Really beautiful views, trails a bit mixed
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Distance: 5.50 Miles
We hiked Milton Reimers Ranch for the first time today, and it really stands out compared to more run-of-the-mill hill country trails. The trail started along a narrow, deep ravine lined with maidenhair ferns--very dramatic and romantic. The flora is very arid--most of the plants here bite, from agarita to tasajillo to the copious prickly pear cactus. Even the live oaks here (Quercus fusiformis) have prickly leaves. When the trail reaches the bluff above the Pedernales, you get a really stunning view of a bend in the river, which had plenty of water for a change and was an arresting aqua-green. There are tumbled piles of boulders, small gushing streamlets, skeletons of dead trees, and plentiful river views.
The main(?) trail had lots of nice interpretive signage about local wildlife and natural history, and a crushed granite surface. But we only ever saw one trail marker, which didn't actually correlate to anything on our map, and although we were trying to follow the "primitive" trail, it kept disappearing and merging with the main trail. You can't get really lost, though, as all the trails are roughly parallel, between the river and the park road.
As a side note, the trail(s) touch lots of different access points, all with restrooms and picnic tables. This has to be the best trail in Austin for people with bladder issues. Or people who like to picnic a lot. There were lots of benches, too. Other than the fact that our trail kept petering out, it is a really remarkably hospitable park.
On a mild and brilliantly blue January day, we saw about 3 other groups of people, mostly rock climbers. Plenty of solitude, picnic tables notwithstanding. Will definitely come back for more hiking and for kayaking (before the river dries up again).
Very scenic near the cave and river.
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Distance: 4.00 Miles
I spent a few hours at this new county park the other day and found it very enjoyable. There is some very pretty scenery in the small canyon where the rock climbing takes place, as well as along the Pedernales River. There are many miles of trails that are open for hiking, but hikers may find them a little frustrating because they were designed by mountain bikers, and therefore definitely do not go in a straight line! Some of my favorite areas so far include the Grotto: 30 21.782 98 07.418, the Bluff: 30 21.781 98 07.516, and the Beach: 30 22.082 98 07.870. Also, if you go to the bluff and then walk North about 100 yards, look to the South and in the distance your can see the set for the movie "The Alamo". (Take binoculars.) It will undoubtedly be more crowded on the weekends, but when I was there on a Thursday, I saw perhaps a half-dozen people in the climbing area near the cave, and no-one on the hike/bike trails. It's also a good place for bird-watching.