Hill Country Hiking Summary

Even though Twitter was the only social media promotion I ever did for this blog, I still think it was considerably effective. I was surprised by the random attention my posts got, some getting many likes and some getting retweeted by other blogs, clearly showing the effectiveness of promoting on Twitter. I would want to include all my photos for all of my hikes eventually, but it takes a lot of data and power to really show all that. I would also like someday to include some other hikes outside of the hill country area and even out of Texas, since I do travel often.

This class has definitely help me understand what works on social media (I didn’t even have a Twitter when I first started this semester) and has given me experience designing and attempting to brand a blog. Since my major is public relations and a lot of what goes on in public relations has to do with social media nowadays, I’m sure it will help me in the future. For whatever company I end up working for, I will attempt to improve their social media presence by using these strategies I’ve learned in the class.

My first 6 posts had 3 views each, I’m guessing because of the hashtags I used and the popularity of those trails. It was clear that the last 2 hikes I did were not as popular as the previous and therefore did not get as much attention. I guess I have learned that if you want more attention on your blogs, then it’s better to start off with the more popular and relevant information for people.

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Purgatory Creek – San Marcos

For this greenspace being so close to town, there is a lot of trail to do here. This local hiking area is very popular among people in San Marcos and is known as the town hiking spot. Purgatory Creek offers about 8 miles of hiking trails that do not vary too much as far as elevation and the types of areas. If you’re hiking out and back as I did, it is easy to add on the miles possible to do here. I tried to do most of the trails here that were possible during the time I did it.

A portion of the trails here were closed to do flood damage and it being an area that protects golden-cheeked warblers during their nesting season. I started from the south side parking lot, and had to take the trail immediately going to the left because of the damage the trail on the right had rain damage. I later connected with the Ripheus Trail after walking beside the giant levee. This trail was elevated and gave a nice view of an area where water is supposed to flow.

I then took the 4.1 mile Dante Trail all the way to the other parking lot, which was covered nicely most of the time. There were some cliff areas which went high above the creek, which gave some cool views of the area above the trees. I do with there was some more interesting things to look at though. On the way back, I took the Beatrice Trail, which was at the bottom of a cool hill and was one of the better parts of the trail.

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Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve – Austin

Due to me being a college student, I haven’t had the money to drive as far and getting into state parks. I have been trying to stay even more local recently, but I am trying to still put out content that is interesting. This weeks hike, the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve, is pretty short and not very diverse, but is still worth stopping by. The route I took was only about 1.92 miles, and it covers about 90% of all the trail available here.

I started off by walking the east side of the Arroyo Vista Loop trail. As walk on top of the ridge, some great views of the hills offer themselves to you. To get a closer look, I would recommend taking the short scenic overlook trail detour. From the Trinkee trail, I went left onto the possum trail. This trail gives you a pretty standard walk through the forest, which ends with the crossing of a creek. I then went left onto the Yaupon trail, which was more of the same, except this time it ended with a waterfall.

The waterfall was definitely a highlight and is a must see on this short trek. I then went right onto the Creek trail, and then onto the Woodland trail. The next trail was definitely my favorite, it being at the bottom of a beautiful hill. It is visible all the way up the hill, and there is the occasional rock outcropping. To me, it looks like the classic image of what one envisions when thinking about the Texas hill country. I then turned right onto Laurel trail, which was pretty much the only uphill part of the hike. This trail gives you some more visibility of the hills, the highway and some buildings.

 

 

Riverplace Nature Trail – Austin

I honestly probably wouldn’t have been able to find this trail if it wasn’t for the AllTrails website and app. And since this trail is pretty short, I figured I would take some time to say what I like about it. This app is a must have for any one interested in hiking. From State and National Parks too lesser known, more urban trails, this app will have it and be able to guide you to the trailhead. Something I personally love about the site is the ability too look at pictures and reviews other hikers have uploaded there. It gives you a good impression of what you can see on the trail, and what people thought of it overall. You can also save trails that you’ve completed, and look at a interactive map with all the trails in a certain area. The app is free, and I would 100% recommend it to anyone!

