never ranched. Nowadays, loyalists are restoring the prairie with native grasses and wildflowers, hoping to attract more wildlife (commonsfordpro.blogspot.com).
Meanwhile, there's little to disturb the peace on a three-mile trail that leads to rocky streambeds and, in wet seasons, more than one waterfall.
Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park
Location: 614 Commons Ford Road