Last week I was in Austin for a conference and on Wednesday evening I tried to capture what was left of the daylight at the end of the day for a little exploration around town. I had contemplated driving out to Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge but didn’t think I had enough time to get out there and do anything useful so I opted to head downtown to Barton Springs and Zilker Park. It was smooth sailing south down the Mo-Pac expressway until it wasn’t and then I found myself ducking off the highway and heading down the still congested Lamar Street that leads towards the west side of downtown. Oh Austin, you planned your highways poorly.
I arrived at the park with about 45 minutes of daylight left and with an open mind just to walk around to see what I could find. There were groups of people playing soccer on the large grass areas near Barton Springs Road and a few people walking the trails on either side of the creek. I’d always wanted to see the Barton Springs Pool and I’ll be honest, it wasn’t nearly as glamarous as the photos online and in magazines make it out to be.
I could have turned around and headed towards the Colorado River to the north, but instead I went the other direction thinking I’d have a lot of creek to explore. Instead I found myself running into the pool not too far down the trail.
Kayakers and SUPers are all over this area and on the Colorado during the warm months. I didn’t see anyone on the river when I drove over it but I’m betting there were folks there earlier in the day since the temperatures haven’t dropped enough to keep most peope from being on the water.
And here’s the pool. There were a couple of people ankle deep in the water here on my side of the pool area but only a few lifeguards in the actual pool itself. There was evidence all around of the flooding a few weeks ago that swept through the Austin area, vegetation clumps and debris caught in fences and crevices of tree branches. Flash flooding in central Texas is a scary reality during a t-storm.
I popped up top after I hit the fence at the pool down below and got a better look at the pool from above. It was there I found the much altered Eliza Spring, home to the rare Barton Springs salamanders.
As you can see it was once open to the public with access down to the spring but it has since been closed off to the public due to the sensitive nature of the habitat. More information on the spring and its history.
My explorations were short and since I was close to Chuy’s that’s where I headed for dinner. I’d like to get back to Austin this winter and see a few other natural areas such as the Balcones Canyonlands NWR that I haven’t been to.