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Wildlife Watching and Nature Trails

RimrockTrail_520x219Enjoy the nearly seven miles of trails, overlooks and photo blinds found throughout the Balcones Cayonlands National Wildlife Refuge.  Amazing views and outdoor adventure awaits you!

Shin Oak Observation Deck (open sunrise to sunset excluding nesting period in March and April)
The Shin Oak Observation Deck is set in excellent black-capped vireo habitat. When the vireos begin arriving, they are establishing breeding territories and finding mates, a critical time for the highly endangered birds. For this reason, the refuge closes the deck when they first arrive (March 21 through April 8, 2016). Once the birds settle into nesting activities, the refuge reopens the deck for visitors. With patience and some good binoculars, you might see one of these beautiful little birds. Definitely listen as they can be heard singing almost continually.  Shin Oak is the best available public viewing area for vireos in the refuge. It includes accessible parking and an observation deck.

Directions: This overlook is on RR 1869. If you are coming from the west, it is 1.3 miles east of the intersection with RR 1174 and RR 1869. If you are coming from Liberty Hill, it is about 8.5 miles to the west on RR 1869. The deck is on the south side of the road.  The lat/long for the Shin Oak Observation Deck is 30.660647, -98.049848.

Doeskin Ranch Public Use Area (open sunrise to sunset every day)
The Doeskin Ranch Unit has more than five miles of foot trails open year-round from sunrise to sunset. The ½ mile Pond and Prairie Trail leads you through prairie and woodland forest. Another short walk, the half mile Creek Trail, follows a beautiful, clear creek and provides comfortable shade in an old oak forest. Rimrock Trail is a vigorous 2.2 mile hike taking you to the top of the plateau where you will find spectacular panoramic views of the Texas Hill Country. The Indiangrass Trail offers a mile and a half of solitude in prairie and forest.

Doeskin Ranch was designated as a National Recreation Trail in June 2005.

Please remember to stay on trail surfaces because you are in endangered species habitat. Click here for a map of the trails

Directions: Doeskin Ranch is on RR 1174. If you are coming from the south, it is about 1.5 miles north of the intersection of RR 1174 and Cow Creek/County Road 328. If you are coming from the north, it is 2.3 miles south of the intersection of RR 1174 and RR 1869. It is on the east side of the road.  The lat/long for Doeskin Ranch is 30.621001 and -98.074192.

Warbler Vista and Sunset Deck (open sunrise to sunset every day)
On the south side of the refuge, Warbler Vista offers 2.5 miles of foot trails and amazing views. Enjoy prime golden-cheeked warbler habitat along three different trails. Hike or drive to the Sunset Deck, an accessible deck that offers views of Lake Travis and an opportunity to hear or see a golden-cheeked warbler and other birds. Maps are available at the entrance parking lot at Cactus Rocks Trail. The trails and deck are open every day from sunrise to sunset. 

For your comfort and safety, bring drinking water, comfortable footwear and a hat.  Click here for a map of the trails. 

Directions: The Deck and trails are located on FM 1431. If you are coming from the Austin area, go west through Lago Vista.  The Warbler Vista Unit is about 1.3 miles past the high school and the entrance will be on your right. If you are coming from the west, Warbler Vista is 3.5 miles east of the Refuge's Headquarters.  The lat/long for the Warbler Vista Unit is 30.505992 and -97.979623. 

Post Oak Creek Trail (open Monday through Friday, 8am - 430pm)
Located behind the Headquarters, this is a .4 mile long primitive trail that follows along Post Oak Creek and provides wonderful opportunities to see migratory birds. Depending on the time of year and time of day, you might also enjoy great views of lazy-swimming turtles or waterfowl feeding at a photo blind at the trail head. This fun, easy-to-walk trail is located at the Refuge's Headquarters so be sure you don't miss it!

* Newest Trail*Pollinator Path (open Monday through Friday, 8am-430pm)

Located behind the Headquarters, this is a .16 mile primitive trail that connects to the Post Oak Trail.  It provides a fabulous opportunity to view butterflies, bees, wasps and other pollinators out in the native wildflowers.  In the fall, you can find Goldfinch feasting on sunflower seeds and Red-tailed hawks on the prowl for wood mice.  

Last Updated: Apr 07, 2016
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