Fall foliage and waterfall along Bull Creek

Have you ever been surprised to discover something near your house that you’d never known was there? I was on Tuesday morning. Not five minutes from home, I noticed for the first time a narrow road paralleling busy Highway 360 just south of Spicewood Springs Road. On a whim I turned onto it to see where it led. A low-water crossing immediately came into view, blocking my passage as it was running high after last Saturday’s rain, but a parking area indicated there was a trail to explore along this section of the Bull Creek Greenbelt. (Scenic St. Edward’s Park, which I posted about last fall, is about a mile upstream.)

I got out of the car and crossed the road to look at Bull Creek running under Highway 360. In the morning chill, mist rose from the creek as if it were a hot spring.

Recrossing the road and entering the trail west of the parking lot, I admired gold and orange fall foliage — a nice follow-up to my leaf-peeping hike at Lady Bird Lake.

Soon I heard a shushing roar, and a long waterfall came into view. What a surprise! I’d had no idea this beautiful scenery was here.

Above the spill, Bull Creek broadens across a flat limestone escarpment, and then it drops over a long ledge approximately 8 feet high. I’m sure it’s more impressive than usual thanks to the recent heavy rain; Bull Creek often runs nearly dry in summer. I felt lucky to see it at peak flow.

Sycamores are growing in the creekbed, their tiny islands strewn with flotsam amid the high water.

They were shining like orange stained glass in the morning light.

There was plenty of golden foliage to enjoy as well.

I was so taken with the unexpected beauty of this quiet spot that I returned in the afternoon and convinced my kids to come along.

They weren’t as wowed as I was, but I think they enjoyed the short hike along the trail. It quickly deadends — at least for us — at a crumbling, steep ledge.

My husband later told me that when the creek isn’t running as high, you can cross it and continue the trail on the other side.

White mistflower gone to seed catches the afternoon light.

The “trail” running alongside the creek is a natural limestone ridge. Looking over it we could see two deep, relatively calm areas — good swimming holes at warmer times of the year, perhaps.

The kids climbed a boulder and humored me with a quick photo op. They may not always appreciate nature hikes when they’d rather be at home on the computer, but I think one day they will be glad for these moments and appreciative of Austin’s natural beauty.

I know I am.

Happy Thanksgiving!

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

12 Responses

  1. Jenny says:

    Beautiful scenery. It’s been years since we went there to mountain bike. I seem to remember there is a spot where there is a chain to help you on the trail. We’ll pay it another visit soon.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. What a nice surprise. I wish I had something like that five minutes from my house. It sounds like your husband knew about this spot. Why was he keeping it a secret from you? Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I was wondering the same thing, Michael, but he says it was not as impressive when he was there before, when the creek wasn’t running so high. So I forgave him. :-) —Pam

  3. Peter Schaar says:

    What Michael said. The dam on Bull Creek reminds me of the dam and spillway at the bottom of White Rock Lake. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

  4. That’s beautiful. Funny how there can be hidden treasures all around us, that we didn’t even know about. Glad you found this one.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  5. Hoov says:

    These California eyes are focused on the water–oh does that look wonderful. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Pam.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Hoov, we do not take the rain for granted here either and are still in drought, despite the seeming plenty shown here. I hope CA gets drought relief soon. I know it must be awful. —Pam

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    A beautiful area. Your children will eventually know how blessed they are to have parents that get them out and about.

  7. Kris P says:

    What a wonderful discovery! Happy Thanksgiving Pam!

  8. Toni W says:

    Fun! In the summer there are often families there grilling at the picnic tables. In my pre-kids day we used to boulder on the large rocks near the parking area. It’s a beautiful tucked in space…

  9. rickii says:

    You are so right: your kids will come around and surprise you with the memories that impressed them.
    I made some similar discoveries by diking into our back woods and not turning back until I came upon a small waterfall. Imagining myself lost made it into an adventure.

  10. TexasDeb says:

    What a treat to find a previously unknown waterfall. Here in Central Texas I suppose appreciating sites with intermittently running water is our parallel to beach combing after a storm. It is all about the timing….

    Your kids are good sports to allow you to share them with us all this way, but then we already knew that about your daughter after the trip to NYC. They are also totally adorable. Happy Holidays to you and your Ms. Pam – may you and your family have many more adventures as you explore the beauty all around you. As they get older I’m certain they’ll appreciate even more all the ways you’ve taught them to get out and “see” their surroundings.