Best Trail For Wildlife Observation
South Llano River State Park
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Distance: 7.20 Miles
This state park on the southwestern edge of the Hill Country has over 16 miles of hiking trails, virtually all of which were former ranch roads. Evidence of the old ranch can be seen throughout the park, especially the old windmill which still draws water and the adjacent abandoned water trough. I hiked a total of 7.2 miles by essentially walking up a 500-foot hill and along the western edge of the park, then to the windmill and finally back via the middle trails which loosely follow the South Llano River. During most of the year this branch of the river is actually dry, so that the trail crosses back and forth several times through the rocky riverbed. This park is particularly oriented towards wildlife observation, with a good number of ground blinds and 10-foot tower stands available for viewing all sorts of critters. I hiked during mid-day so didn't actually see any wildlife but I saw plenty of tracks of raccoons, huge deer, and turkey. The least welcome feature of this park is the electric fence which follows along just two or three feet from the side of much of the trail. The electric fence stands between the trails and some of the most interesting geography such as the high vertical cliffs near the middle portion of the trail. For the most part, the trail is in the full sun, although there is a fair amount of shade around. All in all a great combination of hiking and (if you time it right) wildlife observation. At the entrance to the park itself is a little swimming hole and also a long water-filled portion of the river, which might be great for wading in after a long hike.