Adventure in Austin: Woodlands Park and Nature Preserve

Katie is still new here and will be finding every hiking spot, swimming hole and outdoor adventure imaginable in Austin. (Have some recommendations? Comment them below!) She thought River Place Nature Trail was her second stop. It’ll be a future stop instead.  

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*Disclaimer: I went to the wrong place. Here we go!

Adventuring by yourself comes with its highs and lows. Highs: ADVENTURE! Fun! Random paths you get to explore with new eyes! Low: Nobody to say “Hey, you know that trail we just drove past on the right? That’s the place we’re supposed to go.” Thus begins our first Random Park and Lake You Can Adventure To if You’d Like post: no hiking required.

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Does not say River Place Nature Trail. First clue.

I set out on a Wednesday to 8820 Big View Drive. How promising does that sound? The drive there was glorious. I think part of my soul still resides in California and at a few points, this drive felt like the trek up to Ojai or Yosemite or down into Santa Barbara from the Mesa. But this isn’t a California post! Onward. The drive there was indeed glorious because you could plainly see the Austin skyline to your left. It ducked in and out of view from behind the trees on each hillside, but it reaffirmed my living in this beautiful city every time I saw it.

To get to River Place Nature Trail (which I still need to fully explore and will do so in a future post!) and a cute community park with tables, playgrounds and a rope swing (which I explored to the point of wondering “Where is that great hiking trail?”) you’ll drive through a nice subdivision. Watch your speed! It has some radar guns blaring.

Before hitting 8820 Big View Drive, River Place Nature Trail will be on your right. You’ll see a boardwalk, a manmade fountain, some turtles and a swan. This hike is not a loop, but definitely beautiful, a great workout, 7-8 miles and most Yelpers’ favorite hiking trail in Austin. Definitely worth going there to burn some calories. Looking to enjoy a nice, calming day with fewer steps and more jumping into refreshing waters? LOVE that. Let me tell you about Woodlands Park.

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Sheltered picnic tables with attached bathrooms.

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View from sheltered eating area. Done and done.

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Playground that I definitely did not play on.

Keeping my cool.

So, drive past the Nature Trail and you’ll find this park on your left. Tennis courts, soccer fields, playgrounds and swings. A sweet community park that enhances its appeal by sloping down to the river and providing bench swings, picnic tables and grills for ideal picnics. Plus: rope swing. How can you not be excited about a place that has a rope swing?

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Your view when you’re not on the swing yet!

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Your view when you look up!

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ROPE SWING.

This sweet park has me day dreaming about how many times I’ll venture northwest from the city to get this secluded view. From the walk down the pathway to the rope swing, head further down the path, up some stairs and across a bridge to get to a few more tables, grills and view of the entire lake.

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DO NOT EAT probably.

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ROPE SWING.

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You could find random pairs of shoes for free like I did!!!

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You guys. I didn’t actually steal used shoes that were sitting on a picnic table. Don’t worry.

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All in all, considering my absolute lack of reasoning skills, I loved this little park. It’s far enough away from the city to make it a treat to explore, but close enough that I can see hiking the River Place Nature Trail and eating lunch at this park on a Saturday, no sweat. Come and explore because Austin has way too many cool, outdoor pockets to stay inside.

Quick Facts

  • Address: 8820 Big View Drive, Austin, TX 78730
  • Hours: Sun up – sun down
  • Absolutely free
  • Indoor Bathrooms
  • Picnic Areas
  • Fires for cooking OK (I’m guessing!)
  • Bring your swimsuit and have a blast

Recommended Playlist

  1. I literally just listened to the Hamilton Soundtrack the entire trip there, walking around and driving back. If you know it well, you know you should listen to it again. If you don’t know it well, please consider your life to be changed. Cheers.

For more information about Woodlands Park and Nature Preserve, check out this website for the community it is in. Remember that families live there: be respectful when driving and exploring!

Remember to recommend your favorite adventurous spot for Katie to explore next. She’ll give you a shout out when it comes time to post!

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