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Turkey Creek Trail

Trail (3.94)47
(2.27) (2.63)
2.50 Miles 250 Feet
N/A No
Yes No
Free More Info
Austin Travis
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Getting there: From central Austin, take FM 2222 west, past Loop 360. Turn left onto City Park Road and continue south to the Emma Long Park entrance sign. The parking area for the trail is two miles from the park entrance sign, on the right hand side of the road. The parking is right after a sharp turn in the road, so be prepared when you cross Turkey Creek to turn off the road.

The Hike: The weatherman promised me that Sunday would be party sunny in the morning with afternoon showers. True to form, the opposite turned out to be true, but along the Turkey Creek Trail in Emma Long Park it turned out to not be as big a deal as expected.

I started my journey at the trailhead marked by the waypoint of the same name on the topo map above. There were an unexpected number of cars at the parking area so it was obvious that any chance for solitude would be slim.

The trailhead includes an interpretive display informing hikers of the plants and animals one might find.
The path begins on the western side of the creek and quickly crosses it near a picnic bench within sight of the park road. Get used to crossing the creek, because you'll be doing it again and again. The trail follows the path of its namesake with tenacity. Only later in the hike will it wander away from the stream for a brief moment.

The numerous creek crossings are typically easy to master.
The numerous creek crossings turn out to be less of a deal than one might expect. Where natural rocks are not in abundance to provide stepping stones, trail maintainers have left behind unnatural, though effective, concrete pads on the creek bed.

Given the trail's tendency to stay along the banks of the creek, the vegetation encountered tends to be a bit more varied than that found through most of Emma Long Park. The ubiquitous Cedar and Live Oak are joined by the more water-loving Cedar Elms and Sycamores. Mountain Laurels, Twisted Yucca and Agarita are also present.

Turkey Creek does not feature any big waterfalls, but does include numerous small cascades
The most common life form on the trail was not a native plant or animal, it was the family dog. Turkey Creek seemed to be THE place to bring one's beloved pet for a weekend walk. During the course of my hike I encountered perhaps 12-15 individuals or couples. Every single one of them had one or more dogs with them. The fact that I was the only person without a canine companion may explain why some of the dogs took pitty on me and decided to befriend me by hopping up and covering me in mud.

Most of the trail follows the creek, often closely.
None of the dogs encountered were a problem, but if you don't like one barking at you then you may want to find another place to hike. In one instance a dog running point for his troop stopped and barked at me incessantly. His bark was not particularly menacing, though it was not exactly playful either. It struck me more of a "master, check this out. You won't believe this. There's a human up here and he doesn't have a dog" kind of bark. The apologetic owners explained that the dog seemed to have this complex with people wearing big hats. Now I was being offered fashion advice!

This grotto near the turnaround point features a wall of ferns.
The trail forks at the waypoint "Y-L". By continuing to the left you'll not only follow the trail's mile markers in order, but you'll continue on a relatively modest ascent up the creek valley and save the steeper trail for the return path.

The return path ascends a bluff that overlooks the creek.
As the trail turns and heads south it leaves the embrace of the creek it quickly gains a bit of elevation and enters a whole new world. For much of the trail up to this point there is little open sky. The canyon walls and thick tree cover provided ample shade. Now at the top of the canyon rim the sky opened up. Small patches of Bluebonnets, conspicuously absent from the creek bed, are in abundance here, tucked between thickets of Cedar.

A side trail leads a lookout point at the waypoint "View". One the day of my visit the drizzle and overcast skies didn't provide much of an incentive to stick around. The tree cover of the creek bed below afforded more protection from the elements.

The trail continues to the south, descending back to the creek at the waypoint "Y-L". From here the trail retraces its steps back to the trailhead. In all I recorded 2.3 miles of hiking.

On top of the bluff the sky opens up.
Upon returning to the trailhead I spent some time reading the instructive display at the trail's start. It included the usual facts about trail rules, a map of the trail, who Emma Long was (answer: the first female member of the Austin City Council) and some of the flowers one might see while hiking. On the far side of the back of the display is a simple sheet of paper printed with black lettering that states, "Welcome to Mountain Lion Country!"

In April the path was often dusted by Live Oak leaves.
Mountain Lions? In Austin? Shouldn't they let people know about this before they venture off into the bush?!? Actually, there's little to be concerned about. The number of sightings in west Austin have been low and Mountain Lions are typically more than anxious to get as far away from humans as possible. In the last 100 years only 4 attacks of Mountain Lions on humans have been recorded in Texas, none of them fatal.

