There are lots of cool places around Austin, TX to find nature, some of the places listed here might be well known, other’s might be a little less so. These are some of my favorite places that I invite you to also explore.
Barton Springs Pool is one the places I love the most in the entire world. I’ve been swimming in it’s cool waters since I was a kids growing up in Austin in the 70’s and have enjoyed it ever since. For only $5 I can spend the entire day swimming in the 68 degree water or relaxing under the magnificent pecan and cottonwood trees. The pool is part of the City of Austin Parks that surround Lady Bird Lake and the springs. Walking the hike and bike trail around the lake is a good 10 miles from the MoPac bridge to the Longhorn Dam and back or you can break the walk up into smaller loops- I’ve only completed the full loop a few times. The trail also connects with the Johnson Creek Green Belt Trail and now Waller Creek Trail.
I used to like to hike the trails along the Barton Creek Wilderness, but it is so over crowded now. These days I prefer the north Austin option of the miles of trails at the Walnut Creek Metro Park. However, there will always be a special place in my heart for Barton Creek Wilderness as it was such a key part of my childhood and teen years.
When I go birding the best places in town are; Laguna Gloria and Mayfield Park and Hornsby Bend Water Treatment. If I want a simple day trip for birding, I enjoy Pedernales Falls State Park outside of Dripping Springs, Big Webberville Park, and Bastrop State Parks in Bastrop. You can find all the best places in Texas to bird in my new book that is due out in February 2020 called, Parking Lot Birding: A Fun Guide for Discovering Birds in Texas.
The Ann Richards Bridge on Congress Ave is a nice place to watch the Mexican free tailed bats emerge in the evenings from April to October. But if you like to see things in mass, then check out the Purple Martin Parties hosted by Travis Audubon during July. The Purple Martins gather in July in the trees at dusk around Highland Mall (ACC Campus) or in Round Rock. They call it a “hurricane of birds.”
As the city continues to grow, we must invest in our parks and open spaces where people can play, explore and connect with nature. Families that live in apartments or condos utilize the parks as their back yards where they can socialize, exercise and quietly reflect.