Outdoors: Central Texas parks

Central Texas is sprinkled with trails for walking, running, hiking and biking. Some parks offer swimming, boating and disc golf.

For information about Austin parks, call the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department at 974-6700. For a complete list of Austin's parks, visit http://www.austintexas.gov/page/park-directory.

For information about Travis County parks, call 854-7275 or visit www.co.travis.tx.us/tnr/parks .

For information about state parks, call 389-8950 or 800-792-1112 or visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us .

 

Austin metropolitan parks

Butler Park. 21 acres with walking trails, a pond and a fountain. 1000 Barton Springs Road.

Circle C Ranch Metro Park on Slaughter Creek. 572 acres, including a 18-basket disc golf course, seven soccer fields, basketball court, two volleyball courts and 6.2 miles of trails. 6301 W. Slaughter Lane.

Commons Ford Ranch. Formerly a working ranch; trails on 211 acres and lake access at the north end (swimming prohibited); 2,500-square-foot ranch house available for events. 614 Commons Ford Road. 974-6797.

Emma Long. 1,109 acres along Lake Austin with sport boat ramps, camping, swimming, volleyball and several miles of trails. 1600 City Park Road. $5-$15. 346-1831.

Mary Moore Searight. Features hike-and-bike and horseback trails, basketball, tennis and volleyball courts, disc golf, barbecue pits, playground and fishing. 907 W. Slaughter Lane.

Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park. 399 acres with four baseball fields, 12 softball fields, three volleyball courts, 1.34 miles of trails, playscapes, picnic tables. 400 Grove Blvd.

Slaughter Creek Metro Park at Bauerle Ranch. 319 acres; trails only.

Town Lake. Boasts 10 miles of scenic trails along the Colorado River downtown and a variety of ball fields.

Walnut Creek. Popular with mountain bikers, the 290-acre park offers 15 miles of trails, basketball and volleyball courts, five softball fields and plenty of space for picnicking. 12138 N. Lamar Blvd.

Walter E. Long. Encompasses Lake Walter E. Long, with fishing, boating and volleyball. 6620 Blue Bluff Road. $8 admission. 926-5230.

Zilker. 304-acre home to Barton Springs Pool connects to Lady Bird Lake trails and the Barton Creek greenbelt; canoeing, concessions, disc golf, train rides and volleyball. 2100 Barton Springs Road. $3 parking. 472-4914.

 

Austin district parks

Balcones. Woodsy acreage above Walnut Creek, with basketball and volleyball facilities. 12017 Amherst Drive.

Bartholomew. 49 acres just north of 51st Street, including a swimming pool, disc golf, ball courts, playground and picnic area. 5201 Berkman Drive.

Beverly S. Sheffield. 30 acres along Shoal Creek with a variety of amenities. 7000 Ardath St.

Bull Creek. Austin's premier dog park, with 48 acres at the base of the Bull Creek greenbelt. 6701 Lakewood Drive.

Davis-White Northeast. 110 acres include basketball and volleyball courts, covered picnic tables, playground and off-leash dog area. 5909 Crystalbrook Drive.

Dick Nichols. Featuring a pool, hike-and-bike trails, ball courts and several barbecue pits. 8011 Beckett Road.

Dittmar. 33 acres. Basketball, volleyball, recreation center, walking trails, playscape, picnic tables, barbecue pits, pool. 1009 W. Dittmar Road.

Dove Springs. 72 acres with ball fields, basketball, volleyball, tennis, hike-and-bike trails, playscape, picnic tables, barbecue pits, pool. 5801 Ainez Drive.

Garrison. Shaded park with a jogging trail, baseball fields, basketball courts, picnic tables, barbecue pits and a seasonal swimming pool. 6001 Manchaca Road.

Givens. 41 acres just east of Airport Boulevard. Lighted basketball courts and softball fields allow play past twilight. 3811 E. 12th St.

Mabel Davis. Amenities include skate park, Olympic-size pool, basketball court and trails. 3427 Parker Lane.

Pease. Popular site for festivals includes 39 picnic tables, playground equipment, a splash pad, ball courts and disc golf. 1100 Kingsbury St.

