Balcones Canyonlands – National Wildlife Refuge
The family headed out to the Balcones Canyonlands – why? – because there had to be a trail somewhere in that giant green polygon we always see over there on Google Maps.
I used Cow Creek road as the destination in the GPS to get us up to the area where the headquarters is located. It was Sunday and the gates were closed. Sure enough, there was a trail map in the glass case; however, the “You Are Here” was misleading. The location on the map was nowhere close to where I was standing.
We drove a little farther down 1431 and took a right on 1174. The only sanctioned trail in all the Balcones Canyonlands is just past Cow Creek road (328) on your right. Turn in where you see the sign for Doeskin Ranch Trails – Balcones Canyonlands. I’ve also included photos of the maps, so make your trip a little more efficient than ours.
View Balcones Canyonlands Wildlife Refuge in a larger map
The park offers five trails:
- Pond and Prairie = easy – .4 miles – mostly paved
- Creek Trail = easy – .7 miles
- Rimrock Trail = difficult – 2.2 miles – gravely, rocky switchbacks
- Shin Oak Trail = moderate – .5 mile – additional loop once up on the rim
- Indiangrass Trail = 1.5 mile – difficult back country walk – if looking for solitude.
We chose the Rimrock and I wished we’d also done Shinoak while already up on top.
It was a daunting task to get the child and stroller up the first 1/2 mile of trail. It’s about 300-400ft climb of mostly switchbacks until the top is reached.
Stunning and rewarding (especially with extra baggage) views on the top. It’s all easy terrain after your up on the rim. Take some time to soak it all in – maybe have a little lunch – before you head back down.
A huge hats-off to the Central Texas Trail Tamers for virtually all the trail construction.
For such a huge park, with such great hills and peaks, we didn’t see much else in the way of public access. With mostly for sale and no trespassing signs along drive in the park, we had hoped for a little more adventure.
Please comment if you know of any other cool access points in this park