Short hike for when you're looking for some solitude
Steck Valley Greenbelt
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Distance: 1.52 Miles
Duration: 1 hour, 4 minutes
This was a short hike at an area I had never been to. We did not see anyone else while we were out, though there were several places where we could hear noise from the roads or houses surrounding the area. We began at the trailhead at the end of Hyridge Dr, hiked to the end of the trail off of Great Hills Trl, turned around, hiked a bit towards 360, turned around again when the path became narrow because a cool spider had built a large web in the trees across the trail and we did not want to disturb it, then hiked down towards Steck Ave and back up to where we started.
We noticed a few smaller trails branching out from the main trail. We did not go down any of those. For the most part. the trail is well-defined. The only confusing portion we encountered was nearing Steck Ave when the trail disappears into a creekbed for awhile.
There were a couple of creek crossings, but no water at this time. I'm unsure how easy it would be to navigate it when there is water in the creeks.
Solitude in the middle of a neighborhood
Copperfield Nature Trail
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Distance: 6.63 Miles
Duration: 2 hours, 27 minutes
I just discovered this place. I started at Copperfield Park off of Yager near Parmer and hiked the whole length back to Yager, where I turned around and hiked the whole thing in reverse (I could have continued along Yager back to the park, but I where's the fun in that?). I was out for two and a half hours and only saw nine other people (four groups of two and other solo hiker), so I had a lot of solitude. Even though you never really forget you're close to homes and businesses (sometimes, you are practically in someone's backyard), there is still plenty of solitude.
Most of the trail follows creeks (Walnut Creek and a smaller creek that feeds into Walnut Creek), which had plenty of water in them today. There are several small waterfalls as well, which is nice. It is mostly wooded, so this would provide shade on a sunny day. Around where the smaller creek joins Walnut Creek, there is an interesting limestone wall with vegetation growing out of it and (today, at least) small springs that drip water down it.
The terrain isn't too tough, but it also isn't super easy. There are a few steep portions that would give people with knee problems trouble and one part that is on par of the creek bed which could get slippery in wetter weather.
There are two segments of this trail: The longer segment that runs from Copperfield Park to the Trotwood entrance of the trail and a shorter segment that runs from an entrance on Peggotty Place back to Yager. In between, you have to walk on a street through a neighborhood. The shorter segment of the trail was a lot less interesting to me than the longer segment, especially the last 0.3 miles approaching Yager: This part is just a path between two fence lines.
My phone died ten minutes into my hike, so I only got a couple of not-that-interesting pictures. I will return to take more pictures in the future.
Easy hike, didn't see many people
Williamson County Regional Park
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Distance: 5.18 Miles
Duration: 1 hour, 50 minutes
I hiked the Jim Rogers and Granite Trails today, both very easy trails. I enjoyed the Jim Rogers trail the most; it was more nature-y (but still backs up to a neighborhood at some points, so you never get the feeling that you're totally out in the wild). I saw wildlife, including a cute fawn, and hardly any other hikers/bikers. I did notice many smaller, less-developed trails branching from the main Jim Rogers trail, so I do plan to come back when I am better dressed for them (sturdier shoes and long pants) and explore more.
Good trail for observing plants and animals
Buescher State Park
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Distance: 4.71 Miles
Duration: 2 hours, 23 minutes
Most of the trails at this park are closed due to the fires, but the blue trail is still open and it makes the trip from Austin worth it. Most of the trail is shaded. You'll see a ton of plant and animal life (I saw many lizards and toads among fallen leaves) and it smells really nice.
There are a few times the trail crosses a small creek. Be aware of this: You'll get a little muddy and perhaps wet depending on how much the creek is flowing and how good (or not good) you are and leaping from shallow are to shallow area.
The short CCC Crossover Trail is also open. It's a super quick hike, but still interesting. The stonework is fun to look at, especially since portions of it have been overgrown with moss and lichen.
The park is rather quiet. I know there were a lot of people there while I was, but I didn't see many others. (Perhaps they were all near the camping areas.)
At the end of the blue trail there is a scenic overlook, which is a nice place to watch the sun set. You can also get to this area by driving on the main park road.
Good jogging trail with interesting sights
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Distance: 3.01 Miles
Duration: 34 minutes
I went out to the Mueller Trails to jog today (my last day of vacation before I have to return to work-- boo hoo). I began at Mueller Lake, looped around, and jogged down to the Southwest Greenway portion of the trails.
Most of the trails I jogged on today were crushed granite. They aren't very wide, which poses a problem when a lot of people are using them (there were many people out this morning), walking side-by-side. There were a couple of time I had to jog off the trail to pass around groups. Still, I enjoyed my jog. This is not somewhere to go if you want solitude.
The two ponds I jogged around (Mueller Lake and the pond in the Southwest Greenway) were nice to look at. The one in the Southwest Green way has some nice man-made waterfalls.
The Southwest Greenway area was especially interesting: There are gardens with signs telling about them (it looked to be native plans and educational information about them-- I'll have to come back in the Spring to see them in their glory) as well as three large metal sculptures: A sphere, a rocket ship, and a spider.