The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips

By Gerald E. McLeod, October 19, 2012, Columns

The Colorado River Refuge near Bastrop is alive with the sound of music. A chorus of birdsong fills the forest along the river, creating a soundtrack for your hike.

Despite being only minutes from the highway and a subdivision, you truly feel like you're in the wilderness. The hiking trails traverse under a canopy of stately old-growth trees among the thick vegetation of the river-bottom preserve.

The volunteers of the Pines and Prairies Land Trust, working in partnership with governmental agencies, private foundations, and local businesses, worked for more than four years to turn what was once considered unusable land into a showcase public space. They weren't deterred when a flood in 2007 washed away their handiwork. It officially opened in 2008.

The 3.5-mile hiking trail along the river is easy, scenic, and can be educational, with signs that identify many of the plants and birds. There is even a section of the trail that is ADA-compliant. Fortunately, none of the refuge was affected by the 2011 wildfires.

The Colorado River Refuge is just past the Tahitian Village golf course. To get there, turn off Highway 71 onto Tahitian Drive, go two miles to Riverside Drive, turn right, and go two more miles to the Cottonwood Kings Trailhead. For more information, go to or call 512/308-1911. The PPLT has two other preserves that are also worth exploring.

1,107th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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