Austin offers many opportunities for local hikes and nature study. And as part of our school routines, we try to hit a different park or trail each week. You can pack a bag with simple staples like nature journal, pencils, bird/tree guide, water and snacks and quickly head out the door. Or bring your school books and a blanket and make a whole school day out of it.
These are a few of our favorite spots:
Green Belt – There are many great access points. Some of our favorites include Twin Falls, Loop 360, Spyglass, Sculpture Falls, and Gus Fruh. When there is water running, we could spend hours exploring and playing.
Butler Park District Fountains – With a great view of the city, Town Lake, and general overall awesome vibe, this is a wonderful place to bring a big blanket, scooters, roller blades and even an extra towel when the fountains are running. The kids can “fish” for minnows in the pond or take their books and read on the benches at the top of the “hill.”
Redbud Trail – Located just West of Mopac on 6th street, I’ve heard of this spot as mostly a “dog park/trail,” but I love it for children because of its length and location on the water. We have seen multiple water birds, turtles, and even crawfish. We’ve studied trees (especially after visiting LCRA Red Bud Center and seeing all of their trees labeled), and also taken our nature journals to draw. A sweet surprise for the kids would be a desert from Mozart’s afterwards (as well as a Chai Latte for Mom).
Zilker Park/Town Lake – The North Side of Zilker Park just feels so free. The open field invites a child to run as far and as long as they’d like. The simple rock structure in the middle adds variety and another place to park with a book. The sand in the volleyball courts could provide hours of fun for the younger kids. And there is even free Wi-Fi all throughout the park! You can join the AAH Soccer group on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 AM for some exercise and spend the rest of the day reading, playing, or even exploring further at the Austin Nature and Science Center.
Here are a few others I’ll save for another time:
- Laguna Gloria – Mount Bonnell – Mayfield Park – all west of MOPAC off of 35th
- Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve
- Turkey Creek Trail close to Emma Long Park
- Enfield Park
- Pease Park
- Quarry Splash Pad in Leander (open in warmer weather)
- Windy Point Park on Lake Travis
- Hamilton Pool/Rheimer’s Ranch
- Bull Creek
- River Place Nature Trail
Do you have other favorite trails or parks? Please share – I still love to discover new places! Thanks!