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Monthly Archives: April 2013

I’ve heard about Festival Beach for years and today was the perfect day to visit! Officially designated Edward Rendon Sr. Park at Festival Beach, this 500-acre park is an inviting place to stroll and relax.

The area is called “Festival Beach” because it was the primary venue for Austin Aqua Festival, which was held in Austin 1962-1998.

The park’s address is 2101 Jesse E. Segovia Street. We parked at the corner of East Avenue and Nash Hernandez Sr. Road (near the green arrow on this map), in the shadow of I-35.

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The boys couldn’t wait to explore!

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The trees are amazing.

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We walked east along the trail, which was not crowded at all on Saturday afternoon.

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This cypress tree deserved its own snapshot.

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Across the lake, you can see the beginnings of the new boardwalk. And our cute dog!

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We enjoyed this little deck. Another park visitor was fishing here.

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Along the trail, you will find this memorial to Tejano legend, Nash Hernandez, Sr.

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I couldn’t quit taking pictures of the trees!

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This bridge was one of the park’s best features, according to my 10-year-old son.

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When we came to a fork in the trail, we decided to take the “scenic view” route.

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The trail is narrower here.

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Clearly, we had arrived at the end of the trail. The total distance covered at this point was about one mile. Behind the sign, you see the old Holly Power Plant, which is being demolished.

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On our return trip, we stopped to enjoy the view and rest for a few minutes.

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We crossed the bridge again to get back to where we started. You can see downtown in the background.

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We plan to return to Festival Beach soon….toting a picnic basket!

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The City of Austin is developing a master plan for this park so it will only get more more beautiful in years to come.

THE RUNDOWN:
Austin Active Kids Opinion: A relaxing and scenic spot in the heart of the city.
Outing Time: About 1.5 hours
Outing Distance: Just under 2 miles
Reminders: This park has restrooms, water fountains, and picnic tables. We saw many people picnicking on blankets. There were lots and lots of squirrels running around which could be a problem if your dog is obsessed with them! It’s a good idea to check community calendars like these by the Austin Chronicle, Austin360.com, and the City of Austin before you visit to make sure a major event is not scheduled.

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Any outdoor excursion in today’s gorgeous weather was likely to have been amazing but the boys and I think we stumbled upon something pretty special at Great Hills Park. The park consists of 85 acres in the Bull Creek watershed.

We entered the trail off of Floral Park Drive, just past Jollyville Road. We parked in the street and could see the trail entrance from the road.

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This helpful map is located right by the trail entrance.

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The trail can be viewed via Google Maps. Here’s a detailed map of the entire park area, including trails.

Just yards from the trail entrance, my son was busy finding rocks to throw back into the creek.

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The boys were drawn to the little creek like magnets!

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We saw several small offshoot paths down toward the creek bed. Many exciting things were found around the creek! The boys were delighted to discover a spring flowing out of the rock.

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My 10-year-old was thrilled with this fossil. He said it’s the “third best fossil” he’s ever found.

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This area with moss and maiden hair fern was particularly lovely.

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Most of the trail has quite a bit of shade.

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Less than 1/4 mile in, we saw this directional sign.

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We took the fish pond trail and came across some beautiful sights, like this waterfall over an old dam.

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Later, we crossed the creek on top of another old dam.

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Speaking of creek crossing, you will do that a lot on this trail! If you think your kids would be frightened by stepping across the creek on rocks, then this probably is not the trail for your family.

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After hiking a little bit less than a mile, we came to the Colina Trailhead and turned around.

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On our way back, we took another trail offshoot and saw this pretty waterfall. The boys played here for at least 15 minutes.

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On our return trip, we determined that this was probably the “fish pond” area (for which the fish pond trail is named), since it was near a creek crossing and had a bench nearby as indicated on the map we had seen at the Colina Trailhead.

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Whether we found the “fish pond” or not, Great Hills Park was a grand adventure or, as my youngest son said, “The epic-est hike ever!”

THE RUNDOWN:
Austin Active Kids Opinion: Major exploration fun on an easy-to-follow trail!
Outing Time: About 2 hours
Outing Distance: Approximately 1.75 miles
Reminders: Bring along drinks and snacks. Wear shoes that can get wet. We visited after a recent 2-inch rainfall. The water level might not always be the same as seen in these pictures, especially if we are in a dry period. The trail does have several small paths/offshoots that might be confusing. You can use your cell phone to follow your progress on Google Maps to make sure you are staying on the main trail.