On Sunday afternoon we drove downtown, parked under MoPac, and walked the 3-mile loop around Town Lake. Reds, oranges, yellows—the trees along the lake blazed with color. Well, they blazed by Austin’s standards.
It was a gorgeous day—about 79 degrees and partly cloudy—and we strolled along, just leaf peeping, people watching, and checking out the improvements along the trail. These were numerous. I hadn’t been to Town Lake since last spring—I avoid it during the heat of summer—and I noticed new stone work, trail markers, and plantings all along the route, thanks to the fundraising and hard work of the Town Lake Trail Foundation, a group that has picked up where the city left off years ago on much-needed trail maintenance.
Gigantic bald cypresses line the lake, their feathery leaves a rusty orange. I couldn’t believe the size of some of them. Their trunks must be 30 feet around.
A balding man gazes up at a mighty bald cypress.
The tree’s sinuous roots reach into the water. This is a tree that likes wet feet. I had to watch my step so as not to trip over cypress knees (roots) rearing out of the embankment.
The trail was dusty, since it hasn’t rained in a while, and the plants alongside the trail were seemingly frosted with fine dust. But the day was fine.
Kayakers were out up and down the lake. If you aren’t from Austin, you may wonder why the river through town is called a lake. Yes, it is the Colorado River, but it’s dammed and so technically a lake, even though it still looks and flows like a river. Motorized boats aren’t allowed on Town Lake, and it’s a favorite place for rowers, crew teams, kayakers, and canoers. On summer evenings, bat-watching cruises (motorized) are allowed to take passengers on a gentle ride down the lake to the Congress Avenue Bridge to watch the bats emerge for their hunt.
This is one of the new retaining walls along the trail. It replaced old, rotten railroad ties, as I remember. A nice improvement.
A spiky yucca and a red rose pair beautifully.
More color at Lou Neff Point.
Children like to feed the ducks along the Barton Creek inlet near Lou Neff Point. Here a strawberry blonde and a ponytailed redhead relaxed with their child beneath a rusty bald cypress. That baby is bound to be a redhead too.
Kayakers found the spot favorable also.
Now this is the life.
A wooden bridge crosses the Barton Creek inlet into Town Lake, making for a picturesque view. We like to look for turtles from the bridge. This time we saw some large fish down there too. What that fisherman needed was a spotter up on the bridge to locate them.
This bamboo grove puts me in mind of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It used to be a favorite spot for homeless people to camp until the city came in and thinned it out.
The Pfluger Bridge—seen here under the Lamar Boulevard Bridge—provides a safe crossing for pedestrians and bicyclists. Before it was built, you had to use the narrow shoulder of the Lamar Bridge, and accidents with cars were not uncommon. The new bridge is not only a beautiful, safe crossing but an overlook destination in itself. I’ve even heard of spontaneous musical concerts happening up there in the evening.
From the Pfluger Bridge you get a good view of Austin’s growing skyline and political sentiments graffitied on the railroad bridge.
The dome of the capitol peeks over fall foliage. This is similar to the view from Zanthan‘s yard, as I recall from one of her earlier posts.
Looking the other way, over the Lamar Bridge, toward the hills of west Austin.
A bald cypress hangs onto its greenery on the north side of the lake.
Late afternoon light slants across Town Lake.
A freeze is expected on Thursday, and those colorful fall leaves will soon be floating down the lake. At the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, I am thankful that our family was able to enjoy this perfect day on the Hike-and-Bike Trail.