Let's put this into perspective. According to one report, in 1999 the Texas Department of Health conducted a study in which it received reports on no less than 599 "severe" attacks on people by dogs. Even more remarkable is that these reports came in from only 86 out of Texas' 254 counties. It's not an exaggeration to say that one is hundreds of times more likely to be attacked by a dog than a Mountain Lion. So be nice to Fido when you see him on this trail!

Sources:
Animal Bites and Attacks


Photos

Have you seen me? photo by J.Lavin (Photo by pixistixs) (Photo by Texpride12) (Photo by Texpride12)
(Photo by Texpride12) Photo-Op! Taking a break at one of the many creek crossings. (Photo by maddix)

Log Entries

Great little hike!
User: mlleallie - 8/9/2014  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 2.50 Miles Duration: N/A

This was a great hike, especially for my dog! It's an off-leash trail with a lot of water, so we both had a wonderful time. Will definitely be visiting this one again!

Great for taking your dog off-leash.
User: maddix - 6/1/2013  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 3.00 Miles Duration: 1 hour
Took our new pooch Max and one veteran Jerry to Turkey Creek Trail, our first visit. Along with the two dogs were my two children and one of their friends, my wife and I. It's not a long or challenging trail, but frankly a very nice one that s close by us. Max finally learned not to be scared of the water and now loves getting in creeks. We rounded out our day with some swimming at Emma Long Metropolitan Park ($10 per vehicle) then some grub at Ski Shores - all very dog-friendly places.
Fantastic nature trail for kids and dogs
User: bowlesfamily - 8/20/2012  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 2.50 Miles Duration: 1 hour, 42 minutes
We hiked this trail with a 6 year old and a small dog. It was beautiful, cool and we felt lost in nature. We hiked on a Monday afternoon and scarcely ran into a soul. The trail is a bit rough with lots of different elevations and is fairly well marked, although we did manage to get lost around the middle of the trail. Highly recommended.
Favorite Hike in Austin
User: mstacer - 6/24/2012  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 3.00 Miles Duration: 1 hour

This is by far my favorite hike in Austin.  I can legally have my dogs off-leash and it's a great length, takes me just about an hour.  It's hard to visit when the creek starts to dry up.  I don't want my dogs wading in and drinking stagnant water.  But when the water is flowing, I'd be hard pressed to find another hike like this and I'm here at least once per week.  It's a great work out, for both me and the pups.

I highly recommend getting here ridiculously early on the weekends to beat the crowd or going during the week if you can.  I really dislike hiking when there are lots of other people around.  (Not that I don't like people, it's just that hiking is my alone time.) I get there around 6:45am and just see a few other die-hard, friendly folks who are there for the same reason... to get some exercise, be surrounded by the stillness of nature, and spend time with their dogs.

Great dog walk
User: TexasGal - 9/19/2011  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 3.00 Miles Duration: N/A
My dog, Duchess, and I love this trail. Of course, due to the drought there is no water to be found in the creek right now.
saw a snake chase a frog. the snake's still hungry
User: bigtim1763 - 6/16/2011  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 2.60 Miles Duration: N/A
User: Riff Raff - 6/6/2011  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 3.10 Miles Duration: 1 hour, 13 minutes

HCO group, evening hike.

User: karawynne - 7/23/2010  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 2.60 Miles Duration: N/A
this was probably my favorite hike so far. i really enjoyed following and crossing the creek. it was especially nice, because most of the time, i had the whole trail to myself. i was able to stop and relax in the creek with my dog before we finished the trail. overall, it was lovely.
A nice hike through the woods
User: jtkatie - 7/5/2010  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 3.00 Miles Duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes

A nice hike through a mostly-wooded area (although it climbs up to a somewhat exposed meadow).

As we drove in, the sign at the entrance of the park says that it costs $5 per weekday and $8 per weekend or holiday... but, I wasn't able to read what that was for. In any case, there was no money-collection areas at the parking lot. The parking lot for the trail is after the Turkey Creek bridge by about 0.2 miles, not immediately afterwards as we thought.

Be warned if you don't like dogs (my wife does not care for dogs after a traumatic experience with a dog biting her as a child). There are PLENTY of unleashed dogs on this trail.

We counted 30 dogs on our hike today, compared to about 20-25 people. Although not a single one was either dry or leashed, most dogs did not bother us at all (most were too tired or distracted to care about us), but a couple barked playfully at us.

User: DBrown - 3/12/2010  [View Log Page]
Rating: Difficulty: Solitude:
Distance: 2.50 Miles Duration: N/A

very nice and easy. fun water crossing plus some easy climbs just off the trail. some interesting geologic outcrops as well. Lots of people with their dogs. Fun 1.5 hour hike.


Only showing last 10 log entries. View All Log Entries

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