Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery - History Trail
| 0.70 Mile
|| 100 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. The trail starts near the park headquarters building.
The Hikes: The History Trail begins at the "Trailhead" waypoint that's near the park headquarters building. From the start of the hike one can easily see the monument to the fallen soldiers of the Dawson expedition. Head in that direction to complete the loop
in a clockwise direction.
|This monument and crypt was erected in the 1930's to honor the fallen soldiers of a Republic of Texas military expedition.|
The monument at the waypoint "Monument" provides the first half of the name of the park. It was erected in 1848 to serve as the final resting place for the soldiers who were killed during the Dawson expedition in 1842. A group of milita from Fayette County ventured south to try and
evict the Mexican Army from San Antonio six years after Texas had won its independence. Some of these soldiers were killed outside of San Antonio and some in Mexico as a group of soldiers volunteered to venture farther south in retaliation. They were captured and forced to draw lots
in the infamous "black bean" incident by which Santa Anna ordered the execution of 17 soldiers.
|The view from the top of the ridge is stunning. The Colorado River and city of La Grange sit 150 feet below.|
The trail continues in back of the monument and quickly shows a terrific view of the Colorado River and the town of La Grange. The bluff on which the park is perched sits about 150 feet above the river below.
The trail follows the ridge to the east and soon comes upon the back of the Kreische family home. What you see here is not the front of the house, but the back. The main door leads to the second story, not the first, as you'll see later. This spot also includes another scenic overlook, providing another view of the city below
Soon after passing by the Kreische family home the trail turns to the right and then back as it begins to return to the trailhead. But there's a short detour to the left soon after the trail turns. This small spur travels slightly downhill to a platform that overlooks the Kreische
Brewery in the valley below.
|The Brewery overlook provides a bird's eye view of the ruins of Kreische's business.|
On our hike we ran into a couple of Spiny Lizards in the oak tree by the Brewery overlook spur. The territorial lizards don't back down very easily and decided to stare us down for a long period of time rather than scurry away. We saw a couple of other Spiny Lizards on our day at
the park and all of them stood their ground as though they were Godzilla instead of tiny reptiles.
At the waypoint "Kreische Home" we finally come across the front of the Kreische family home. As you stand at the front of the house keep in mind that much of the original lumber is still in place. This house served as a home to Kreische's children up to 1952. A couple of support structures can be found in front of the house including a stone smokehouse and a small wooden barn.
From this point the trail continues back to the park headquarters and completes the .7 mile loop. In all it took us one hour to complete the hike, read the historic markers and enjoy the stunning views.
The front of the Kreische family home. (Photo by
The stone smokehouse sits near the Kreische family home. Nearby a large stone table may have been used for picnics or for butchering animals. (Photo by
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.
Nice hike halfway between Austin and Houston
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Distance: 0.70 Mile
The history trail goes to a monument that commemorates massacred Texan soldiers that were killed on orders of Santa Ana after being recaptured escaping and Texan soldiers that were killed in a battle at Salado Creek near San Antonio.
The soldiers remains were interred on a Mr. Kreische's property in La Grange, where he built a house and a brewery on a ridge over the Colorado. This trail runs past the monument onto a ridge over the Colorado. The brewery ruins can be viewed from above, and the house can be seen from the front and back.
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