Waterloo. 10 acres include busts of historical figures, playground equipment and picnic tables. 403 E. 15th St.

 

Austin greenbelts

Barton Creek. Urban oasis includes 13.4 miles of hike-and-bike trails, dense foliage and cliffs, extending from Zilker Park to the Lost Creek subdivision. 3755-B S. Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360). See www.texasoutside.com/bartongreenbelt.htm for list of access points.

Blunn Creek. 13 acres serving the Travis Heights neighborhood. 1901 East Side Drive.

Boggy Creek. 48 open acres in East Austin. 1114 Nile St.

Bull Creek. Scenic trails and swimming holes adorn 477 acres along the watershed. 7806 N. Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360).

Buttermilk Branch. 18 acres behind the St. John Community Center and library. 7500 Meador Drive.

East Bouldin Creek. 1.7 acres, 704 W. James Street.

Gaines Creek. 118 acres south of Barton Creek between MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) and U.S. 290. Stearn's Lane.

J.J. Seabrook. 2.9 acres along Tannehill Creek. 2000 Pershing Drive.

Johnson Creek. 16 acres include playground and sidewalks. 2100 Enfield Road.

Latta Branch. 1.5 miles of trails just north of Dick Nichols Park. 7910 Beckett Road.

Marble Creek. 11 acres near Mc-Kinney Falls Parkway. 6605 E. William Cannon Drive.

North Cat Mountain. 30 acres in the hills off Far West Boulevard. 6801 Cat Creek Trail.

Shoal Creek. 80 acres with 6.5 miles of trails. 2600 N. Lamar Blvd.

South Boggy Creek. Picnic tables and parkland on four acres. 7600 Circle S Road.

St. Edward's. 80 acres with trails tucked away in Northwest Austin. 7301 Spicewood Springs Road.

Steck Valley. 38 acres along Bull Creek. 8403 Adirondack Trail.

North Star Greenbelt. 17.6 acres and 1.5 miles of concrete trail. 11701 Tallow Field Way.

Onion Creek Greenbelt. 175 acres with 2.45 miles of trails, a playscape and an off-leash dog area. 7004 Onion Creek Drive.

Waller Creek. 4.6 acres and 1.3 miles of trails extending from Waterloo Park to Lady Bird Lake. 703 E. Sixth St.

Walnut Creek. 516 acres connect Balcones District Park to Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park. 2611 Park Bend Road.

Wells Creek. 15 acres between Parmer and Howard lanes. 13100 Metric Blvd.

West Bouldin Creek. 18 acres parallel to South Lamar Boulevard. 1200 S. Sixth St.

Williamson Creek. 252 acres snaking through South Austin. 5200 S. First St.

Travis County parks

Allen. A 10-acre park used mainly for low-density recreational activities such as picnicking and hiking. Westside Drive.

Ben E. Fisher. Manor park with a small playscape, two basketball courts, a volleyball court, a short walking path and a covered shelter. Carrie Manor Road.

Dink Pearson. A 3.6-acre park on the north shore of Lake Travis that consists of a limestone outcropping with shallow layers of loam, unimproved boat ramp. Lohmans Ford Road.

East Metropolitan Park. 273 acres, including a community pavilion, a swimming pool, a basketball court, disc golf, playscapes, concession stands, hiking trails, three youth baseball fields, three adult baseball fields, four soccer and two multiuse fields, two practice fields, one pond stocked regularly (catch and keep) and two ponds suitable for catch-and-release fishing. Southeast of Manor at Burleson-Manor and Blake-Manor roads.

Fritz Hughes. A small neighborhood park below Mansfield Dam on Lake Austin with a wooded and grassy plateau used primarily for picnicking, fishing and basketball. Fritz Hughes Park Road.

Hamilton Pool. A historic swimming hole west of Austin with a 50-foot waterfall and hiking trails. Hamilton Pool Road. $3-$8. 264-2740.

Little Webberville. Park on the banks of the Colorado River is a popular spot for boaters, anglers and picnickers. Water Street, Webberville.

Mary Quinlan. 5.8 acres of rolling hills with 200 feet of shoreline access, including the only public boat ramp for several miles on Lake Austin. Quinlan Park Road.