First I must say, the drive to this trail was beautiful. This area of Austin has some super nice houses, and they’re all set up on these green, rolling hills. The Colorado River also runs through this area, which adds to the spectacle. I would highly recommend stopping at the Austin 360 Bridge Overlook, where you take a very short hike to an awesome view over the river. Anyways, onto the hike. I must say this hike does have some very hard moments, but I wouldn’t say this it would be very hard for anyone. To access the trail, I would recommend parking at the Boardwalk trailhead, and taking the trail from there. The main trail is Panther, which eventually turns into Canyon. This trail is about 2.5 miles long, and is what has most of the hard stuff. The trailhead I recommended though gives you a god warm up before you get to the challenging part.

For a good portion of the trail, you follow along this very pretty creek through the forest. There was pretty much always a nice water trickling noise coming from it, which added another level of peacefulness and relaxation. Within the first mile of the trail, you are given the option of taking a much shorter trail, which I’ve heard is easier, but I did not take it. Once the uphill starts, and you get higher into the canyon, some beautiful views of the hills emerge. This is definitely a more urban trail with houses and a golf course always right beside you, but it doesn’t always feel it. There is a lot to like about this trail from the creek, the views, and surprisingly, the challenge.

View from Austin 360 Bridge Overlook

View from Austin 360 Bridge Overlook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boardwalk (also where you can access the trail)

Boardwalk (also where you can access the trail)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trail in question

Trail in question

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creek

Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View of golf course and some houses

View of golf course and some houses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View of hills

View of hills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blog Review – Hiking Forward

In this post, I am reviewing Scott Gauvin’s blog “Hiking Foward“. This bog pretty much consists of people’s experiences hiking, lists, reviews of certain hiking gear, and a lot more. If you’re interested in hiking at all, there is pretty much no reason to pass it up. It has a lot of content, going all the way back to December 2012, and provides many many categories on the blog page to immediately find something you’re looking for. This is extremely useful when you’re looking for something specific, such as posts having to do with dogs, or gear reviews.

Even though Scott Gauvin started the blog, there are a lot of other contributor’s. The hiking reviews avoid being dull because of the character and conversational language they are written in. There are 6 different people who post, and they all have different points of view, adding diversity to the blog. It is also beneficial because there is more posting in the blog going on, when there usually wouldn’t be, since they do all have lives outside of hiking. The posts are also very knowledgeable about nature and wildlife, adding another layer to the content and making it more than just a hiking blog.

Visually, the blog is set up really well and looks great. The color scheme is basic, but works very well with the hiking theme. The layout is also basic, but it works great for a blog like this. Like I said earlier, the blog page on the side has categories to easily find posts on things you want to read about. There is also a page that allows you to read about the posters, which are called “Hiking Forward Correspondents”. I also think it is worth mentioning their YouTube channel, where there aren’t too many uploads, but many “liked” videos where you can see what the blog is interested in.

Hiking Foward's home page.

Hiking Foward’s home page.

Wolf Mountain Trail – Pedernales Falls State Park

The most recent hike I’ve completed was the Wolf Mountain Trail at Pedernales Falls State Park. There’s pretty much only one way to start this 7.1 mile trail, and you can find the entrance near the park’s headquarters. I completed the hike on March 4th, and started a little after 3 o’clock in the afternoon. If you want to go longer or shorter, you can easily turn around once you’ve felt like you’ve seen enough, or you can go off the Wolf Mountain Trail onto some of the other longer trails to extend your hike.

The goes across many creeks for a short hike. I thought it was very cool that at Bee Creek, you could hear bees buzzing loudly as you crossed it. If you follow Bee Creek downward a little bit, there is pretty nice swimming hole where some people were spending their day. It would be a nice place to cool off during a day of hiking. During the beginning of the hike, you get some nice views of Wolf Mountain. It gives you a good view of what is to come on the trail. Throughout the hike, there are also some beautiful views of the Pedernales River valley. There is a lot of foliage in the way though, and I couldn’t help but feel a little unsatisfied with the views I got.

