We were looking for hiking options in East Austin when we stumbled across this place. I wish I had planned better because there are apparently regular bird counts and guided tours listed on the Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory website calendar. Admittedly, there is some odor, which is not surpising as it is a biosolids treatment plant. But this is such a nice space for wildlife, and it is very gracious that the city permits the public to enjoy birding here. The gentleman at the front gate was extremely helpful and provided us with a map which came in handy. We saw only four people in two hours. Ironically, we would have stayed longer but for the lack of restrooms--there are some in the administration building, but that is not always open during hiking hours.
Hornsby Bend is an interesting environmental research and wastewater treatment facility. There are some unimproved roads that you can drive or hike as well as some hiking trails that take you along the Colorado River. Along the ponds you can see many different types of birds, so you may run into some birdwatchers, too. The area where the wastewater treatment facility is is very smelly. Be prepared to gag while you hike.
Be sure to ask for a site map at the entrance to see where the trails run.
I was suprised at the scenery and solitude of this hike. The River Trail parallels the Colorado River. I parked just ouside the fence. I hiked to the left along side the large man made ponds .. lots of nice ducks .. I kept going South on the narrow road to the River Trail trailhead. This tail is 3 miles each way, 6 total. The first mile has more dense trees. Then there is an interesting huge greenhouse with algae ponds. From here going West was when the hike got even better. To the right of the trail is a large natural pond with lots of birds. The trail curves some .. after about 1 1/2 miles the jeep road trail has a 'Y'. The right follows the power lines and left is very scenic. Lots of river views. On a sunny Saturday only saw 3 other people. Note: this park is closed at sunset with gate locked.
Smells bad to the east, not much for river views. Great for bird watching. Worth going once maybe even twice. Isolation was kind of nice. Dont be afraid to drive in, looks like little paths but they are roads. Some paths not well labeled.
Very quiet and still - not many birds this morning, but a few nice black-necked stilts and great egrets. Scissor-tailed flycatchers. Smell wasn't bad - slight amonia tinge from time to time.
Warning: this park is part of a sewage treatment facility. I started hike north edge of pond. Signs warned of "digestive gasses - no smoking" There was a strong breeze and I started to get sick from the gasses. If you drive south of pond and park there are trails south of the ponds that don't have the odors. Very few views of river. Trail faily plain. Nice solitude though. Noise from planes and highways nearby.