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Hamilton Greenbelt

 

Sunday, March 29, 2009

 

 

One thing about Austin, Texas:  the area around the city has been growing very rapidly in the last several years, and that has led to quite a bit of urban sprawl.  Even so, Austinians have given back quite a bit in return.  There are many, many miles of nature trails around the city and its’ suburbs - I’ve heard about 50 miles, but I think it’s quite a bit more than that at this point.  These trails can be used for a myriad of activities to include not just hiking, but jogging and mountain biking too.  For me today though, I opted for hiking in the company of my mother.

 

This particular hike is one which is on the Austin Explorer website (http://www.austinexplorer.com/Hiking/HikeDetails.aspx?HikeID=356), a great resource which provides more details about this particular hike (to include the sections we didn’t do), as well as many other sections and trails.  There’s also a page put up by a volunteer community group which is committed to constructing and maintaining trails all around the city (http://www.austintrails.org).  Both websites are well worth a visit if you’re interested, as they provide a good amount of information.

 

We parked at one of the trailheads for this hike, and picked up the trail as it went through a pleasant little park complete with a man-made little waterfall, picnic tables, and park benches.

 

 

The trail basically meanders just alongside the right bank of the Hurst Creek as it flows downstream in a mostly eastern direction in this stretch (it eventually turns northeast and drains into the Lake Travis portion of the Colorado River).  With this stream beside you, you can put your troubles out of your mind for a little while (if any barking dogs aren’t too annoying), and be soothed by the sounds of water trickling over little waterfalls as you go.

 

Incidentally, if you follow along the entirety of this particular trail, you’ll travel about 3 miles according to the Austin Explorer.  We didn’t do the entire thing, but there is an offshoot of the trail which they refer to as a “primitive” trail (formed only by footsteps) toward the back end of it.  This looks to be a lollipop loop which adds to the trail by about 1/2.

 

The first intersection we came to had a natural waterfall where you could go over the creek and on to what looked like another path which went around the other bank of the Hurst Creek and through part of a neighborhood.  Most of this trail, in fact, borders on the backyards of houses but you often would not know it. 

 

The waterfall is pretty sweet.  It’s eroded the rock in a circular pattern, and it was an interesting sight to see as it was kind of a dividing mark between what had been a walk through the woods and the beginning of more urban stretch.   Still (as eluded to before) if you stand atop this on the path you can pause and be mesmerized by the sounds of the water going over.

 

 

Having done this, we continued on the path we had taken, walking by some of the bluebonnet blooms which usher in the beginning of spring in Texas.  When you drive through the state at this time of year, you’ll almost always see vast swaths of them in the countryside, and they make for a great sight.  This year, however, I hadn’t seen as many.  Here’s one…

 

 

Presently we came to a decline which took us down a paved portion of the path and across another stream which drains into the Hurst Creek.   Upon crossing this you can veer right, which will apparently take you to an alternate trailhead, or you can veer left, which will continue on the main trail. 

 

We opted to go left, and immediately found ourselves veering in that direction again on a spur which led us to an incredibly nice little shaded picnic area to the east of the mouth of this stream where it meets the Hurst Creek.

 

 

Once emerging from this, we concluded our hike around a last circle in the path which contains the convergence for the path to the primitive section.  This will head off in a generally northeast direction up a little incline (for more details on this section, see the referenced Austin Explorer link above). 

 

As we concluded our hike by walking this last circle, we did stop and take the time to enjoy what would be our northernmost Hurst Creek overlook today before heading back.  Even after we had gotten back to the car and left though, the thought of this pleasant little trail lingered with me.  It’s a great hike to enjoy in the company of friends or family!

 

DIRECTIONS:

 

This hike is in Lakeway, Texas on the west side of Austin, and it can be arrived at via RR ( Ranch Road) 620.  We took 620 to Lakeway Boulevard and headed northwest.  Very soon (about a mile) you’ll come to the intersection with Lohman’s Crossing Road, which you’ll turn right (north) on if you come in this direction.  The parking area for this hike comes up fairly quickly on your right.