Today we found one of the coolest hikes we ever done in the city of Austin. Stephenson Preserve is part of the City Of Austin’s Central and Eastern Preserve groups, but it doesn’t seem like the Austin has done much to care for the park. Quite the contrary – It seems the locals have stepped up to help maintain and do some interesting improvements to the park.
We celebrated quite a few things about our day’s adventure… aside from the unmarked rat’s nest of trails, there was the intermittent art work, wigwams and a cool bike/motorcycle course. It seems it used to be a stomping ground for gasoline powered recreation vehicles at one time. Perhaps it still is for some daring locals.
We used a GPS with a trail of breadcrumbs feature. I’m not sure how good we would do in this place relying on the ol’ innate sense of direction. The network of unmarked trails twist, turn and put you out in a prairie, then into dense woods, then along side a pen surrounded by old rock walls used for ranching back in the day. The elevation changes are not too drastic and the trail is well worn and easy to follow, but a wrong turn can put you in a spot where you will need to duck through branches or scramble up a hill of loose rock.
For hikers that don’t feel like a drive, but still want a mild adventure in the middle of Austin, this place is definitely for you. If you can see your position on a device in relation to the surrounding roads, you’ll eventually find your way back to the trailhead.
The park is in in between Westgate and Brodie on the south side of William Cannon. We parked on a street for a small off-shoot neighborhood that faces the park called Stage Coach Trail. There were no “no parking” signs to be found and the neighbors seemed friendly.
Check out the gallery of installation pieces by local artists of South Austin. The best part though? There’s a good chance you won’t run into anyone else out there – probably the main reason we’ll be heading back.