Steady rains over the next day or so should get Barton Creek running again. So far we’ve had from two to four inches so far to the west over the drainage area and the creek is flowing at almost 50 cfs at highway 71 and almost 10 cfs at 360. If you want up to date info You can see the latest data here.
I recommend staying off the trails until things dry out a bit. The mud gets pretty deep when we have this much rain so they’ll be closed to prevent damage over the next day or so.
Once things dry out a bit I’ll head down and see how the swimming holes look.
The Violet Crown Trail is an ambitious project that will run for 30 miles from from Zilker Park to South of FM-967 in Hays County. Along the way it will connect to Dick Nichols Park and the veloway in Circle C. The trail will have a variety of surfaces ranging from urban sidewalks to relatively smooth crushed granite to rougher sections in the Barton Creek Greenbelt.
Phase one is completed and runs from Zilker Park to the southernmost point in the Greenbelt near the intersection of Mopac and Ben White Blvd. The last mile to Ben White Boulevard will be completed once permits are approved to cross a bit of the Balcones Canonlands Preserve.
From there the trail will continue down Brodie Lane, through Dick Nichols Park, the Wildflower Center in Circle C, and on to Onion Creek in Northern Hays County. This trail system will be tremendous resource for hikers, mountain bikers and nature lovers in the area.
After the recent rains I could tell from the USGS site that Barton Creek was flowing at Lost Creek Blvd, so I thought it was a good bet that Sculpture Falls would be flowing as well. I took a walk this afternoon and saw that there is a little flow at the falls. It probably won’t last long, but it’s nice to have water in the creek in July. I didn’t walk very far downstream from there, but I doubt if the water got to Twin Falls. Post a picture if you get down that way and let me know.
A new map of the Barton Creek Greenbelt has just been published by the Save Our Springs Alliance. It’s printed on waterproof paper and in addition to the map it has information about trail heads, swimming holes and flora and fauna you’ll come across in the area.
The map should be available in local outdoor stores soon, but in the meantime you can get it at the SOS Alliance on-line store for $6.
If you’re in the Barton Creek Greenbelt and see a large tree that has fallen down it’s probably a Red or Spanish Oak (Quercus buckleyi). The drought over the last few years has been especially hard on these trees, which are probably going to slowly disappear from our local woodlands unless we get back into a wetter cycle.
During my walk today I came across an area where even the cedar trees (ashe juniper or Juniperus ashei) had died and it appeared to be in transition to grassland. This was probably the state of a lot of this area prior to European settlement and the associated fencing and overgrazing. Native Americans encouraged fires that tended to keep the area free of hardwoods except in creek bottoms. I worry that the build up of dead wood makes it more and more likely that we’ll have a serious fire in the greenbelt.
Drought stressed cedar
It looks like this year is going to be hard on the American Beauty-berries again. My favorite patch looked a little sad today with lots of stressed looking plants and immature berries. Now that we’re into summer our best hope of rain is a tropical storm.
I originally started this project 2 years ago when I bought a new (used) 29er and decided to rebuild my old Gary Fisher Sugar.
For some reason I thought that a new paint job was a good idea, and after looking at my options I took my frame to a local shop to have it sandblasted. The shop assured me that they had experience with bikes and carbon fiber, but they managed to sandblast a hole in my carbon fiber rear triangle. Bummer.
Since then I’ve been haunting ebay looking for a new frame, and finally found a perfect match. I’d already bought new wheels and bottom bracket, so all I needed was brakes. I found a set of XT integrated brakes / shifters on Craig’s List and finally had everything I needed to put my old ride back together. As built it’s about 27 pounds, not bad for an old full suspension bike.
My first test ride was on the Slaughter Creek trail, and I’m really happy with the way the bike rides. Back on the Barton Creek trails it reminded me of why I bought my 29er. At least now I have a spare for visitors, and it’s a good choice for less technical trails.
Next project? Maybe my old 80’s Specialized Rock Hopper needs to get back on the trails. Anyone have an antique fork that would fit?
I took a walk in the Barton Creek Greenbelt a couple of days ago and came across this nest at eye level right at the edge of the trail. As I approached the occupant flew up into the tree and started yelling at me. I pulled down the branch to look and saw an egg, so I took a picture from above.
Bird’s nest on Barton Creek Greenbelt
Bird’s nest on Barton Creek Greenbelt
It wasn’t until I got home and took a look at the photo that I realized that there were newly hatched babies in the nest as well. I hope they survive, but I’m afraid that the location will be a problem as there’s a lot of traffic along the trial. I’ll check next time I’m on that trail and post an update on how the family is doing.
Barton Creek Greenbelt wildflower
I also saw quite a few of a flower that I’m not familiar with. Maybe someone can help identify it. Here’s a picture.
The lack of rain this spring is really disappointing. I was hoping for relief from the front that came through last night, but so far nothing. Let’s hope that we get some relief before summer starts in earnest.
I got a chance to get down to the Barton Creek Greenbelt today to check on my favorite swimming holes, Sculpture Falls and Twin Falls. There’s good flow at Sculpture, but Twin Falls is only flowing on the south side. The stream gauge at 360 is showing no flow, so I’m guessing that the creek isn’t flowing past the high spot just downstream from the Mopac bridge. Maybe we’ll get some more rain in the next couple of days and get things going again.
The usual spring flowers are blooming, and I saw a mesquite tree with leaves which means spring is here for sure, (kind of like a Texas versio of the groundhog test).
Last night’s thunderstorms came roaring in over the hill country to the west and dropped several of inches of desperately needed rain on the Barton Creek recharge zone. The USGS monitoring site on Barton Creek at highway 71 West reported a peak of over 1000 cfps, and as of this morning the creek is flowing all the way to Barton Springs. This means that all the swimming holes on the Barton Creek Greenbelt will be full for a while.
