Welcome back from the holiday, everyone. I needed an extra cup of coffee this morning to get going. Why does the first day back from a holiday always have to be so hard?
Brandon and I stayed around Austin for the 4th this year, getting caught up on household tasks and watching movies. It was low key, and lovely in that regard. One of the highlights of our weekend was touring the Greenbelt, a city park in Austin that follows Barton Creek all the way to its entrance into Lady Bird Lake.
To get there: We headed south on MoPac from downtown and took the 360 exit, continuing south until we came to a pull-off area on the west side of the frontage road, where we parked behind a long line of cars. (For more detailed parking instructions, see map at end of this post.)
There were a lot of people out, partially thanks to it being a holiday weekend, and partially due to two nearby swimming holes: Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls.
The start of the trail is clearly marked and easy to find. Just follow the masses.
At the start of the trail, you enter a juniper canopy where the elevation is slightly higher and there are beautiful views of the surrounding greenbelt.
We had no idea where we were going, having never hiked this part of the trail before, but we followed the kids holding rafts and surfboards. They looked like they must be heading towards water.
And sure enough they were. As you hike lower and lower towards the creek, the trail widens and the creek comes into view. If the creek is flowing well, you can begin to hear the rush of water as you make your descent. Austin has gotten unusually high amounts of rain lately, and our creeks and rivers and lakes are full, and Barton Creek was coming on strong.
The water was just the right temperature for wading and I was glad I wore my water shoes.
I had a little fun with my aperture settings here…
I can’t fully describe how gratifying it was to see the creek full and flowing. After the past few years of drought, the sound of rushing water is like music to my ears.
The point in the pictures above was about a half a mile down the trail from the parking area. After a little bit of wading, we pushed on until we came to the first of the swimming holes: Twin Falls.
This spot was wildly popular, and everyone and their mother was out enjoying the holiday. My recommendation would be to get here early and stake out your spot on the rocks before the rush!
We didn’t stop here but kept hiking down the trail, watching the water get deeper and form crystal pools surrounded by limestone. This woman had brought her snorkel gear and was scanning the riverbottom. It looked like a great way to enjoy the water!
We pressed on from here and eventually came to these falls and pool. Trooper was in the mood for a swim.
His facial expression while he’s swimming always cracks me up. It is simultaneously joy-filled and deathly fearful.
He loves swimming, and for someone with such short legs, he’s pretty good at it. But every time he looks up at me, there is fear in his eyes.
Mommy, save me!
Eventually we came to Sculpture Falls, the trail’s pièce de résistance.
Two miles from the parking area, this is a perfect place to take a rest and have a picnic. That had been our plan but the park was so crowded we had to forego this plan…and not to mention, Trooper was in special form.
Getting out and seeing the countryside–albeit, in the middle of the city–was a great way to spend the holiday and celebrate our nation and this land we call home. In total we hiked over four miles, which was a delightful way to earn our 4th of July ice cream. And being the dutiful patriots that we are, we had to have ice cream–to not eat ice cream on the 4th of July would be un-American.
Info to file away for future use:
- Parking: off Mopac frontage road by 360 exit
- Best swimming hole: Sculpture Falls
- Best picnic spot: Sculpture Falls
- Time required: 1-2 hours
- Distance: 2 miles to Sculpture Falls; 4 miles round trip
PS. One thing I really liked about this trail was that it was shady, and I didn’t need as much sunscreen.
Here are some maps of the area:
Hope you get out and enjoy this one day if you haven’t already.