I Can't Believe It's So Close To The Mall!
Barton Creek - Upper North
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Distance: 2.40 Miles
This was a great hike that until Saturday seemed too close to home, and too close to a major mall and highways, that I almost crossed it off the list. But my 4.5-year-old son and I had only 2 hours to go for a hike before lunch, so I decided to give it a shot and lowered my expectations accordingly, expecting to not quite get away from the neighborhoods and malls that surround it. The first 6/10 mile is not terribly steep, but steep enough that I had to hold my son's hand. FYI, once you get to the bottom of the hill the signs direct you to the left (south) but if you turn right instead onto a smaller footpath and follow Barton Creek, you will eventually come to another waterfall that is large and loud, and so far as I know, is unnamed. (We didn't go there on this particular hike, but go there fairly often from my back yard in the Lost Creek neighborhood).
There were quite a few people on bikes and walking dogs but it was surprisingly quiet and uncongested for being in the middle of an urban area. I forgot that the highway was so close by and really could not hear it at all at creek level. Also, once past the first 6/10 mile, we could no longer see houses or other evidence of development (aside of course from the bathrooms and signs along the broad, well-worn trail). So you won't really forget where you are, but it is a surprisingly quiet and lush setting for its location. There are many little side trails carved out that will be fun to explore once some other time. My son really enjoyed the map we downloaded from this site. I put it in a sandwich bag and he "navigated" us to Slanted Falls, by which time we had to turn around to make it home for lunch. But he's clearly disappointed that we weren't able to see Sculpture Falls after Dad hyped it up so much, so we're definitely out to hit this trail again soon.