Northeast Metropolitan. 349 acres offering picnicking, hiking, biking and sports fields. Pecan Road, Pflugerville. 854-9489.

Reimers Ranch Park. Almost three miles of continuous frontage along the Pedernales River and more than 18 miles of trails. Rock climbing, mountain biking and fishing are popular. Hamilton Pool Road. $8.

Richard Moya. Contains two miles of hike-and-bike trails, covered group shelters and multi-use fields south of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Burleson Road.

Sandy Creek. A 25-acre park with swimming, nature walks, a boat ramp, birding, camping and fishing. Lime Creek Road, Volente. $3-$15.

Selma Hughes. Offers several shady picnic areas with nice views of the upper reaches of Lake Austin. Selma Hughes Park Road.

Southeast Metropolitan. Has a two-mile concrete trail skirting two ponds, a three-quarter-mile nature trail along two ponds with catch and release fishing, sports fields, basketball and a covered pavilion. 4511 E. Texas 71 .

Tom Hughes. Primitive trails and swimming in the basin area of Lake Travis near Mansfield Dam. Park Drive. $3-$8.

Webberville. Fishing, picnicking, covered shelters, horseback riding and access to the Colorado River. Park Lane, Webberville.

Windmill Run. Oak Hill neighborhood park with playground. 7306 Kirkham Cove.

Other area parks

Bluff Creek Ranch. Nine miles of shaded trails for bicyclists of all levels as well as camping, swimming and fishing. Warda. 979-242-5894, www.bcrwarda.com .

Bright Leaf Preserve. 216-acre natural area within Austin city limits. Guided hikes only, no bikes, dogs, fishing or camping. Visit website for hike dates or call to arrange a hike. Part of the Austin Community Foundation. 512-459-7269, www.brightleaf.org .

Georgetown. 30 parks include trails for running and biking, a dog park, skate park, swimming and sports fields. 512-930-3595, www.parks.georgetown.org .

Kerrville-Schreiner Park. 517-acre recreation area on the Guadalupe River. Camping facilities, hike-and-bike trails, swimming, fishing. 830-257-5392 or 830-257-7300. www.kerrville.org .

Kyle. Three city parks. Steeplechase has disc golf, sand volleyball, other sports facilities and a playscape; Gregg-Clarke park has sports facilities and swimming; Waterleaf park has baseball fields and a playscape. 512-262-3939. See detailed list at www.cityofkyle.com/parks/parks-facilities.php .

Pflugerville. 32 parks. Pfluger Park, Lake Pflugerville Park and beach with kayak rental, Gilleland Creek Park, Heritage Park and activity pool, Bohls Park and others. 251-5082, www.cityofpflugerville.com .

Round Rock. 34 developed parks including Old Settlers Park, Lake Creek Park and Windy Terrace trails. 218-5540, www.roundrocktexas.gov/parksandrec .

San Marcos. Twenty-five park facilities throughout the city including Rio Vista and Dunbar parks. 512-393-8400, www.ci.san-marcos.tx.us .

Taylor. Parks include Bull Branch Park, Murphy Park and Fannie Robinson Park. 512-352-5818, www.ci.taylor.tx.us .

State parks

Bastrop State Park. Camping, cabins, picnic areas, an 18-hole golf course, fishing, swimming pool, hiking and biking trails. Summer passes available. Bastrop. 512-321-2101.

Blanco State Park. Camping, screened shelters, swimming, fishing, picnicking, boating along the Blanco River. Blanco. 830-833-4333.

Buescher State Park. Camping, screened shelters, a recreation hall, hiking, biking, a lake (fishing and nonmotorized boating), picnic tables, group picnic pavilion. Smithville. 512-237-2241.

Colorado Bend State Park. Park rangers lead walking cave tours at 9:15 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays and crawling cave tours at 9 a.m. on the first Saturday of month. Tours last three hours. Fishing, swimming, hiking and primitive camping available. Between Lampasas and San Saba. 325-628-3240.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Hiking, tent pads, restrooms, showers, a picnic area, rock climbing, primitive camp sites. 16710 RM 965, Fredericksburg. 830-685-3636.

