I called my friend BJ to see if she wanted to take a walk but she had other plans so I decided that I would go out on my own anyway. I figured that as we have not had any rain to talk of these past two months, I might be able to cross over Onion Creek to get to the trails on the other side. I have been to this park many times but have not been able to cross due to high water levels.
I set out early (for me) and arrived at the park around 9:30 am. As to be expected, there were already several cars ahead of me as I waited to pay my $3:00 and sign in. I made my way to the Lower Falls parking area which has a large swimming hole and was where I needed to cross the river.
I changed into my hiking boots and then geared up with my two camera harness and my backpack. I also carry two bottles of water as I had the experience of running out on a hike at Pedernales Falls on a hot day and I vowed not to let that happen again. I use Hydroflask metal bottles that are vacuum sealed to keep the contents cool. One contains 21 oz and the other at 24 oz. They work well and keep the contents very cool but they do add a bit more to the weight I carry on these hikes. Well worth it though.
I grabbed my walking poles without which, nowadays I would not do so well on the hikes and made my way towards Onion Creek. There is a very large expanse of limestone to cover before actually hitting the Creek and it is interesting to see how the water has worn it in different ways over the millions of years of its existence. I stopped to take pictures of the White Egrets including one that was in the shallow waters and was busy chasing something in the water. He put on quite a show. There was also what looked like a Willet doing his thing in another shallow. All this before I hit the river.
As I suspected, the pool was already busy with a lot of kids with their families already set up under the shade or in the water or camped out around the edge of the pool. Also visible were several large turtles although none were actually sunning probably due to the amount of activity going on around them. The kids of course were in the water both to cool down and to have fun. There is a lot for them to explore in the big pool.
The water in the Creek was very low and I had no trouble in crossing to get to the trails on the other side. The first thing I came across was a sign describing the Mill that used to stand on this spot. Remnants of steel rods and cut outs in the rocks are all that are left. I took the Homestead Trail wanting to walk the big loop which I deemed would be enough for one day. The trail was well worn and was shaded most of the way which was just as well as the temperatures were expected to reach 100 degrees later in the afternoon.
I came across the McKinney Homestead which was probably a very imposing structure in its day. It still retains an air of Southern beauty and one wonders what ghosts walk the ruins and what stories they can tell. Interesting that it was built by slaves although I guess I should not be too surprised.
I moved on along the trail until eventually I arrived back at the pool. By now even more families had arrived and there were more of them in the water. I took a couple of pictures and made my way back across the Creek.
Along the way on the trail, I had met several people including one couple that stopped to let me take their picture. There were others including a couple of young female runners using the trail to work out and a Father and Son out for a walk. A couple of bikes passed me as well as it is a multi use trail.
All in all, a very enjoyable hike. I covered 6 miles and by the time I was through around 1:30 pm, it was really warming up. Interestingly enough, even though I could hear them, I never really saw any birds or wildlife enough to take any pictures which is one of the reasons I carry the heavy telescopic lens and camera. There were not very many flowers. I only saw two.
I did hold an interesting conversation with a young man who I believe said his name was Jeng(?) who is a visiting student currently staying in Houston and was in Austin for a couple of days. He was trying to hit as many of the local parks as he could find so I directed him to my favorite Park, McKinney Roughs.
I plan on going back in the next few days to hit the trails that I have not yet hiked now that I can cross the river. This is southern Texas after all and the chances of any amount of rain in the summer that might make the river impassable are extremely remote.