On Saturdays, EarthShare Texas member Save Barton Creek Association (SBCA) hosts free, guided hikes. Starting between 9:30-10 AM, these hikes explore various trails throughout the Austin area. Hikes are for all ages and open to all levels of environmental knowledge. Explore and learn about native plants, trees, birds, etc. while enjoying the incredible Texas environment.
Our content writer recently had the opportunity to attend the hike at the Violet Crown Trail. Led by an SBCA volunteer, the hike was around 3 miles and is the continuing culmination of a vision that started way back in 1998.
What is the Violet Crown Trail
The Violet Crown Trail (VCT) was the launching point of the first regional trail system throughout Central Texas. The first phase of VCT was officially unveiled in 2015 extending from Zilker Park to Barton Springs Pool and then to Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center…so far. Construction of VCT North is underway which started back in February.
The second phase of this beautiful trail system will connect LBJWC to Onion Creek Management Unit on Austin’s water quality protected lands. Soon to be the longest trail in Central Texas, extending 30 miles, the entire VCT will “provide a unique recreational experience as it passes through the urban wildlands,” says the VCT website.
Hiking the Violet Crown Trail
Be sure to bring water and bug spray and wear boots. Under the cover of swaying trees, the trail stretches across rocky landscape and river beds. Poison ivy hides and hangs onto strong cedar trees that almost touch a few of the interstates above. Stopping at various points for water breaks and a closer look at our surroundings, our guide was quick to point out beautiful, small, bright red cedar sage (Salvia coccinea) that popped up around tree roots and was scattered about lining the trail edge.
At many points along the trail, one could notice during the Spring season lots of larvae on leaves, on trees, or even hanging from strands of string, afloat above the ground. These little critters will soon go into chrysalis. When the time is right, they will emerge as incredible winged pollinators: the butterflies!
Crossing rocky arroyos that ran from multiple different points towards Barton Creek, I asked the guide if he had an estimate on how much rain it would require to fill the arroyos. “Probably just an inch,” said the guide. So be careful and check the weather before you hike.
Get Involved with Environmental Nonprofits
Along with the guide, there were only four attendees for this VCT hike. Two of the men on this hike have been environmental advocates and activists since the 1970s. Finishing the hike, I asked these two how they felt about the current climate situation. One of the men gave a solution saying, “We have to stop our greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the quickest and most effective way to help the planet.” The other man kept it short and transparent, lamenting, “I feel like everything has gone backwards.”
The global theme of Earth Day this year was Invest In Our Planet. Now is the time! Nonprofits like Save Barton Creek Association host these free hikes as a way to get everyone involved and active in being educated and engaged to help our Texas environment. EarthShare Texas needs your support to help our nonprofit members thrive in being able to create a greener future for the benefit of all. So TAKE A HIKE Texas and see what areas of your environment you can help change.