Return to Balcones Canyonlands NWR - Doeskin Ranch

Too many people know about this place now
User: Blake - 1/1/2021  [View Log Page]
Rating: 2point5stars Difficulty: 1point5stars Solitude: halfstar
Distance: 2.00 Miles Duration: 2 hours

I'm glad people are enjoying themselves here, but what I loved about this place most when I came across it 16 years ago was the solitude of it. That seems to be a thing of the past for this place unfortunately.

Pretty prairie & hills landscape, especially nice creek
User: plectrudis - 2/18/2017  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 3point5stars Solitude: 3point5stars
Distance: 4.26 Miles Duration: N/A

Doeskin Ranch has lots of nice grasslands, as well as some very pretty sections along the creek.  I always drive in along Cow Creek Rd to really soak in the creek views.  The park is roughly on two levels--you park and begin on the lower level, then hike up to a plateau, then some more hills, back to the plateau, and then back down to your car.

The stretch up to the hill is a bit of a gasper (for me), but otherwise, it's a fairly moderate trail, with lots of good hill country landscape flavor.

Easy, relaxing hike with beautiful scenery
User: heatharcadia - 12/30/2015  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 2point5stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 6.00 Miles Duration: 3 hours, 6 minutes

This is a good place to go hike if you just want to wander around, take in the scenery, and think. I stopped many time to admire the hill country views or inspect plants, rocks, and fossils (there was one portion of the Indian Grass Trail where the ground is just covered with marine fossils, a reminder that this area once was a shallow sea).

I managed to walk all of the marked trails, though this involved doubling back on some portions. The total trail mileage is less than 6, but you can make it a longer hike by doing what I did. Also, walking both directions on certain parts of the trail gives you different views. My favorite views were had from the Indian Grass Trail.

The parking lot was pretty full but I did not encounter as many people as I thought I would on the trail. There were a couple of families I passed, but other than that it was pretty quiet aside from the highway sounds.

The terrain was easy for me. The most difficult part was ascending/descending Rimrock Trail from/to the main trail head, but that wasn't bad at all. If you hike a lot you should be fine.

Be sure to bring you own water; there is not a place to fill up here.

User: jimmy peace - 12/7/2014  [View Log Page]
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 1.50 Miles Duration: N/A
Nice Fall day, with monarch butterflies all over
User: Riff Raff - 10/5/2014  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 4stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 3.85 Miles Duration: N/A

Took my normal route of the Rimrock, Shin Oak, and Indiangrass trails followed by the Creek Trail loop. Lovely Fall day.

A nice quick-hit challenge
User: jeffyg - 1/26/2014  [View Log Page]
Rating: 2point5stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 2stars
Distance: 4.00 Miles Duration: N/A

Although there were a half-dozen cars at the trail-head parking lot, I only saw a few people near the trail-heads and then no one else the rest of the day as I covered all but one of the trails.  I arrived at 3pm and I covered all but the creek-side trail within 2.5 hours.  The Indian Grass trail was especially nice with some small but interesting elevation changes and the trail meandered a bit allowing one to enjoy it even though it could have been much shorter ala point A to point B.  Some varying hill-country views from different vantage points throughout the trails.  It was near 80 degrees that day and I managed to break a sweat.  I'll be back with my kids as the trails were more than interesting enough to satisfy them.  But I sure liked the solitude and "quiet" I enjoyed this first time I did it so I may go that route with it again soon as well.

User: Jessica.Preston - 1/1/2014  [View Log Page]
Rating: 3point5stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 3.00 Miles Duration: 2 hours
Not a soul out today
User: Riff Raff - 5/18/2013  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 4stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 3.60 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 53 minutes

Did my usual large loop of the Rimrock, Shin Oak, and Indiangrass trails followed by the Creek Trail loop. Did not see a single person out there today once I left the parking lot area.

