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Blunn Creek Preserve offers serenity

Michael Barnes

Do you ever feel like a park is yours and yours alone? I've felt that way about Blunn Creek Preserve. I've hiked this urban retreat thick with hackberries and elms dozens of times in all kinds of weather, often without running into another soul.

The nature preserve lies along the upper reaches of the creek that originates in a marshy grove just south of Woodward Street, then runs through Travis Heights to Lady Bird Lake. One may enter the mile-long trail from East Oltorf Street, St. Edward's Drive or Long Bow Lane in the St. Edward's neighborhood.

Among the startling finds is a display near the border with Travis High School that explains the volcanic deposits in the park. Volcanoes in Austin? Who knew? The crater of the volcano that spewed all this ash and tuff lies on the St. Edward's University campus! Don't worry, it's been quiet for 80 million years.

English immigrant Joseph Blunn, a carriage trimmer, lived in Austin during the 1860s and '70s before drowning. He's most likely the namesake for the creek and preserve.

In 1952, Lynn Storm purchased the land that had probably been used as a dairy farm. Thirty years later, he tried to build condos on the site. He was opposed by the neighborhood association and, subsequently, the City of Austin bought the land.

Although Blunn Creek Preserve seems quite wild — watch for foxes — it has served as a crucial battleground over invasive species planted by neighbors. A hardy group of nature-lovers has skirmished with ligustrums and other aliens for years.