Today there are many Texas hiking enthusiasts, and in our neck of the woods there are several fantastic places to enjoy a great day of hiking. Many of our home buyers from Liberty Hill and Lago Vista enjoy hiking in the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is located just northwest of Austin and was created as a joint effort between several land management agencies as a protected habitat for endangered song birds and wildlife species unique to Central Texas.
The beauty of Balcones Canyonlands is breathtaking with its spring fed canyons, a plethora of wildflowers and majestic limestone hills. It has 7 miles of trails that wind through rolling hills and grasslands punctuated with elms, oaks and the juniper trees that are a Texas Hill Country trademark.
What to Expect
Hiking in this Refuge offers wetlands, deserts, prairies and rugged terrain. It is home to 245 bird species in the spring and summer and the wild flower gardens attract 37 kinds of dragonflies as well as a variety of butterflies. There are two main trails Warbler Vista just outside of Lago Vista and Doeskin Ranch which is Northwest off of RR 1174.
Warbler Vista has three trails that will lead you to the sunset deck to enjoy majestic views of the Hill Country and Lake Travis. The trail is well-marked with stone markers along the way to highlight specific plants and species. The Cactus Trail is even and offers plenty of cover. For those who like a more challenging hike, the Vista Knoll Trail offers more rugged terrain and if you are up for the challenge, your reward will be the breathtaking view at the southernmost point.
Doeskin Ranch has five trails there are divided into loops and maybe hiked in succession to create a longer hike. The Rim Rock Trail is a moderate hike and there are switchbacks to make the climb a little easier. You will find yourself crossing a stream in the first half mile using stepping stones. There's a small waterfall on the other side. If you wish to hike another mile and a half, you will enjoy the secluded Indian Grass Trail. The Balcones Refuge offers Trails for every level of hiker from the beginner to the experienced enthusiast. there are several trails for families to enjoy and those with varying skills to go together and still have a great time.
Parking and Regulations
The Refuge headquarters is located at FM1431 5 miles west of Lago Vista. The headquarters are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday except on federal holidays. The Refuge is open from sunrise to sunset and no dogs or horses are permitted. parking and entrance to the park is free.