Nice little hike with access to Spicewood Valley
Upper Bull Creek Greenbelt
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Distance: 0.90 Mile
This trail lies in one of the first ravines that mark the transition from the flat Jollyville plateau into the Central Texas Hill Country. The net change in elevation from the schoolyard down to the creek is about 80 feet. Although the passage from the trailhead into the valley is moderately steep, it only takes a few minutes.
There are multiple ways through the woods near the pond. The different pathways seem to be bypass routes around ivy and brush. In addition, there is an alternate path heading south from the pond straight up the valley wall. This shortcut to the schoolyard is worth the excursion just to see the 6 ft high boulder that is leaning against a tree. You also get a nice view of the pond if you turn around and descend back into the ravine.
I understand how this hike might create mixed reactions. The thick ivy vines, downed trees, and deadwood on the trail provide a sense of adventure, but you will have to crouch low and step carefully at a few points. The pond is a great feature, but has a thick cover of green algae. There is an interesting seating area with multiple benches just below the school, but you may not want to sit for too long when the mosquitoes are out.
Ultimately, it's a fun little hike that provides a nice extension to the Spicewood Valley trail.
A fun and relaxing walk in the woods
Spicewood Valley Trail
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Distance: 2.60 Miles
I hike here frequently and find it quite enjoyable. This trail winds through a wooded ravine from a reservoir in the north down to Spicewood Springs Road in the south. You feel quite isolated given that the park borders a housing subdivision. Typically I pass one or two other people along the trail.
The net change in elevation is about 110 feet. Although the passage from the trailhead(s) in and out of the ravine is relatively steep, it only takes a few minutes. Along the main trail the slope is relatively modest.
Points of interest not mentioned in other posts include a tree house, a small grassy meadow with wildflowers, and an old watering trough.
If you want to start near the northern end of the trail, the alternate trailhead ("Alt-TH") is located at the intersection of Evening Primrose Path and Topridge Drive. The alternate trailhead meets the main trail just below the rocky path to the reservoir. On the southern end of the trail there appears to be a small, unofficial parking area at the intersection of Spicewood Springs Road and Scotland Well Drive (in front of the city wastewater utility lift station #105). An unmarked path goes directly from the parking area through the woods to meet up with the main trail. Alternatively, from the parking area you can take the sidewalk up Scotland Well and access the trail from the "turnaround" point.
If desired, extend your hike by linking up with other nearby trails. Connect to the Upper Bull Creek Greenbelt trail by crossing the creek a few feet downstream of the man-made waterfall. The Upper Bull Creek Greenbelt trail goes through the woods, past a pond, and up to Canyon Vista Middle School. Also, the Talleyran Park hiking trail can be accessed from its "turnaround" at Old Lampasas Trail. It is about a 10 minute walk along a sidewalk from the Spicewood Valley trail "turnaround" on Scotland Well Drive to the Talleyran Park "turnaround" on Old Lampasas Trail.
A sense of rural Texas
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Distance: 1.20 Miles
Along with the bigger and busier St. Edwards Park, this trail conveys the spirit of rural Texas Hill Country.
My favorite section is the east leg of the loop around the creek--you feel completely isolated while walking through the forest. Another noteworthy point of interest is the overlook with its shaded throne sitting above the (often dry) creek bed. The pond shown on the map is typically dry, even when there is water in the northern part of the creek. However, the view of the trees is quite satisfying unto itself.
In contrast to the general description above, I did not see any surveying tape or other flags on the trail as of June 2007. The trail seems pretty "set" at this point, although there are one or two potentially confusing points as you descend from the trailhead into the valley.
The net change in elevation on this trail is about 130 feet.
If desired, you can extend the hike by linking up with the nearby Spicewood Valley trail. It's about a 10 minute walk along a sidewalk from the Talleyran Park trail "turnaround" on Old Lampasas Trail to the Spicewood Valley "turnaround" on Scotland Well Drive.