Government Canyon State Natural Area. 8,624-acre area with scenic overlooks, birdwatching, hiking. 12861 Galm Road, San Antonio. 210-688-9055.

Guadalupe River State Park. Fishing, canoeing, tubing, picnicking, hiking, an equestrian trail, birdwatching. Two-mile guided tour of the Honey Creek State Natural Area at 9 a.m. Saturdays. 3350 Park Road 31, Spring Branch. 830-438-2656.

Hill Country State Natural Area. Limited developed natural area with 40 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. Tent sites; equestrian campgrounds; group lodge with equestrian facilities. 10600 Bandera Creek Road, Bandera. 830-796-4413.

Honey Creek State Natural Area. 2,293 acres in Comal County. Access by tour only. 3350 Park Road 31, Spring Branch. 830-438-2656.

Inks Lake State Park. Hiking trails, golf, a primitive backpack area, campsites with water and picnic tables. Paddle boats and canoes can be rented. 3630 Park Road 4 West, Burnet. 512-793-2223.

Lake Somerville State Park & Trailway. Consists of three units: Birch Creek, Nails Creek and Lake Somerville Trailway, with camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, hiking, biking and equestrian use. Nails Creek, FM 180, Ledbetter. 979-289-2392. Birch Creek, 14222 Park Road 57, Somerville. 979-535-7763.

LBJ State Park and Historic Site. Near the LBJ Ranch, which is in the LBJ National Historic Park. Tours of the ranch start from the state park. Nature trails, wildlife enclosures, historic exhibits, two lighted tennis courts, swimming pool, picnic sites. Stonewall. 830-644-2252.

Lockhart State Park. 11/2 miles of hiking trails; a nine-hole golf course; a swimming pool; campsites with water, electricity and sewage; picnic areas, a recreation hall. Lockhart. 512-398-3479.

Longhorn Cavern State Park. 645 acres of scenic parkland with historic and nature study, camping, fishing, hunting and guided cavern tours. Park Road 4, Burnet. 830-598-2283.

Lost Maples State Natural Area. 2,174 acres include several hiking trails, diverse flora and fauna, picnic sites, campsites with electricity and primitive camping. 37221 RM 187, Vanderpool. 830-966-3413.

McKinney Falls State Park. Four miles of hiking and biking trails, 3.5 miles of paved trails, campsites with water and electricity, fishing. Group facilities include screened shelters and dining hall. Onion Creek is open to swimmers unless bacteria count is high. McKinney Falls Parkway, Austin. 243-1643.

Meridian State Park. Hidden away in the wooded hills northwest of Waco lies a haven for nature lovers and fishing enthusiasts. Camping, fishing, picnicking, hiking, lake swimming (unsupervised), boating, birdwatching, fishing and bicycling on park roads. 254-435-2536.

Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery State Historic Sites. Ruins of one of the first commercial breweries in Texas and the home of stonemason Heinrich L. Kreische. Visitor center, self-guided tour, wheelchair-accessible, interpretive trail, nature trail, picnic sites, playground. 414 State Loop 92, La Grange. 979-968-5658.

Mother Neff State Park. The first official state park in Texas located west of Moody, along the Leon River. Camping, hiking, picnicking, fishing from the river bank and wildlife observation. 1680 Texas 236. 254-853-2389.

Palmetto State Park. Named for the tropical dwarf palmetto plant and located in Gonzales County, northwest of Gonzales and southeast of Luling. The park abuts the San Marcos River and has a four-acre oxbow lake. Activities include camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, birding, nature study, pedal boat and canoe rentals, swimming, tubing and canoeing. 78 Park Road 11 South. 830-672-3266.

Pedernales Falls State Park. 19.8 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails; 10 miles of equestrian day trails; 14 miles of backpacking trails; fishing; campsites with electricity, water and grills. Swimming permitted in a portion of the river. 2585 Park Road 6026, Johnson City. 830-868-7304.

LCRA parks

LCRA owns 14 public parks on the Colorado River. Seven parks are operated by Travis County. For more information, call 473-3200 or visit www.lcra.org/parks .

Arkansas Bend. 198 acres on the north shore of Lake Travis offers hiking, fishing, camping, picnicking and lake access. $10-20.

