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Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Savanna Meadow Trail

Trail (3.25)2
(1.25) (2.75)
0.75 Mile 40 Feet
N/A No
No No
$5.00 More Info
Austin Travis
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Getting there: Take the Slaughter Lane exit from I-35 and head west on Slaughter Lane. Turn left (south) on Loop 1 (a.k.a. MoPac). Turn left at the next traffic light at LaCrosse Avenue. The Center is on the right near the end of LaCrosse Ave, past the Veloway.

The Hike: The Savanna Meadow Trail consists of two named trails at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the Savanna Meadow Trail and the Woodland Trail. Like the Restoration Research Trail to the south, the Savanna Meadow Trail is open fields providing little cover from the Sun. The Woodland Trail on the other hand provides some shade and a rougher trail surface.

The hike can begin at a couple of points along the northern boundary of the complex of buildings and display garden beds at the center of the Wildflower Center.

The meadow path is mostly mulched through an open prairie.
The Savanna Meadow Trail portion of this hike slices through grasslands that are briefly punctuated by small stands of trees. There are a couple of nice views along this trail overlooking open fields with the main buildings of the Wildflower Center in the background. A picturesque view probably even more impressive in the spring. The trail surface here is predominantly mulch and mostly flat. One doesn't really come to the Wildflower Center for a challenge though.

This windmill testifies to the pioneering past of the area.
The Woodland Trail portion of the hike is the roughest to be found here. By hiking standards its very tame, but unlike the Restoration Research Trail (which may be ADA compliant) this trail consists of a rocky uneven, but not steep, surface. Compared to the rest of the paths the vegetation here occassionally closes right in on the trail. A snake crossed my path while hiking through the woodland, though I could not identify the species.

Looking back towards the main buildings from the trail.
The Woodland Trail portion of the hike demonstrates what often occurs in the Hillcountry when fire is taken out of the equation. Dense thickets of Ashe Juniper (Cedar), Oaks, Cedar Elms and other varieties form and crowd out the sun loving wildflowers. Juniper in particular is very prone to easy burning and is one of the biggest beneficiaries of man's fire suppression.

The trail through the woodland portion of the hike is slightly more rough with rock and hardpack lining the trail. There is some shade though.
Like throughout the Wildflower Center, many species found along the trail are marked by metal tags either staked into the ground or hanging from a branch. This not only makes for an enjoyable little hike, but also provides an opportunity to familiarize oneself with plants native to the area.

The natural landscape is also on display near the junction of the Savanna Meadow and Woodland trails. A small cave entrance illustrates an entry-point into the complex network of caves and fissures that criss-cross the landscape in Central Texas. Cave opens like this one often serve as direct paths for water to enter the aquifers below. Elsewhere openings into the network serve as the outlet for the water in the form of springs.

The trail forms something of a half loop turning back towards the main buildings. With some doubling back the hike covered .75 miles. With the heat of the day setting in it was time for a cool drink at the center's cafe.


Photos

Entrance A water cistern sits near the entrance to the Wildflower Center. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Flower Beds The Wildflower Center includes numerous displays of native plants that are ideally suited to the local environment. (Photo by Austin Explorer) Turtles Several water features throughout the center provide habitat for fish and turtles. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Butterfly With so many wildflowers around it's no wonder that butterflies frequent the area. (Photo by Austin Explorer)

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From the Big Bend to the Big Thicket, from the Panhandle to the Rio Grande Valley, Texas is blessed with a dazzling array of wildflowers. Of the many species that adorn the state, Texas Wildflowers provides clear and concise descriptions for more than 300, complemented by 381 stunning full-color photographs. Not only the most prevalent species but also rare and unusual plants of startling beauty are illustrated and described.For more than three decades Campbell and Lynn Loughmiller have photographed the wildflowers of Texas, and their most exquisite photographs are reproduced here. The loveliest flowers from all regions of the state are represented, from the graceful calopogon orchid of the Big Thicket to the surprisingly delicate blooms of the Trans-Pecos cacti.