Getting there: From MoPac take the Koenig Lane/FM 2222 exit and head
west. Turn right on Balcones Drive and heard north. Turn left onto Hart Lane and then
turn left again almost immediately onto Westside Drive. Look for the small parking area on
the left at the base of a small rock face.
Heading in a counter clockwise manner, the trail starts to the south along the ridge that rises above the parking area.
Allen Park is a small neighborhood-type park that is part of
the Travis County system of parks. Despite its small size, it features an enjoyable loop
of easy hiking and some great facilities for picnics. From the trailhead at the parking
area along Balcones, the trail is crushed gravel and twists and turns up the
short rock bluff overlooking the parking area.
There are a few trail segments consisting of steps where steepness of the terrain required it.
A set of stairs leads off to the left soon after starting. Ignore them for now, I'll
be coming down them on the way back. Instead continue to the right along the trail as it
hugs the edge of the bluff heading south. Once to the edge of the park property the trail
turns to the east and slightly uphill. The trail will pass near the backyard fence of a
couple of houses, one of which serves as territory for a couple of dogs none too pleased
with the visit. But they are held in check by a wood privacy fence and the trail will
soon turn away from the houses and back into the heart of the park.
On our trip the turn away from the houses coincided with a small meadow opening which
sported lots of wildflowers. The primary showman in late April was the Indian Blanket,
though there were plenty of other varieties as well. The path leads in a straight line to the
northern edge of the park. Farther up, a turn to the left will lead to a Pavilion that I'll encounter
The interior of the park features small meadows with plenty of cacti and wildflowers. Quite a surprise.
When the trail runs into the northern boundary of the park it turns to the right and
begins to descend towards Balcones. There is plenty of loose rock on this section of
the hike so be careful. To the left lies the property of a church.
At the bottom of the descent, the trail turns to the right and into an opening. It's easy
to see that this area has been used for a dumping ground and/or a construction staging
area in the past. There's some trash, though thankfully not very much, and lots of what
appears to be bits of asphalt on the ground. Although not the most picturesque portion
of the hike, it does have it's high points. Though not as numerous, the wildflowers down
here included some beautifully large examples of Indian Blanket and Coreopsis.
The ample tree and brush cover at the center of the park makes one easily forget all of the roads and homes nearby.
From this point I retraced my steps back up the hill to the church property line. There I proceeded forward
down the slope on the other side of the ridge. A side trail to the right leads to the church parking lot.
The trail veers to the left and into the main picnic area, which includes a large pavilion that can provide shelter
from a brief shower. There's also a playground-type area here with a few things for the kids
climb on and under.
To finish up the hike follow the trail to the opposite side of the playground area and
descend the steps that I passed early on in the hike. Then retrace your steps to the
trailhead. I spent 37 minutes strolling through the .7 miles of Allen Park. Prior to starting the hike I was
not expecting very much, just a chance to walk a little. The park provided more enjoyment than normally one
would consider from a 10 acre neighborhood park.