Doeskin Ranch Trails- Austin Texas

Doeskin Ranch Trails Near Austin, Texas

Doeskin Ranch - Rim Rock TrailTrail: Rim Rock Trail, Shin Oak Trail, Indian Grass Trail

Directions: From Austin, take I-35 North.  Exit onto 183 West.  Take 183 to RR 1431west.  Go on RR1431 for about 26 miles and turn right onto RR 1174.  Go approximately 4.5 miles and the entrance to Doeskin Ranch is on your right.

General Information:

Terrain: Rim Rock trail is steep in areas, it is basically the trail to get to a plateau.  The Shin Oak Trail travels along the edge of the plateau and is rather flat.  The Indian Grass Trail travels down the backside of the plateau and back up again.

Distance: Round trip about 4.2 to 4.4 miles.

Family Oriented: Even the shorter Rim Rock trail might be to long for smaller kids.  It is about two miles.  There are some other shorter trails in this park area.  The Creekside trail and the Pond trail that would be great for small kids.

Dogs Allowed: No.

Hours: Open all year round.

Fees: Free

Doeskin Ranch-Creekside TrailAbout: These trails are in the hill area of Austin.  The trails are located in a portion of the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge.  They are located in the area that used to be the Doeskin Ranch.  The parking area is paved and well-marked.  There is a bathroom at the trailhead.

The Rim Rock trail starts out near the creek and travels through some open area grassland and then as it ascends up the plateau, it moves through thick juniper and oak stands.  This part of the trail is the most strenuous, but well worth the climb.  You are heading toward the top of the plateau.  There are benches along the way to rest and take in some incredible views.

Once on top of the plateau, the trail meets up with the Shin Oak Trail.  It follows the top of the plateau and takes you to the trailhead of the Indiangrass trail.

The Indiangrass trail goes off of the plateau and back into the shady forest.  It then comes out to a beautiful open area with amazing views of plateaus and limestone outcroppings.  It then goes down to a creek bed and back up to the Shin Oak Trail.

Follow the Shin Oak trail back to the Rim Rock trail and then back down off the plateau back to the parking lot.

You will cross a creek twice on this hike, once at the beginning and then again at the end.  There are stepping stones to help you across.

 

Doeskin Ranch - Shin Oak TrailThe Hike: This hike was in late April.  The day was going to be hot, about 92, but there was a very strong breeze that seemed to take away the sting of the sun.

Upon arriving at the parking lot, there were numerous birds flying around and singing.  The trail at the parking lot is paved to get down to the restroom and the trailheads of the Rim Rock, the Pond and the Creekside trails.

I started out on the Rim Rock.  The trail beginning takes you across the creek and into a large grass field area.  It appeared that I had missed a lot of the wild flowers blooming by a few weeks, but there were still some available to enjoy.

I headed up into the stands of juniper.  The beginning of this trail is a constant ascension.  If you turn around, your view of the valley and other plateaus just gets better.  There are some switchbacks to help your climb.

Once to the top of the plateau, there were stands of cacti and they were starting their blooming.  Very nice yellow blooms.  Like the grassland area below, the top of the plateau was fairly barren and the sun would have been a problem had it not been for a strong breeze.

Doeskin Ranch - Trail SignWe reached the Shin Oak Trail and followed it around the edge of the plateau to the Indiangrass trail.  The Indian Grass trail can be hard to follow some parts of the year, so there are cairns placed strategically to keep you on the path.  This part of the trail was my favorite.  I was on the back side of the plateau, no roads, no noise, very peaceful and the views were spectacular.  This really gives you a sense of what the hill country is all about.

This trail takes you through more grassland area with a few stands of trees.  If you look closely, you can see small shell fossils.  The trail continues, zigzagging its way back up to the top  of the plateau where it connects back up to the Shin Oak trail.

Back on the Shin Oak for just a short time and then back to the Rim Rock Trail.  You are back into the trees and shade.  There is some brief rock traversing, but nothing too difficult.  Back down through the grassland area, across the creek and to the parking lot.

Doeskin Ranch - Cairn - Indiangrass TrailThis hike is probably my favorite of all the Austin hikes.  I hope to find a lot more in the future in Austin that compare to this one.  When I was on the Indiangrass trail, I was mesmerized by its beauty and tranquility.  Any western movie that you can think of could have been filmed there.

I will have to make a trek back out here next year in late March or early April to catch the wild flowers in bloom.

I will say that there is a lot of open terrain here, so make sure to bring your sunscreen.  Also, we did see one small green snake, but there is a warning that snakes and fire ants are prevalent.

I hope that if you ever come out to Austin, you check out this series of trails, you will not be disappointed.

Hoping you next hike is Relaxing, Safe and Inspiring,

Russell

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