The 227-acre Wild Basin Preserve (at 805 North Capital of Texas Highway, Austin, TX, 78746) is part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and its 2.5 miles of trails are the perfect place to see nature in action!


Wild Basin is located off of Loop 360 about a mile north of RR2244 (Bee Caves Road). There are signs for Wild Basin in advance of the turn. Once you turn in, you’ll find a gravel parking lot that leads to the research center and trails.


It’s a good idea to plan your trail route in advance, especially if you have young children with you.


We noticed this big spider almost right after getting out of our car.


Our first stop was the Creative Research Center building, where we found a lot of information about Wild Basin, including maps, an interpretive trail guide, and nature displays. Wild Basin became part of St. Edwards University in 2009. According to their web site, “Wild Basin Preserve was founded in 1974 thanks to a 25-year grass-roots effort. The preserve was established despite enormous development pressures and was saved from the region’s rapid development and growth. St. Edward’s acquired Wild Basin and took over the land management duties in 2009, and expanded to include interdisciplinary creative research in 2011. The Wild Basin Creative Research Center continues to be a treasured educational resource that provides extensive learning opportunities for students.” To read more about the history of Wild Basin, click here.


We couldn’t wait for our walk on the wild side in the Wild Basin Wilderness!


We planned a 1.25 mile journey, starting from the north access of the Arroyo Vista Loop. (See marked up map below.)


We enjoyed the beautiful Hill Country views and solitude.


The trails are very well-marked. The markers along with the map we picked up provided all of the information we needed for a successful and fun hike.


My son had brought along a little set of binoculars. They came in very handy at the overlook!


While the trail is easy to follow and well-maintained, there are some spots where you need to pay attention to your footing. As with most local creeks, the walk to get to the water is downhill and then uphill on the way back out. We were happy to be in the shade!


For some reason, the boys were really fascinated by this fuzzy, fern-like little plant. We saw a velvet ant but weren’t able to take a picture. We also saw a tiny frog, a baby toad and an Eastern musk turtle (also known as a stinkpot turtle).

We were thrilled about all of the critters we were seeing. The land around Bee Creek provides for quite a diverse habitat. If you want to keep track of what you observe and share this information with others, you should check out the Wild Basin Biodiversity Project through the iNaturalist app.


The first creek crossing was very beautiful. The water was clear and cool.


You’ll enjoy going across this rock path.


We had an easy time navigating the trails except in one spot. If you follow the same route we did (marked up map below), make sure to stay on the Creek Trail as you are westbound to get to the waterfall. There is a northward turn to the Woodland Trail that you could easily take by accident if you are not paying attention. Thankfully, we made it to the waterfall….what a sight! If you have children with you, watch them closely in this area because there is a drop-off.


The waterfall was not flowing very heavily but it is still a beautiful scene. (Small waterfall is approximately in the center of this picture. Here’s a photo of what the waterfall looks like when there’s more water.)


After seeing the waterfall, we were ready to complete our hike. While parts of the trail had been relatively shady, this last section was sunny. As we finished the final 1/2 mile, it was mostly uphill and the temperature was around 90 degrees. We were pretty hot and tired by the time we got back to our car. Save some energy (and water) for this part of the hike. Also, build in extra time in case you are moving a little slower.


Austin Active Kids Opinion: A wonderful nature adventure close to the city!
Outing Time: About 1.5 hours
Outing Distance: Between 1.25 – 1.5 miles


Trails are open to the public for self-guided hikes from sunrise to sunset daily. The office (including restrooms) is open weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. No admission fee is required but $3 donation per person is recommended.
Take plenty of water and wear comfortable, sturdy shoes. Remember that everything on the preserve is protected. Do not disturb any plants, animals or rocks.
You can read more about Wild Basin from Free Fun in Austin, Austin Top 50 Fun in the Sun and Austin Explorer .
Watch this St. Edwards calendar and other local community calendars for a variety of events and programs held at Wild Basin throughout the year.


One thing I love about living in Austin is the wide array of interesting and enjoyable family outings. Even better, many of these activities are low-cost or free!

I have three sons, ages 13, 9 and 6. This blog will share our ongoing adventures and provide an easy reference for other families who want to try new things in our beautiful city.

So, whether you are planning ahead or flying by the seat of your pants, your next fun family outing might be found right here on Austin Active Kids!