Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery - Nature Trail
| 0.30 Mile
|| 80 Feet
| La Grange
Getting there: From Austin head east on Highway 71. Proceed into La Grange and turn right onto State Highway 77 and head south. Turn right onto Spur 92 and look for the park headquarters and parking area on the right.
|Much of the trail is heavily covered as shown here. Note the wooden marker on the left side of the trail indicating an interpretive guide station.|
This easy trail starts near the park headquarters at the waypoint "Trailhead". The path descends into the upper reaches of the valley that also shelters the Kreische Brewery farther downhill.
This trail features numerous numbered stations that highlight plant species that can be found along the trail. The 75 cent booklet includes a description of the
highlighted plant and a drawing to assist in identification. Due to the natural life cycle of the forest there has been some change to the trail. For example, the live oak mentioned in the booklet is no longer living. It's a snag that now serves as the home to a different set of animals than it housed in the past.
The hike is mostly a loop through the upper reaches of the valley and at the waypoint "Y-Right" take the path to the right to continue the hike in a counter clockwise direction. This will also ensure that the interpretive guide stations are visited in the same order as they appear in the guide.
The valley seems to trap moisture, so the hike was a bit steamy on the hot day on which we visited. Somewhat offsetting the heat from the humidity is the generally heavy tree cover that provides ample shielding from direct sunlight.
|There are a few pockets of open space along the trail. This area hosted lots of bluestem grasses, some growing up to 5 feet tall.|
On our hike we did not see too many animals, but one really caught our attention. In the middle of the trail was a good-sized turtle that had sensed our approach and had already assumed a defensive posture and retreated into its shell. We observed him for a bit and then moved him
slightly off of trail to ensure that someone else would not accidentally step on him.
|This fellow did not complain about sharing the trail with us, though he was anxious to see us move on.|
One of the more interesting plants that could be found on the trail was the native Bluestem grasses. One guide stopping point includes a small pocket prairie of grasses. These grasses can grow to great height and a few specimens along the trail had grown almost up to five feet tall.
Our hike took place in early August, which turns out to be during Mulberry season. The trail included many such plants showing off their purple clusters of berries.
We recorded a trail length slightly less than the half mile reported by the park. We found the length to be closer to a third of a mile. Still the forty three minutes that we took to complete the loop and follow the interpretive guide was quite enjoyable.
No photos have been uploaded for this location.
Best picnic spot within 100 mi of Houston
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Distance: 1.50 Miles
Though I wouldn't consider this a real hiking destination (It's only about 40 acres), it is well worth the visit, and I consider it to be among the top 5 day trips you can make from Houston. When I get tired of the flatness and lack of panoramic views of Houston, and want a taste of mountains, this is where I head. It only takes a little more than two hours to get there from Downtown Houston, and seems to be the closest hill with a vista to Houston. It is a great picnic spot, sitting on top of the hill with a commanding view of the Colorado River valley, and the spires of La Grange in the distance. The nature trail, the ruins of the brewery, and the old farm houses are also interesting to see. Bring a picnic lunch, or stop at Oakridge smokehouse in Schulenburg as you exit 1-10 for cheese, sausage, and bread. I also recommend driving into La Grange after you have taken in everything at the Hill. It's a pretty little town with an old courthouse in the town plaza and lots of little art galleries and shops. The gentle hills and nice views of the river valley and towns also make for good road biking. I recommend driving home through some of the back roads that take you through Round Top and other back roads. Even if you don't want to do that, though, and just go straight down I-10 and back, and just picnic at the monument and follow the hiking trail and visit the brewerey, and maybe take a brief trip to La Grange and back, it is a great way to spend a Saturday, and you can get on the road between 9 and 10 from Downtown Houston and still be back in Houston by mid to late afternoon, enough time to shower and get ready to go out on the town. I've done it many times.
Most of the times I have gone, there have been no other visitors to the park, or at most one other family.
Official Guide to Texas State Parks (Learn About Texas)
List Price: $21.95
Our price: $9.04
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