East Austin Loop
Bastrop State Park and Buescher State Park
Bastrop State Park: Take TX 71 east from Bastrop and turn right on TX 95. After 0.4 mile turn right onto TX 21. Follow TX 21 to the entrance on the left. Continue 0.3 mile to office.
Buescher State Park: Continue southeast on TX 71 to FM 153, then travel north on FM 153 for 0.5 mile to enter PR 1.
The beautiful Lost Pines of Texas is a loblolly pine woodland isolated from the main body of East Texas pines by approximately 100 miles of rolling, post-oak woodlands. This pine-oak woodland covers approximately 70 square miles and is part of the most westerly stand of loblolly pines in the state. However, the forest was ravaged by the most destructive wildfire in Texas history in 2011 and is currently in an early successional stage. The 12-mile park road that connects Bastrop and Buescher is one of the most scenic woodland drives in Texas. The road is great for biking or a leisurely drive. The parks teem with wildlife, particularly during spring migration. Pine Warbler and Pileated Woodpecker occur here, and Red-headed Woodpeckers nest in the pine woodlands within Bastrop State Park. Since the fire opened up the forest floor, large numbers of raptors and birds of prey such as the Great Horned Owl and Red-shouldered Hawk can be seen. The lake at Buescher provides good habitat for migrating and wintering ducks. The muddy edges of the lake attract waders and shorebirds. Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Parula and Summer Tanager also nest in habitat surrounding the lake.
McKinney Roughs LCRA Park
Proceed 9.7 miles west of Bastrop on TX 71 to a large stone sign for McKinney Roughs on the north side of the highway.
Nashville, Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, Blackburnian, Yellow and Magnolia Warblers can be seen during the spring and fall migrations. Resident birds include Greater Roadrunner, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Screech-Owl and Black-chinned Hummingbird. Gray Fox, rabbits, White-tailed Deer and squirrels are commonly seen. The park offers hiking, equestrian trails and a self-guided interpretive trail.
Webberville/Little Webberville Park
Webberville Park: head east on TX 71 toward Bastrop to FM 1209. Turn left on FM 1209 and travel 3.7 miles to FM 969. Continue left onto FM 969 for 7.7 miles to Webberwood Dr. Turn right on Park Ln. to picnic area.
Little Webberville Park: Return to FM 969 and head west for 3 miles to the county park signs in Webberville. Go south on Water St. to the boat ramp.
The trees throughout the park are good for migrants, as well as residents that include Downy and Red-Bellied Woodpeckers. Winter flocks of Savannah and Chipping Sparrows forage in the grass along with American Pipit. Check the power lines for perching raptors. Little Webberville has some deciduous trees that provide good cover for migrants and resident birds. As an access site for the LCRA Colorado River Trail, this park allows for a short paddle downriver to Webberville Park. Look for woodland birds along the river's edge, including waterfowl, cormorants and raptors.
Little Webberville: https://parks.traviscountytx.gov/find-a-park/little-webberville
Lake Walter E. Long
Return to FM 969 and travel west 7.3 miles. Cross 130/45 Tollway, turn right on FM 973 and travel 1.5 miles. Turn left on Decker Lake Rd., travel 0.7 mile and take a right on Blue Bluff Rd. to the entrance of the park.
Look for raptors along this stretch of road. Northern Caracara cruise the area and the roadsides provide habitat for feeding flocks of Savannah and White-crowned Sparrows. Also check the small ponds on the left as you drive along Blue Bluff Rd. Lake Walter E. Long, also known as Decker Lake, covers approximately 1,200 acres. The lake provides habitat for wintering scaup and other ducks. Flocks of American Goldfinch feed in the trees in winter, and a variety of raptors such as Sharp-shinned and Red-tailed Hawks are regularly seen. Forster's Tern and Ring-billed Gull are common here in winter. Check the reed beds around the southeast corner of the lake for marsh birds. There is a trail that follows the perimeter of the lake, which begins at the southeast corner.
Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plant
From the intersection of FM 969 and FM 973, go south on FM 973 for 3.2 miles to the entrance on the right. Sign in with the guard at the main gate and ask for a site map. Follow signs for the public entrance, a ramp road up to the treatment ponds. Do not enter treatment areas of the plant. You can drive around the 180-acres of ponds, and parking areas around the ponds allow access to hiking trails. Restrooms are available at the Austin Water Center for Environmental Research (CER) located just inside the main gate.