I usually wait a day or two after rain before I head down to the creek on local trails because it’s hard on the trail when it’s this wet. Although it’s not always up to date you can call the Barton Creek Greenbelt hotline at 974-1250 to see if the trail is officially open.
I’ll try to get down to the creek crossing at Lost Creek Blvd. to get some pics to post. You can also see the creek from the road at Lost Creek Blvd and may be able to catch a a quick look as you drive over the Mopac bridge.
Driving through my neighborhood this spring I can’t help but notice the Huisache in bloom along the road. Also know as sweet acacia the bright golden flowers cover the trees this time of year and provide quite a show. Here are some pictures if you’re not familiar with this local native.
It’s spring in the Barton Creek greenbelt and I can’t help but notice the intense green of the new leaves on all the trees.
The live oaks have traded their old leaves for new, and although they’re a grayish rather than bright green they’re currently flowering and covering everything with pollen. Next will be the worms. With any luck they’ll be sparse like last year.
Spanish or Texas Red Oak (Quercus buckleyi)
The red (Spanish) oak just off the back deck is an especially intense green. Although I’ve seen a lot of dead red oaks in the greenbelt I think that this one may survive as it’s in the outflow from our neighborhood storm sewer and gets more water than most.
The biggest tree in the back yard is a cedar elm that hangs over the back deck. Probably not a great idea since fire is always a possibility, but it would be a big
Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia)
loss to our back yard if it were cut down, so I think we’ll have to live with the risk.
The last trees to leaf out in the area are usually the pecans and mesquite. There isn’t any mesquite nearby, but I was just down at Barton Springs pool yesterday and the pecans there are still bare. Once they’ve leafed out it the cold weather should be done for good.
It’s been over a week since I’ve been down to the Barton Creek Greenbelt, and much longer since I posted any new pictures. Last trip down I had a bad fall which resulted in some pretty impressive bruises, (sorry no pictures).
I was riding from sculpture falls downstream on the southern bank when my chain ring got hung on a root at the spot where my bike is in the picture to the right. This is a pretty narrow section of the trail and as I fell toward the creek there was nowhere to put my foot and so I fell about 8 feet down the embankment into the pile of rocks at the bottom of the picture. Ouch! I’ll probably be a little spooked at this spot for a while.
Texas Mountain Laurel in the Barton Creek Greenbelt
I’ve been noticing the Texas Mountain Laurel blooming around the city so I headed for a wild patch to see if it’s on the same schedule. Sure enough it is. If you’re in the greenbelt and you smell something sweet that I’ve heard described as ‘grape jelly’ it’s probably mountain laurel. Here are some pics.
Finally, even though we haven’t have any rain for a while some of you may be surprised to know that there is still water in the creek. You’ll start to see it just upstream from sculpture falls and there is running water at the dams near the based of the Hill of Life.
Lets hope we get some rain soon and get the swimming holes full again.
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get down to the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Last week I was out of town so it wasn’t until today that I got a chance to see if there was any change. I was a bit surprised at how many people were hiking until I remembered that it’s a holiday.
As you might expect there’s no water at Twin Falls, but there is a little bit of flow at Sculpture Falls and the Hill of Life falls are running strong. Here are a couple of pictures…
I finally got on my road bike again after a couple of weeks off and headed into the hills on Lost Creek Boulevard to see if they’d be any easier in cool weather. The answer is yes, a bit easier, but the series of hills from Barton Creek Boulevard to 360 is still pretty challenging for me.
Another reason I choose the route was to check on the creek level at the Lost Creek Blvd. bridge. The water was flowing there, and I spoke with a mountain biker who was heading for the trails . There is a short trail along the North bank of the creek for residents of the area, but no easy access to the greenbelt and this isn’t a public access point, so it’s best to head for the trail head at Scottish Woods trail.
This is a good spot to start if there’s enough water to kayak or tube, but you need to be cautious right after a rain. When the water is high there’ll be lots of areas where water is flowing through the trees which is extremely dangerous. Just imagine getting stuck in tree branches in a strong current and you can see why these hazards are called strainers. It’s best to wait until things calm down a bit.
I rode the Barton Creek greenbelt this morning from the Mopac Bridge to the Hill of Life. The first water I saw was at the always reliable back door spring. The pool there is still pretty big. There was a tiny trickle of water at Sculpture Falls and the pool was still pretty clear, but I don’t think it will last long without some more rain.
There’s water the rest of the way up to the HOL falls with OK flow. Let’s hope for more rain!
I managed a quick trip to Barton Creek this morning to check on conditions. There is still some flow below Sculpture Falls. Don’t know about Twin as I didn’t get there, but I’d guess there is little to none there.
Wild petunias are still blooming everywhere along with some Turk’s Cap. And one of my favorites, the American Beauty Berry, is starting it’s summer show. Here are a few pictures.
I was out of town for the last 10 days or so and so managed to miss all of the rain. I just got back yesterday so I headed down to the Barton Creek greenbelt to check out the usual swimming spots. Here’s the latest…
I could see evidence of high water, over the trail in a lot of places, but things have settled down quite a bit. The creek is flowing all the way past the bend just downstream from the Mopac Bridge. I don’t usually go downstream from there, so someone else will have to report on the lower creek.
The Mopac bridge swimming hole is full, but not flowing fast enough to keep it completely clear. Twin Falls is flowing on both sides, although just barely on the high side.
Sculpture Falls and the upper falls are flowing well. Pictures below. Looks like a few weeks of summer swimming.