The trail has some other interesting things like the ruins of some sort of structure and Jones Spring. The Jones Spring is about 3.1 miles in, and it worth checking out for a little bit. It’s pretty small, but it is cool to see the fresh water coming straight out of the ground, forming into some sort of creek. The ruins are just past this, down the trail a little more. There are a lot of other things worth looking into within the state park. One of these things are the Pedenales Falls themselves, which is an absolutely amazing area. You could spend a whole day alone just exploring the river and the surrounding areas. Also, make sure to stop by at Twin Falls, which are only a short trail away off one of the campsites. This park is definitely one of my favorites and there is so much to see.

 

Pedernales Falls

Pedernales Falls

Twin Falls

Twin Falls

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Wolf Mountain from a distance.

Wolf Mountain from a distance.

Bee Creek swimming hole.

Bee Creek swimming hole.

View of the Pedernales River valley

View of the Pedernales River valley

Jones Spring

Jones Spring

Ruins

Ruins

Barton Creek Trail – Austin, TX

The first trail I will be talking about is Barton Creek Trail, located in Austin, Texas. If you would like to do the entire trail, I’d recommend starting at the Barton Springs Pool in Zilker Park. I completed this hike on February 16th, and it was a very nice day. The trail offers a lot of stuff to do, including rock climbing, swimming and mountain biking. The entire trail is 7.5 miles long, but can be shortened since it is an out and back trail. I only went 6 miles out and back, since the Sculpture Falls was really the last things I was interested in seeing on the trail.

For the entire trail, you following along Barton Creek. The first mile wasn’t too impressive, but at about a mile and a half in you start to see some awesome cliffs. This is where I saw a gang of people rock climbing, which I have to remember to do at some point. I would also recommend taking a slight detour to get a good view of the flats on the creek. Even though you are right in the middle of Austin, you still get a lot of good views of just nature. The trail does get a little rocky at some points, but it was always easy to follow and had very little elevation gain. Often times, there are two trails on either sides of the creek, which offers a little more variety with more options of views.

The two highlights of the trail are the two waterfalls the run in the creek. The first one, which is about 5 miles in, is called Twin Falls. Both waterfalls were pretty crowded with people laying out and swimming. the second waterfall is called Sculpture Falls, and is 6 miles down the trail. I would definitely recommend this hike to anyone who’s in Austin, or in the general area. If you like a more remote trail with less people and no city, this may not be the one for you. Any time of year, I feel this hike could satisfy people as long as the weather is decent. The views are very nice and I definitely will revisit this location at some point. Here is a link to the trail map with the different access points. Barton Creek Trail Map

Barton Creek Flats

Barton Creek Flats

Cliffs

Cliffs

Typical Austin weirdness

Typical Austin weirdness

Barton Creek

Barton Creek

Twin Falls

Twin Falls

Sculpture Falls

Sculpture Falls

Preparing for the trails

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Hello! My name is Kyle Brennan, and this blog is to share my attempt at getting into the hiking world. After hardly hiking for an entire semester, I realized this blog could be the initiative I need to go out and do the hikes. Hiking to me is a way of exploring nature, getting good exercise in, and “just to get away from it all.” It is very relaxing knowing you are from away from everything, being alone with nature and experiencing something in your own way.

I am based out of San Marcos, so most of the hikes I do will be in the Texas Hill Country area. Most of the places I will be going are about 40 mins. to 2 hrs. and 30 mins. away. Some of the hikes I plan on doing and posting about are the Wolf Mountain trail at Pedernales Falls State Park, the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, the Colorado Bend State Park, and much more. I will post about any of the hikes I do out of the Hill Country though, just to add some variety.

As much as I will be talking about the hiking experience itself in these posts, I will also provide many picture of what to expect on the trails. This blog really is for anyone into hiking, nature, or nature photography of some kind. I’ll be shooting on my phone, but I still hope to improve my photography skills and provide quality images. I will insert the best images I take into the posts themselves, but will also upload an album of almost every picture I take of the hike onto the site in another tab. You can catch these posts by either coming back to this site every week, or following me on Twitter at KyleJamesBrenn. This is my first post, and I hope to improve greatly as I go along. Thanks for reading!