Shady, Now with bathrooms
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Distance: 2.80 Miles
Google directed me to park at the intersection of Firefly & Onion Creek Dr. And, to be fair, there's a sign there that says "Onion Creek Park." However, there are no trails anywhere near the sign. The main entrance/parking lot is at Onion Creek Dr and Vine Hill.
The park folks have added a bathroom and playground since the original write-up, but no trial map (this has been a theme lately--the city puts up a map kiosk... and then leaves it empty. Why???)
TO ACCESS THE TRAIL: from the parking lot, head down toward the creek. You'll see a well-worn (but unmarked) trail on your right with a gate across it--that's the greenbelt. It runs parallel to the creek, though the creek isn't visible from the main trail. By ~5 in the afteroon, the first ~1/3 of the trail is wonderfully shady, and about another 1/3 is part-shade. The far end is less maintained, narrower, and more exposed.
THE GOOD: Shade! Can't have too much of it in Austin, especially in the summer. Also, a reasonable amount of foot traffic and dogs. It's not full of people, but there are enough on a weeknight to feel safe. The dog density was fine (for me)--a few dogs, but not hordes of them.
THE BAD: Lots of poison ivy--mostly avoidable, since the trail is pretty wide at the beginning. But it does lean into the trail, and is a little closer than I'd like as the trail narrows. The petering out of the shade is also a downer. Also, it was crazy humid--not sure if it's always that way due to the creek, or just today's weather. And I got some bug bites--a combo of chiggers and gnats, I think? Might be the warm winter + wet spring? Maybe August is less insectoidal.
Lastly, the empty neighborhood (not part of the trail, but of course you can walk down the streets) is kinda neat--lots of lovely mature trees and green grass, but virtually no shrubs or brush. It's the most park-like park I've seen in such a large space a while. Not sure if the city mows periodically to keep the brush and saplings down or what, but it's pleasantly Arcadian. Next time, I would plan to start by walking the neighborhood and then the greenbelt, to get more steps.
venture off the trail...
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Distance: 1.00 Mile
Duration: 1 hour
There is some decent singletrack if you venture off the main trails. You will have to cross the creek a few times (once on the trail) in order to get to the majority of the good singletrack.
Once you see the Onion Creek play ground the start of the trail is towards the creek, about halfway in between the playground and the creek
-Horses use this trail a lot... keep your eyes peeled for their remnants
-There are some rocky areas on the trails
-Nothing is marked
-If you are experience and looking for a techincal ride, this is not the trail for you
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Distance: 5.00 Miles
I grew up in the neighborhood around here so I spent a good deal of time wandering these trails. There usually aren't very many people around here and the creek always seems to have some water in it. Years ago I heard a story about a ghostly white horse that used to haunt this creek long ago. So far, it only seems haunted by maybe a few kids and some stray pets.