On my list of things to do in May was go hiking. The Slaughter Creek Trail is not far from my house and has been on my radar for a couple of months now. So I finally got out there and it's great.
I think the most interesting thing is the attitude change here. At most older parks, it's a "welcome to your park" feeling. Here it is more "watch yourself, this is our park, don't fuck it up!" There are tons of signs about rules, where not to park (though no signs saying park here, which I found confusing), if there is not parking available, please leave and come back later as the park is at capacity. No dogs. No water available. Don't let the gate lock you in as it's on an automatic timer. Trail is closed when wet. Don't leave the trail. And all the rest about leave no trace.
There is only one big loop of a trail and it's about 5 miles. It is really well maintained, well marked, and there are 10+ markers with little snippets of information. Most of them are about how the land was ill used previously- the ranchers' dump, damage to the soil, water use, natural gas pipelines. There were only 2 with references to actual animals or plants, which is what I would have liked to have seen more of. There was a time when I was working at the YO that I knew the names and habits of a lot of plants, animals, and birds. A lot of that information has leaked out of my brain, but I still enjoy learning new things about nature and our environment.
The trail, again, was great. It was a good morning for a walk, and only 2 other people out on the trail the whole time I was there. Lots of wildflowers, birds chirping, and good time to enjoy being outside before the summer hits. It did back up to some subdivisions of Circle C and you could hear the road, construction noises, and some kids yelling. There was one section that was bypassed, so I didn't do the entire 5 miles, but it was a nice 1.5 hour walk. I do really enjoy hiking. And checking this trail off the list makes me want to go to the Greenbelt- all 12 or so miles of it. Of course, the Greenbelt seems like a crowded mall compared to this trail! But it is really nice to have nature so close to urban areas, and people who live in Austin often move here just for parks like this, so it isn't any wonder that they're crowded. I guess I just need to try to go on weekdays and the less popular trail heads to avoid the majority of the crowd. So when can I get in a full day hike in the next two weeks?