Continuing on the park and nature trails near Austin, exploration begins again in the southwest region of the city. Another one of my favorite areas is the Wild Basin Balcones Canyon Lands preserve area. This area is dedicated to public education and preservation of eight federally protected endangered species in Texas. While this park again is not available for people wanting to bring their pets, bikes, or to have an afternoon picnic, it is a wonderful place to learn more about this special area of the great state of Texas. The area contains 227 acres of public land covered with new trails to explore. There are many trail maps available to explore this wild and preserved area. Make sure to stop and see the Texas Hill Country from the overlook, and no park visit would be complete without relaxing for a moment by the waterfall that comes from the natural springs in the area. Make sure to take plenty of water for the hike! Location: 805 North Capital of Texas Highway Austin, TX 78746.
Thirty miles west of Austin in Spicewood, Texas is one of my favorite summer swimming spots, Krause Springs. This private park was opened in 1955 and it one of Austin’s most beautiful areas to enjoy the natural springs and beautiful cypress lined natural pool. They also have a manmade pool which also contains the spring water. Keep in mind the spring water is about 68 degrees year round, so if you don’t like the cold water, just sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery. You will not be disappointed. It is unlike any of the parks in the area. There is a fee to use the park, since it is private property. Camping sites are also available should you wish to stay and enjoy the area for another day. The address of this park is 404 Krause Springs Rd, Spicewood, TX 78669.
Following the mission for conservation and preservation, make sure to stop at the Austin Zoo on your way back from Krause Springs. The Austin Zoo is located at 10808 Rawhide Trail, Austin, Tx. 78736. The zoo is actually a rescue and rehabilitation center. All of the proceeds are to help animals who have been rescued. They currently have over 300 animals and a train for the little ones. This is a wonderful small zoo, which benefits a great cause. They recently added additional habitats for the animals.
If you are looking for some activities to do at Lake Travis, I recommend Mansfield Dam. This one holds quite a few memories for me over the years. As a teen the dam served as the major roadway across the lake. It was a harrowing journey on the two lane road if you happened to pass a semi right where the gate lifts were. They built a much larger vehicle bridge in the mid 90s, that is far less treacherous. For security reasons they no longer allow access to the dam, however the views of the lake in this area remain an inspiring place to spend the afternoon. The actual Mansfield Dam park has boat launch areas, plenty of picnic facilities, and lengthy hiking trails. Feel free to take your own path around the peninsula, as there is not heavy vegetation at the edge of the lake. You will find shells and other lucky finds on the water’s edge. Access will certainly vary depending on the water level, so be sure to prepare before going. You are sure to enjoy the time near the water; it is what makes Austin such a desirable place to be. My personal recommendation is to take the low water crossing road. This goes across the back side of the dam. Parking in a bit limited, but I have found this to be more relaxing than the more popular areas. Many people fish in this area. I find this area to have more shade vegetation to sit and enjoy the scenery. For me this area is a wonderful place to reflect back on the changes and remember the great times growing up in Austin.
If you have the opportunity to have dinner at the famous “The Oasis” restaurant on the lake, your day will be complete. There is nothing that can compare to watching the sun set over the lake, while enjoying world class food. THIS is what makes Austin so great!