Saturday, March 30, 2013

South Llano River SP: Scenic Overlook, March 18, 2013

The day of our arrival at South Llano River State Park was beautiful -- the sun was out, there was a slight breeze, and the temperature was about 75. So, we were eager to get outside. Since it was already mid-afternoon, though, we did not want to venture too far, so we opted to take the short hike up to the Scenic Overlook on the east side of the park.

If you view the map of the park, you will see the Scenic Overlook at the top center of the page, which is near the eastern perimeter of the park just south of the river. We walked from our campsite to the primitive camping parking area. As soon as we entered the trail, we came across one of the 4 bird blinds in the park, the Juniper Blind.
Juniper Blind

I visited two blinds while at the park, and both were equipped with fresh water sources and bird seed for the birds in the viewing area. Inside the blinds themselves, bird books and bird cards were available to assist with identifying the birds. The park also makes available a field checklist entitled Birds of South Llano River and Walter Buck Wildlife Management Area. This checklist is available on the park's website.

After our brief stop at the bird blind, we continued on the trail. Just beyond the blind, the trail intersects with a paved road. We would be on pavement for almost the entire hike. The Fawn Trail also follows the pavement for a short distance, but soon veers south.

It's been a long, long time since this low-water crossing has seen any water.
After dipping down into a low-water crossing, the trail then begins a fairly strenuous climb; however, it is certainly easier walking on pavement rather than loose rock. As we progressed up the hill, the views began to become impressive. At the very top is a parking area; I'm not sure who can drive up there and park, though. We turned north, and after a short distance, we found ourselves on the edge of a hill. There is a green rail fence there to keep folks away from the edge.

Redbud in bloom about halfway up the scenic overlook trail; note the paved road that was our trail.
View from the top. That is our campground below. Views stretch for miles.
Those are native pecan trees, and these trees are what attract the turkeys. The river is along the far edge of the trees. The exposed limestone in the left center is where the highway is cut.
The trail down. Our trail winds off to the right and curves around the base of the hill, to the right of where the water tank is visible at the end of another road.

That is the hill we were atop of a few minutes ago.
Once back down to our starting point, we followed the Fawn Trail westward until we came out behind the park headquarters. It was then a short walk back to our campsite.

Park headquarters located in a former ranch house.

Total length for this hike, including walking from and to our campsite, was probably no more than 3 miles.

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