McKinney Roughs 1-3-2020


The view from the top of the park
Winter view

The first blog written in 2020 of a short hike that my friend BJ and I took. 2020 sounds like something out of a science fiction movie.

We hadn’t walked in a while and originally, we were going to hike at Reimers Ranch as she has never been there before. But, due to an unplanned delay on her end, we ended up at McKinney Roughs as it was closer to her house in Bastrop. I really like walking at the Roughs as the trails are pretty interesting with a mix of wide and narrow, shaded and unshaded, easy walking to very rough footing and major changes of contours which always seem to be uphill. Not only that, the Check In Office sells ice cream, a tasty reward for the end of the walk.

Riverside Trail

As the pictures show, the Roughs very much have their winter coats on with almost everything a shade of grey and brown and not very much green. Even so, we did find a couple of patches of flowers, namely Copper Canyon Daisy that were still showing their pretty faces.

Copper Canyon Daisy

It was an absolutely gorgeous day. The sun was shining and the temperature was around a mild 72 degrees, just right for walking and very little breeze to talk of. We came across several people, all with dogs and stopped to chat to a couple of them. With such beautiful weather, I am not surprised that other people were out and about.

We decided to take the Riverside trail with the intention of turning off onto Valley View but decided to stay on Riverside and as the name suggests, it does eventually take us down to the Colorado River. As it happens, this river does have a lot of water in it as compared to the Pedernales at Reimers Ranch which is running very low.

The trail runs parallel to the river although the views are not very clear due to the brush and trees. We came across our early acquaintances and this time, they had ventured out onto the Roughs which are a bunch of rocks that form little islands in the river. Their dogs were thoroughly enjoying the water. We followed the river and at one point spotted cows across on the other side. We had been wondering why the grass on that side was so well trimmed and quickly found out why.

The Park people have done a lot of work on the trails, at least on the major ones like the one we were on and the walking was very easy. It got a little more difficult as we went down the hill towards the river as the ground changed to very loose pebbles making it a little tricky. This happens a lot as with the changing contours of the land, the various and different layers of materials become exposed.

From Riverside, we took Bluff Trail Loop which started us on the way back to the car park. As Riverside had been flat and then downhill, so Bluff Trail Loop is all uphill and much narrower and rockier to walk on. Eventually, this trail turned into Ridge which brought us back to the starting point. We never see much wildlife as we are probably way too noisy but we did get to see the buzzard in flight.

We were exploring the flowers gardens in the main Campus and I heard someone call my name. Looking up, I saw a couple of ladies in front of me and the taller of the two introduced herself and her friend. Turns out that she was an ex soccer player and recognized me from when I was involved in the Women’s Soccer program in Austin. We chatted for a while mainly about the beauties of this specific park. Interesting the people that you run into while out on these hikes. True to form, BJ turned down my offer of buying her an ice cream and left to drive home. Me, I didn’t have her will power and treated myself to a Nutty Bar which disappeared before I even drove out of the parking lot. Altogether, we covered 4.6 miles of very enjoyable walking.

Written 1/7/2020

Austin Pond Society 25th Pond Tour for 2019.


Yellow Crowned Night Heron nest with three babies.

The Austin Pond Society held their annual pond tour over the weekend of June 1-2 returning after missing out on having a tour last year, 2018. The size of the tour was also cut back to a more manageable number easily covered on each day, Saturday for the South Side of the Colorado River and Sunday for the north side.

The tour had a few of the spectacular favorites plus several new ponds which have never been on the tour before. All, regardless of the size, had something to offer in the way of beauty and in some cases, originality. One of the highlights included a nest of Yellow Crowned Night Herons complete with three babies that appeared to almost be ready to fly the roost. Ironic that one of the pond owners natural enemies could hold so much fascination when babies are involved.The night pond that has been on the tour several times before was just as spectacular as it has always been.

If you click on a picture, it will enlarge and you can use the side arrows to move along. Use the “escape” key to return to normal size.

I have put together two slideshows which takes about twenty minutes to view but is well worth it as it shows the spectacular beauty of ponds of different sizes and types and all of the accompanying work that has gone into the landscaping and plants and flowers that make up the whole garden. One pond even had three live donkeys which attracted as much attention as the ponds for the younger members on the tour.

All in all, the tour was a resounding success and even though smaller than previous tours, has probably set a new standard in both number of ponds and quality.

Written 6/5/2019

Walking at McKinney Roughs 6-5-2017


DSC_5375I was desperate to get out on the trails again and after careful consideration opted to hike at McKinney Roughs. I really like the place and the trails are interesting and most of them have a lot of shade. That is always a plus here in Texas when the temperature can be hovering around 100 degrees in the summer. It was only in the 80’s on Saturday and very comfortable for hiking.

The trails were well groomed and it appeared that they had both been mowed and/or levelled to make for good walking. There are some advantages to being older as I paid my $2:00 and chatted to the lady behind the desk for a bit before heading out onto Coyote Road which is pretty much all downhill towards the river. Coyote Road has a trail washout as it connects to Roadrunner so it is not possible to make that complete loop. Instead, I took Riverside and literally followed it all the way alongside the Colorado River.