Bob Wentz. 211-acre park. A favorite location on Lake Travis for water sports, plus an adjacent 150-acre tract that is maintained as a natural area. Comanche Trail. $10.

Camp Creek Recreation Area. 42 acres of trails, picnic areas, boat ramp, primitive camping. County Road 343, eight miles from Marble Falls. Free.

Cypress Creek. 37 acres. A favorite spot for boating, picnicking and fishing on Lake Travis. RM 2222 and RM 2769. $3-$15.

Gloster Bend Recreation Area. 586 acres with boat ramp, picnic areas. Singleton Bend Road, Marble Falls. $5 per vehicle.

Granite Beach Recreation Area. 36 acres. Boat ramp, swimming area and marina on the south shore of Lake LBJ.

Grelle Recreation Area. Trails, boat ramp, primitive camping, picnic areas. County Road 412, Spicewood. $5 per vehicle.

Hippie Hollow. 109-acre park features a steep, rocky shoreline and spectacular views of Lake Travis. The only clothing-optional public park in Texas is popular for sunbathing and swimming. Comanche Trail. $5-$10.

Lake Bastrop-North Shore Park. 20 acres with ample campsites with electric and water hookups, showers and restrooms. Boat ramp. Adjacent to 900-acre bass fishing lake. $4-$45.

Lake Bastrop-South Shore Park. 44 acres. Campsites with electric and water hookups, showers and restrooms. Mini-cabins. Boat ramp. Adjacent to 900-acre bass fishing lake. $4-45.

Mansfield Dam. A primary access point for boaters on Lake Travis. Central recreation area also offers picnic sites, a playground, horseshoe pits, chess tables and a panoramic view of the Lake Travis basin. Mansfield Dam Road. $5-$10.

McKinney Roughs Nature Park. Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Hiking and equestrian trails, wildlife viewing, day camps, various classes and activities all year. 1884 Texas 71 West, Cedar Creek. $1-$3, $10 for horseback riding. 512-303-5073.

Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area. 920 acres on the south side of Lake Travis. Trails, primitive camping, mountain biking, picnic areas. County Road 414, Spicewood. $5 per vehicle.

Narrows Recreation Area. 21 acres on the south side of Lake Travis. Boat ramp, bank fishing. County Road 411, Spicewood. Free entry; no camping allowed.

Pace Bend. More than nine miles of shoreline along Lake Travis with a wide range of recreational opportunities. Pace Bend Park Road, Spicewood. $3-$20. 264-1482.

Sandy Creek. A quiet cove off Lake Travis, this park offers swimming, boat ramp, primitive camping and fishing. 9500 Lime Creek Road. $3-10.

Shaffer Bend Recreation Area. 521 acres with camping, picnic areas, hiking trails. County Road 343A, east of Marble Falls. $5 per vehicle.

Turkey Bend Recreation Area. 1,138 acres on the north shore of Lake Travis, primitive camping, picnic areas, fishing. Shaw Drive off FM 1431. $5 per vehicle.

Austin nature preserves

Austin's Parks and Recreation Department has several preserves that are sanctuaries for native plants and animals and natural features. Firearms, hunting, motorized vehicles, bicycles and pets generally are prohibited. Noise should be kept to a minimum. Visitors must stay on trails and should not remove or damage plants, animals or natural features.

Many preserves are open to the public; some are available only by reservation for educational groups. Call 327-7723 or visit www.ci.austin.tx.us/parks/preserves.htm .

The Balcones Canyonlands Preserves conserve endangered species and their habitat. Public access and rules on allowed activities, such as hiking, mountain biking, dog-walking, swimming and rock climbing, vary. Go to www.cityofaustin.org/water/wildland .

 

Barrow Nature Preserve. 7715 Longpoint Drive.

Big Walnut Creek Nature Preserve. 11418 Sprinkle Cutoff Road.

Blunn Creek Nature Preserve. Natural area with several restored perennial springs, a champion Texas persimmon and an extinct Cretaceous volcano. 1100 St. Edward's Drive.

