Shady, Now with bathrooms
By plectrudis on 3/27/2017
Distance: 2.80 Miles Duration: N/A
Google directed me to park at the intersection of Firefly & Onion Creek Dr. And, to be fair, there's a sign there that says "Onion Creek Park." However, there are no trails anywhere near the sign. The main entrance/parking lot is at Onion Creek Dr and Vine Hill.
The park folks have added a bathroom and playground since the original write-up, but no trial map (this has been a theme lately--the city puts up a map kiosk... and then leaves it empty. Why???)
TO ACCESS THE TRAIL: from the parking lot, head down toward the creek. You'll see a well-worn (but unmarked) trail on your right with a gate across it--that's the greenbelt. It runs parallel to the creek, though the creek isn't visible from the main trail. By ~5 in the afteroon, the first ~1/3 of the trail is wonderfully shady, and about another 1/3 is part-shade. The far end is less maintained, narrower, and more exposed.
THE GOOD: Shade! Can't have too much of it in Austin, especially in the summer. Also, a reasonable amount of foot traffic and dogs. It's not full of people, but there are enough on a weeknight to feel safe. The dog density was fine (for me)--a few dogs, but not hordes of them.
THE BAD: Lots of poison ivy--mostly avoidable, since the trail is pretty wide at the beginning. But it does lean into the trail, and is a little closer than I'd like as the trail narrows. The petering out of the shade is also a downer. Also, it was crazy humid--not sure if it's always that way due to the creek, or just today's weather. And I got some bug bites--a combo of chiggers and gnats, I think? Might be the warm winter + wet spring? Maybe August is less insectoidal.
Lastly, the empty neighborhood (not part of the trail, but of course you can walk down the streets) is kinda neat--lots of lovely mature trees and green grass, but virtually no shrubs or brush. It's the most park-like park I've seen in such a large space a while. Not sure if the city mows periodically to keep the brush and saplings down or what, but it's pleasantly Arcadian. Next time, I would plan to start by walking the neighborhood and then the greenbelt, to get more steps.