Hiking Along Barton Creek

by Scott

View Barton Creek Hike in a larger map

Growing up at my parent’s house in south Austin I spent many summer days hiking, biking, and swimming all over Barton Creek. I think it’s one of Austin’s best undiscovered features. I’m not talking about Barton Springs pool which everyone knows about but the park and wilderness area upstream from it. I remember the first time a friend showed me the super secret path down to the creek, at the time I felt like a new secret world was just opened up to me. We spent the next several summers down there for entire days at a time. There are a few bike trails down there that are perfect for maintain biking. You can choose to stay on the north side of the creek where the trails are relatively flat or try the south side for a little more adventure where with more rocks, turns, and jumps.

A few weeks ago Tina and I spent the weekend at my parents and I was lucky enough to be able to share Barton Creek with her. Since this was August, in Texas, it was hot! So we left early in the morning before it got too hot from my parents neighborhood, Travis Country, and hiked down to the creek. Unfortunately it hadn’t rained for a while so the creek was bone dry. But that didn’t stop us! I showed her one of the many springs along the creek, and we stopped at Twin Falls. I loved this place, it’s really great natural waterfall. The water has cut several channels in the rock so it has everything Jacuzzi pools, flat shallow water, deep water, and there is a secrete cave behind one of the water waterfalls!

Twin Falls Panorama
Panoramic view of Twin Falls along Barton Creek when it’s dry as a bone. Photo taken August 2010.

Hopefully we’ll go back there later this year when it has water (and isn’t too cold yet). We kept hiking and made it up to the official trail head near Highway 360 and Westbank drive. Around there we found some flowing water near a natural dam where we stopped to cool off for a bit.

One thing that amazed me was how many other people we saw down there. We were down along the creek for several hours and probably saw 50 people down there. Some were running, some were taking their dogs for a walk, and others were just hiking around like us. When I was a teenager and the creek was dry like that it would be completely empty, not a soul around. I guess it’s gotten a lot more popular in the intervening decade. I’d expect it to be ‘crowded’ when there’s water down there now.

The sign reads "No Trespassing, Travis Country Residents and Guests Only"

The other thing that I noticed was how well maintained the trail from Travis Country down to Barton Creek is. When my friend first showed me the secret way down there it was a hard to follow path where parts of it were non-existent. You just keep heading north and you’ll eventually find a trail or the creek. Now days it’s a well maintained trail where you can walk two or three abreast the whole way. Someone has taken time to trim back the underbrush, it’s easy to follow the entire way down. Talking with my parents it seems there is some conflict in the neighborhood about the path down there. The neighborhood is concerned with outsiders using the path because there is very limited parking, and some criminal mischief around the area. They posted a sign at the entrance saying neighborhood residence and guests only. You use to have to hop over a barbed wire fence to get to the trail, I’d think that would work better than a sign.

You can see more pictures we took while on our hike.