Colorado River Wildlife Sanctuary. Unique wetland, marsh ecosystems, resident waterfowl and a glimpse of the Colorado River in its natural undeveloped condition. Excellent opportunities for birding. 5827 Levander Loop.

Deer Park Preserve at Maple Run. 4929 Davis Lane.

Goat Cave Karst. Staff-guided tours only through caves and sinkholes. 3900 Deer Lane.

Indiangrass Wildlife Sanctuary. This tallgrass prairie biome represents one of our nation's most threatened ecosystems. Approximately 200 acres. Controlled access. 10501 Bloor Road.

Mayfield Park and Preserve. Ponds, peacocks and palm trees throughout this verdant natural area and garden. 3505 W. 35th St.

Old Pistol Range (Civilian Conservation Corps) and Austin Biodiversity Greenhouse. Learn how to propagate native plants. 2305 Rollingwood Drive.

Onion Creek Wildlife Sanctuary. Staff-guided tours only. 180 acres. Controlled access. 4425 E. Texas 71.

Stephenson Nature Preserve and Outdoor Education Center. Vast woodlands and wildflowers throughout this unique preserve. 147 acres. 7501 Longview Road.

Stillhouse Hollow Nature Preserve. Approximately 19.8 acres. Preserve has birding opportunities and its rock-lined trails are ADA-accessible. 7810 Sterling Drive.

Zilker Nature Preserve. Established in 1934. Rock-lined trails and scenic vistas. 302 Nature Center Drive. 327-7723.

Rock climbing

Austin Rock Gym. Indoor climbing facility with training for all ages. Classes available. 8300 N. Lamar Blvd., Suite E102, and 4401 Freidrich Lane, Suite 300. 416-9299, www.austinrockgym.com .

Barton Creek greenbelt. Limestone cliffs on four-mile stretch. 472-1267 for conditions.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Domes of pink granite with climbs of various difficulties. Hiking, primitive campsites. 16710 RM 965, Fredericksburg. 830-685-3636.

Riverside Sanctuary. Steep cliffs drop off to the South San Gabriel River behind St. David's Hospital in Georgetown. Open to the public; release forms available by the gate by the radio tower behind the hospital. 2000 Scenic Drive, Georgetown. 512-943-3000.

Main Event. A 9,000-square-foot rock climbing arena with three-story-tall towers. All facilitators are certified. Walk-in guests are accepted; call ahead for groups of 10 or more. 401-0000, www.maineventusa.net .

Reimers Ranch. About half a mile of dedicated rock climbing, with future climbing areas in development. Hamilton Pool Road .

 

Outdoors organizations

Austin Cycling Association. Meets monthly; classic rides on weekends and hosted rides during the week. www.austincycling.org .

Austin Rowing Club. Has rowing events, coaching and education. 472-0726, www.austinrowing.org .

Austin Runners Club. Runs most days of the week. www.austinrunners.org .

Austin Skiers. For people who enjoy snow skiing. Several ski trips a year, monthly meetings and other activities. 512-261-1306, www.austinskiers.org .

Austin Triathletes Club. Online social group with multi-sport information, e-mail list with about 2,600 members. Quarterly social events and holiday party with awards. 707-7657, www.austintri.com .

Central Texas Mountaineers. Climbing information, social events, advocacy for climbing access and preservation of open spaces. www.ctmrocks.com .

Hill Country Outdoors. Outdoor, social and sporting activities and events. 383-1191, www.hillcountryoutdoors.com .

RunTex. Store offers workouts and sponsors races. 422 W. Riverside Drive, 2201 Lake Austin Blvd., 809 S. Main St. in Georgetown and 4615 N. Lamar Blvd . 472-3254, www.runtex.com .

Sierra Club Austin. Organization dedicated to enjoying, exploring and protecting wild places. Certified leaders for hikes, camping trips, canoeing and tubing. Weekly meetings. 444-4495, texas.sierraclub.org/austin .

Texas Outdoors Woman Network. Meets monthly; weekly outings. www.townaustin.homestead.com .

The Trail Foundation. A group dedicated to protect and enhance the beauty of the trail at Lady Bird Lake. Trail projects and volunteer opportunities available. 512-733-3989, www.townlaketrail.org .

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