Ah! Finally Hiking in Texas, Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, Bertram, Burnet County, Texas #1

Moved to Texas in the Fall of 2018. The hiking here is…. let’s say different. It’s hot. There is little to no shade in most areas. But the state has it’s own type of beauty. And I am talking about Canyons not Mountains. We have lived here for about three weeks but with all the installers and deliveries that moving entails I couldn’t get time to hike. Momma had to report to work within a week. I had about four weeks to pout about why it was taking so long for my transfer to get done. I walked portions of the urban greenways with Quinn but that is all I got out. First hike I got to take was at the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge protects the habitat of the Golden Cheeked Warbler and the Black Capped Vireo. I cannot tell you what either of these birds looks like. If you see them it is only in passing as both birds are very swift flyers.

Doeskin Ranch Trailhead, Marble Falls Texas

Doeskin Ranch.… what have I gotten myself into? This is the best of the two trailheads at Balcones. I will talk about the other later. At Doeskin there is about 5 miles of trails, and the only water fall in the park, which I have come to find out, are somewhat rare in Texas. Shame. I can’t remember how many hikes in North Carolina I did just to reach a waterfall. I took the somewhat challenging Rimrock Trail up to the top of the canyon/hill. Balcones Canyonlands is located in the hill country west of Austin.

“into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul”

John Muir
Heading into the Canyon at Balcones Canyonlands

This trail takes me to the park’s longest trail, the Indiangrass Trail. This trail travels through what I believe to be one of the last pure prairies in Texas. Central Texas today is widely covered with Ash Juniper, Mesquite and Live Oak Trees. It wasn’t always that way. Due to over production, lack of burn off and over grazing of the land the prairie grasses struggle to maintain a foothold with the other stuff that are not native to the prairie. But here is about as true a prairie as I have seen.

The Prairie at Balcones Canyonlands

In Texas the views are great. That is the best thing about the lack of trees. From the Highpoint in the prairie you can see for miles

The trail the travels along the top of the cliff or here “Balcone” which is Spanish for Balcony. This comes from the fact that the cliffs don’t fall away suddenly but descend in a series of steps which gives the appearance of balconies in a theater. At the base near the end of the hike is the only water fall in the refuge.

Waterfall at Balcones Canyonlands
Balcones Canyonlands
Example of the “Balcones” or terraced hills

Warbler Vista Unit: Now Balcones is a twofer… one day two hikes. About a twenty minute drive along RM 1431 and one comes to the Warbler Vista Unit at Lago Vista Texas. Although not as large and containing much easier trails the views here are phenomenal. There are outstanding views of Lake Travis which is the reservoir for the city of Austin.

Now the Texas Road numbering system is about as perplexing as the ribbon ramps and roads along the freeways. There are County Roads and State and National highways. But then there are the FM (Farm to Market) and RM (Ranch to Market) roads somewhere in between. I really haven’t figured out the difference between those two or those two and a state highway as far as quality of the road, And some of the RM and FM routes are as long as or longer then the state highways, and of better quality, so I dunno. They all get me where I need to go so maybe I am just reading to much into it. Interestingly enough at the parks you have numbered Park Roads leading to and through the facilities.

Lake Travis from Warbler Vista

Although I am missing North Carolina it appears that the Hill Country is going to give me some challenging days.

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