We started out at Memorial Park (600 Lee Street).
The park was pretty peaceful around 5 p.m. on a weekday.
We headed east on the sidewalk and walked under IH-35. This bridge over Brushy Creek looked pretty inviting.
This is the view to the east as we crossed the bridge.
Brushy Creek must be quite a sight when it’s fully flowing. As you can see, the water level is low due to the ongoing drought.
The exposed creek bed made for fruitful fossil hunting.
My 7-year-old son was over the moon about finding this sea urchin fossil. It was upside down when he picked it up…what a fun discovery!
We saw The Round Rock, the City of Round Rock’s namesake, which is located just east of Chisholm Trail Road. The Round Rock indicated what was an important low-water crossing during pioneer times. In fact, it was one of the most famous markers along the Chisholm Trail, which stretched from South Texas to Kansas.
This is a pretty famous rock! You can read more about it here on the Williamson County Historical Commission web site.
We crossed Chisholm Trail Road to take a closer look at this small waterfall over an old dam. Interestingly, an 8- to 9-ft deep section of the creek just upstream of this dam was the city’s primary swimming hole, complete with bathing beach and bath house beginning in the early 1900s. The City of Round Rock plans to revitalize the area as part of Round Rock’s Heritage Trail Project.
We walked south toward Chisholm Trail Crossing (500 Chisholm Trail Road). Greeting us was the “Bell Steer” sculpture. According to the sign nearby, a “bell steer” could help lead cattle herds and cowboys would keep track of this steer by tying a bell around its neck.
Also at Chisholm Trail Crossing you will find the “Pioneer Woman” sculpture. It represents Hattie Cluck, who was the first woman to travel the Chisholm Trail. Believe it or not, she was pregnant during the journey! The “Pioneer Boy” is Hattie Cluck’s son Emmett, who was 5 years old in the spring of 1871, when the expedition occurred. You can read more about the bronze sculptures at Chisholm Trail Crossing here.
As a mom of three boys, I was really amused by the toad in young Emmett’s hand. I guess some things never change!
On our way back to Memorial Park, both my 7 year old son…..
….and my 11-year-old son were determined to find more fossils.
They were pretty successful!
We could hardly believe that these grooves in the limestone were really from years and years of wagon wheel traffic. Pretty amazing!
The boys still had some energy left to race to the bridge.
We had worked up an appetite so we stopped in Round Rock’s Downtown Historic District for dinner. We enjoyed walking around and reading the informative signs on each building describing their history. We stopped to take a break at the Main Street Plaza before heading home. We did not take the opportunity to cool off in the Main Street Plaza Fountain since we forgot to bring towels. You might want to plan for that if you go!
Austin Active Kids Opinion: Brushy Creek was a fossil-finders dream and the historical insights were an added bonus.
Outing Time: 1.5 hours to cover both parks. Add another 30 minutes or more to that if you visit the Historic District and the Main Street Plaza Fountain.
Outing Distance: Just over a mile covered to walk from Memorial Park to Chisholm Trail Crossing and back.
Reminders: It’s important for visitors to know that neither park has restrooms or water fountains. There’s a port-o-potty at Memorial Park near the softball field. Bring snacks and drinks. If you plan to stop at the Main Street Plaza Fountain, pack a change of clothes and some towels.
While we were near the waterfall and dam, we saw a family swimming in Brushy Creek. The City of Round Rock does not prohibit swimming in Brushy Creek but it’s not encouraged. Use caution and your best judgment in any natural body of water. Remember to always avoid stagnant water.
If you are not familiar with the area, plan your route ahead of time. Memorial Park straddles IH-35 and the turns are easy to miss. This map shows our walk from Memorial Park to Chisholm Trail Crossing. We returned the same way.