This 1,200-acre site, owned by Austin Water, contains treatment ponds, hay fields and 3 miles of hiking trails along the Colorado River. A diversity of habitats can be found at the site including bottomland forest, brush and riparian wetlands, which harbor over 360 species of birds and an abundance of other wildlife monitored through the CER citizen science programs and university researchers. Thousands of shorebirds congregate here during migration, with rarities such as Northern Jacana, Red Phalarope and Spotted Redshank. Black-necked Stilt, Black-bellied Whistling Duck and Caracara breed here. Osprey and Peregrine Falcon are winter residents. Dragonflies, damselflies and an abundance of butterflies also occur here.
Richard Moya Park
From the intersection of FM 973 and TX 71, head south on FM 973 for 3 miles and turn west/right on Burleson Rd. The park is on the left after 0.7 mile.
This 100-acre park has recorded Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Little Blue Heron, various birds of prey, Brown Creeper and a variety of migrating songbirds. Harris' Sparrow occurs in winter along the creek, favoring the brush piles and dried tangle of dead vines that are interspersed along the walking trail. White-crowned, Lincoln's and Savannah Sparrows are also found here.
McKinney Falls State Park
Continue west on Burleson Rd. for 2.1 miles, crossing US 183, and continuing to McKinney Falls Pkwy. Turn left/south continuing 1.7 miles to the park entrance on the right.
This 744-acre park is only 13 miles from the State Capitol in Austin and offers mountain biking, hiking, fishing, birding and camping beneath towering cypress and pecan trees on the banks of Onion Creek. Swimmers find the pool beneath the falls a welcome treat during hot summer months. Habitats include limestone bluffs, riparian thickets, mixed-deciduous woodlands, mesquite savannas and brushlands. The Homestead Trail, which loops around Williamson Creek, is a good place to find nesting Summer Tanager, White-eyed Vireo and Painted Bunting. The trail meanders along the creeks to Lower and Upper McKinney Falls. Red-bellied Woodpecker and Red-shouldered Hawk are common here. Nocturnal birds include Eastern Screech-Owl and Great Horned and Barred Owls. The creek banks host Green and Great Blue Herons, Great Egret and Belted Kingfisher. Watch for other wildlife along the trails, including White-tailed Deer, Cottontail, Gray Fox and bobcat.
Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park/Colorado River Wildlife Sanctuary
Roy G. Guerrero: From I-35, take Riverside Dr. east 2.3 miles to Grove Blvd. Take a left on Grove Blvd. and continue until it dead-ends at the park.
Roy G. Guerrero is a 362-acre park located on the Colorado River, immediately downstream from Longhorn Dam. It features extensive natural areas with 2 miles of trails as well as baseball fields, volleyball courts, fitness stations and a playground. There is a nice variety of bird habitat, including riparian, woodland and grassland. You can see 3 species of kingfishers, Black-bellied Whistling Duck and Crested Caracara. In the spring this is a good area for migratory birds, and during the winter this park is good for sparrows and ducks.
Roy G. Guerrero: www.austinparks.org/our-parks.html?parkid=325
Colorado River Wildlife Sanctuary: From Roy G. Guerrero, head back to Riverside Dr. and take a right. Turn right on Pleasant Valley Rd. and continue to Cesar Chavez/1st St. Take a right and then veer right before overpass. Go under the overpass that spans the Colorado River, turn and enter 5827 Levander Loop. The Wildlife Sanctuary is on the right.
This heavily wooded, riparian walking trail provides habitat for migrating songbirds in the spring. The wetland ecosystem also forms several bays along this trail, which provide calm water for wintering waterfowl such as Gadwall, Lesser Scaup and Bufflehead. Yellow-rumped Warbler, Titmice and Ruby-crowned Kinglet inhabit the woods year-round. Raptors such as Red-shouldered Hawk occur here. Open, grassy areas at the edge of the trees provide habitat for various sparrows.
Colorado River Wildlife Sanctuary: www.austinparks.org/our-parks.html?parkid=230