Located along Anderson Mill Road at the intersection with Lime Creek Road, the Discovery Well Cave Preserve seems to be situated in a boisterous place. Surely a preserve should be more serene and not have so much traffic nearby. But the primary beneficiary of the preserve is the rare cave beetle Rhadine persephone.
Currently, the best parking and trailhead option is the adjacent Ranch at Cypress Creek Park. A short jaunt from the street parking here leads to a gate to enter the preserve.
When the Texas Department of Transportation was looking to expand Highway 183 due to increased usage a cave elsewhere containing the beetle had to be destroyed. To help mitigate the loss the department was required to obtain some land also containing the species that could be preserved and three caves found here were deemed suitable.
A typical view on the trails in the preserve. Lots of oaks with grasses and cacti in between.
The Texas Caves Conservancy
has partnered with the TXDOT, the City of Cedar Park and US Fish & Wildlife to establish a plan that will further develop the trails here and to establish a nature center with educational kiosks.
Currently, there are 3.5 miles of trails laid out on the preserve's 109 acres. Plans are to connect them with nearby trails in the adjoining neighborhoods to create a 5 mile system. Even in its current undeveloped state there is a much to be enjoyed here. The trail surface is a mixture of single track packed dirt and jeep trails. The preserve is flat.
Note the difference in the preserve land on the left from the other on the right. All of the Juniper has been cleared out.
The trails meander through small pockets of open grassland with prickly pear cactus sprinkled throughout. Clumps of live oaks occasionally provide scant shelter from the Sun.
An interesting feature of the land is the absence of Ashe Juniper (a.k.a. Cedar). Because Juniper is considered by many a water hog and the caves in the preserve are best kept moist for the animals that inhabit them, all of the Juniper has been cleared from the property. A startling contrast can be found along back fence line where Juniper continues to choke out most other vegetation outside of the preserve.
Cave openings large enough for a human to enter are protected by a locked metal gate. Water and small animals can come and go but the locked gate prevents disturbance of the animals and avoids wasteful search and rescue operations for misguided adventurers who might scramble down.