Tucked between Oltorf Street and St. Edward’s University is Blunn Creek Nature Preserve. These undeveloped 38 acres will make you feel like you have stumbled into a forgotten woods in the middle of the city.
Finding the Trail
Firstly, the preserve does not have a parking lot and it’s easy to miss this sign, which reflects the rugged state of the preserve. We parked on the street in front of the Congregation of Holy Cross. The trail head was directly across the street.
Almost immediately upon entering the trail, you are surrounded by the natural landscape.
There are a lot of trail markers to help guide you along the way.
We just kept following the sins for the Volcanic Overlook.
We quickly arrived at the first overlook: a bluff from which you can view the preserve and the creek below. The overlook is scenic but there is not a guardrail and the bluff is steep. Be cautious and watch your children closely if you take the short path to this first overlook area.
The Blunn Creek
We reached the first creek crossing and the kids enjoyed hopping across the rocks to get to the other side.
The Large Oaks
About 1/3 of the mile in, we came upon this enormous oak tree. What a sight! There were several more of these majestic trees along the trail.
Shortly afterward, we arrived at the volcanic overlook, the second overlook on the trail. Did you know that millions of years ago not only was the Austin area an ocean but there were massive active volcanoes underwater? See for yourself at Blunn Creek Nature Preserve, where you can stand on top of the extinct volcano. As described on the sign below, “With each new eruption, the mound grew upward but probably never reached the ocean’s surface. When the eruptions finally ended, mollusks and other marine animals thrived in the relatively shallow water over the summit, depositing layer upon layer of limey shells. These layers became a type of rock known as limestone.”
St. Edward’s University
I really enjoyed this part of the trail because from here you have a beautiful view of St. Edward’s University (which is built on top of a hill that is also an extinct volcano).
Before the hike, the children had heard me talking about the extinct volcano along the trail and it built up their expectations about what we would find. What you actually see is a circular area of unusual-looking rock high up on a hill. It’s probably not what most children conjure in their imagination when they hear “volcano.” If you plan to visit Blunn Creek Nature Preserve, it’s probably a good idea to make sure your kids have a realistic idea of what they will find there.
Blunn Creek is a relatively small creek but still had some running water that was fun to cross over.
We were glad we went on a cooler day in January. Even with all the trees, I’m sure this would be a challenging hike on a hot summer day. It certainly felt like more than 38 acres and we did not even walk the whole trail. In conclusion, just the southern section we covered this January morning was well worth the visit!
Austin Active Kids Opinion
This small amount of acreage packs a mighty punch. If you don’t want to do a long hike, you can just take the trail to the volcanic overlook and head back.
We only hiked about 3/4 mile.
We spent a little over one hour here.
Take a LOT of water to drink if you come on a hot day. We came on a cool morning and my kids were thirsty from climbing to the top of the overlook. As a result, they chugged their waters the entire time. There are no water fountains or public restroom facilities. While there are many trail markers, some of the paths are not labeled and it can be kind of confusing on your first visit. It seems that most of the trails loop back together and eventually you will find your way. Similarly, you can use your smart phone’s map and compass to help keep you going in the right direction. In addition, no dogs allowed on this trail! For more hiking ideas, check out our Outdoor Adventure Guide!
1200 St. Edward’s Drive, Austin, 78704
5 a.m. – 10 p.m.