Just before I hit Riverside, a whole bunch of horses came into view, all of the riders were ladies and all chatting up a storm. We exchanged pleasantries as we passed and I got a few pictures of them. I think we have crossed paths before.

That part of the trail on Riverside is very pleasant although there are not many clear views of the river. Instead of heading back up Riverside, I opted to take Cypress which also runs alongside of the river and again is a very pleasant trail. I found a lone fisherman and walked down to chat with him for a bit. We discussed the fishing and he volunteered he was from Houston on a day trip to Austin with his sons. He had caught two so far and had returned them to the water but was not having much luck at his present site. He bemoaned the fact that his boot had fallen apart and indeed it had as he showed me that the entire sole of the boot had come off. He had it with him and was going to attempt a repair when he got home. I bade him farewell and good luck with his fishing and his shoe repair and continued upwards on Cypress.

DSC_5374

Prior to turning away from the river, I took a few pictures of the river itself and discovered that there were livestock on the opposite bank who had come down to take their fill of the water. Pictures below are of both the river and the livestock.

The Cypress trail when it leaves the river is nothing but an uphill climb even when it branches onto Pine Ridge. In many places, one encounters the man made trail steps to help with the climb. Luckily, it was all under the shade of the trees and actually was very pleasant and not too difficult to manoeuvre.

I followed Pine Ridge until it joined Bobcat Ridge and took that all the way back to the Parking Lot. Again, a lot of it was uphill walking but not overly difficult. On the way back, I was on the side of the park that now has the Zip Line and took a picture of one of the Towers showing people waiting their turn to take the ride. I just missed taking a picture of a couple of them as they were just completing the run as I came into view, accompanied by their screams as they zoomed through the air. It sounded like they were having fun but I think I will leave that to the younger generation and keep my feet firmly on the ground.

DSC_5395

Leaving the Zip Liners behind, I continued along the trail and arrived back in the Parking Lot which was beginning to fill up. A couple of middle aged ladies parked next to me driving a big old truck and one of them got out. She was dressed very nicely and I asked her if she was going hiking dressed like that and with those shoes on. She doubled over laughing and told me she just had to give me a “big ole hug” for making her laugh. I pointed out I was hot and sweaty but she gave me a hug anyway. She said they were going to a wedding and I remembered seeing that one was scheduled when I had gone to the office to pay my fees. Anyway, she made my day. A perfect end to a great hike.

I took lots of pictures of the flowers and trails and have posted them in separate blogs.

Use this link for the Wildflowers https://wordpress.com/post/pondblog2011.mlblogs.com/34817

and this one for the Trails
https://wordpress.com/post/pondblog2011.mlblogs.com/34826

McKinney Roughs 12-13-2016


dsc_4694I was reading my e-mails as I usually do first thing in the morning. There are normally anywhere between 100 and 150 every day mostly blog related. It usually takes a good hour to go through them all. I glanced at the weather link on my computer and saw that the day was supposed to get in the 70’s and would be sunny and the hiking itch suddenly was beginning to get to me. I thought about it for about 10 seconds and told myself that a good hike was just what I should do after the inactivity of the past couple of weeks due mainly to the wet weather.

That was all I needed in the way of encouragement so I went through my usual preparations, water, apple’s, camera, sunscreen and a change of clothes and loaded up the car. First though, I emailed my walking buddy to see if she wanted to join me apologizing for the last minute arrangements and received a phone call back from her saying that she had a party she had to go to even though hiking would have been her first choice.

I drove to McKinney Roughs and entered through the main entrance. There were only a couple of cars in the lot and one couple and their dog were just heading out as I went through my usual preparations, boots, suntan lotion, camera belt, backpack, water bottle and hat. Grabbing my walking sticks I headed towards the office to sign in and pay my $2.00. On the way, I walked past the flower garden they have planted that attract so many butterflies and took a couple of pictures of them. Butterflies are frustrating camera subjects as they either fly off just when you are ready to take the picture or have their wings closed and waiting  for the right moment just as they open them can sometimes take a while and they always choose to settle on the flower furthermost away from you.

I decided that I would walk Coyote Road going down and Riverside coming back up. In retrospect, I should have done that in reverse as Riverside is one big uphill climb and would have been much easier going down. I hit Coyote Road and the very first thing I noticed was the myriad of footprints and red flag markers along the trail. The footprints both human and horse were beginning to dry and made for very difficult walking and quite hazardous as it was real easy to turn an ankle on the very rough terrain. I plodded on taking great care where I stepped which slowed me down even slower than I normally walk but as it was turning out to be a hot day and very pleasant to walk in, I was not really complaining. I passed a couple of places where the horse riders can rest their animals and take a rest themselves. It’s great to see how LCRA as the park owners try to cultivate an active interest with the people that use their parks.

I passed a clump of very small flowers and on the way coming back, there were still a lot of the little yellow daisies on the level part of Riverside. The trees are beginning to turn very brown and many have already shed their leaves. Everything has a decidedly winter look to it with more browns than greens as you will see by the video. Still, it was great to get out after the past two weeks of relative inactivity. I had the trails to myself and didn’t see any other hikers. I guess the people in the parking lot ahead of me took different trails than me.

Enjoy the video.

McKinney Roughs Slideshow 12-13-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.