Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, Marble Falls

4.6
#2 of 7 in Parks in Marble Falls
Canyon · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
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Balcones Canyonlands is a national wildlife refuge located in the Texas Hill Country to the northwest of Austin. The refuge was formed in 1992 to conserve habitat for two endangered songbirds, the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo, and to preserve Texas Hill Country habitat for numerous other wildlife species. The refuge augments a similarly named preserve in Austin called the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve.

The refuge is located within a deeply dissected portion of the Edwards Plateau that contains many steep-banked streams and canyons. The canyons facing Austin are deeply etched into the limestone of the Edwards Plateau by tributaries of the Colorado River.

Beneath the surface of the Edwards Plateau lies an underground labyrinth of caves, sinkholes, and springs. Various spiders, beetles, and other creatures inhabit this below-ground world, and are unique to this area of Texas. Even deeper below the surface lies the Edwards Aquifer, which stores billions of gallons of water and supplies drinking water for almost one million people. The aquifer is also the source of many springs that feed Hill Country rivers, which eventually flow into the marshes, estuaries, and bays along the Texas Gulf Coast.
The vegetation found in the Hill Country includes various oaks, elms, and Ashe juniper trees (often referred to as "cedars" in Texas). The endangered golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo depend on different successional stages of this vegetation. Both of these birds nest in the Edwards Plateau, the warbler exclusively.
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Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
55 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • Beautiful hiking area. Serene with a small creek flowing through the Doeskin Ranch area. We heard coyotes but saw no other wildlife, although it was ideal for deer and such. Wonderful area to... 
    Beautiful hiking area. Serene with a small creek flowing through the Doeskin Ranch area. We heard coyotes but saw no other wildlife, although it was ideal for deer and such. Wonderful area to...  more »
  • Absolutely heavenly . Went to the Doeskin Ranch area and hiked a couple of easy trails and found peace and rest for my soul. Beautiful prairie with flowers and shaded areas to sit among the trees... 
    Absolutely heavenly . Went to the Doeskin Ranch area and hiked a couple of easy trails and found peace and rest for my soul. Beautiful prairie with flowers and shaded areas to sit among the trees...  more »
Google
  • We started our trek on the Cactus Rocks trail and kinda circled around through the Ridgeline Trail. The southern sides of both of those trails can be very challenging for some people; you probably shouldn’t take it if you have trouble keeping your balance. I visited in mid March, and I was pretty shocked at the lack of birds on the trails; luckily, we did see two Golden-cheeked Warblers before the end of our walk. That kinda made up for it.
  • First time visit. Great trails; relatively easy depending on which trails and your ability. We are over 70/80 and were able to do the Rim Trail which is considered to be difficult. Beautiful views and I imagine it would be a great hike in the spring when 💐 are blooming. Will go back and try some other entrances and their trails.

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