User: crocodile235 - 5/7/2013  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 4stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 5.00 Miles Duration: N/A
Great hike
User: andrewsageek - 1/6/2013  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 4.00 Miles Duration: N/A
First time going to Balcones so we wanted to see as much as we could. Started out on Rimrock trail and connected with Shinoak and then Indiangrass trail making one huge loop around the Ranch. The scenery was pretty nice and open on Indiangrass. Rimrock was a nice hike up to a plateau by means of switchbacks. Only downside was a large family of ~10 that came in right behind us at the start of the hike. But, we let them pass and waited a bit; didn't see them again! Except for them, we only saw a family of four pass us going the opposite direction an hour later.
Nice hike had a breeze to keep me cool
User: Jack3409 - 4/23/2012  [View Log Page]
Rating: 3point5stars Difficulty: 2point5stars Solitude: 4point5stars
Distance: 3.50 Miles Duration: N/A

Trail was always well defined. Hardly any difficulty asending or desending. Got some good pics of  scenery

Relaxing Hike, Spectacular at Sunset
User: estudio64 - 3/3/2012  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 3point5stars
Distance: 3.70 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 45 minutes
The drive down FM 1431 to get to this location is incredibly scenic in and of itself. We got a late start - 4:00 - so the sun wasted little time in working against us. But beside the brisker pace this necessitated, the woods and plains drank up the warm magic-hour lighting as though it were a newfound spring. The posture of the trees silhouetted by the fading light rose unmistakably as that of ancient exaltation. There are some wonderfully dramatic vegetation changes along the trails - especially the Indian Grass Trail, which also gets you the furthest away from the highway. The songbirds here take a more appropriate stage than those busking against the traffic. I'd recommend this hike to anyone who's not afraid of a couple hills.
Call ahead
User: texaskdog - 11/15/2010  [View Log Page]
Rating: 1star Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 1star
Distance: N/A Duration: N/A

We couldn't hike it.  2 hour drive round trip and it was closed for hunting...beware!

Nice secluded hikes
User: jtkatie - 7/4/2010  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 5stars
Distance: 3.00 Miles Duration: 3 hours

My wife and I visited Balcones Canyonlands NWR looking for a nice long moderatly-challenging hike. So, we set off on the most difficult of the three loops: Rimrock Trail. We headed right at the 'trailhead', instead of crossing the river and going clockwise around the loop... Big mistake. After about a half mile, the trail grows very narrow and very grown over (nothing like the posted pictures). We ended up turning around as our legs were getting torn up by the growth and we could not see our feet (and did not want to end up stepping on a snake).

After backtraking to the beginning, we took the Creek Trail from the same trailhead area as the Rimrock Trail. Unfortunately, this was backwards for the interpretive trail, so we didn't get to pick up the guide until we finished the trail. Still a nice and peaceful hike. Saw and heard quite a few songfull Summer Tanagers.

After finishing the Creek Trail, we tried the Rimrock Trail going clockwise (crossing the river at the jeep trail). This was a much better experience and we easily climbed to the top (a few hundred feet elevation climb), which gave us spectacular views back down towards the prarie. After spending some time at the top, we headed back down the same way. We finished the day with a stroll around the interpretive Creek Trail.

Do note, there is absolutely no cell phone service in the area. You are on your own if you have any problems, want to check the radar, etc. Also, we did not see a human soul there the entire time.

good hike but too hot
User: sandew - 5/30/2010  [View Log Page]
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 3.70 Miles Duration: N/A

mistake starting out at 11am didn't finish until 1:30, ran out of water and the heat was too much for the un-treed outer loop (Indian grass).  Only wildlife out in the heat was a few lizards.  Glad the creed was there on the trip back as we got our sweat cloths wet to cool us off.

There were lots of  wooden signs going out to the last loop.  Found a lot of rock markers along the Indiangrass loop, but as we exited that loop, there were no signs to go left or right to connect to the loop back to rimrock.  We went left, but right probably connected was hot and we were tired, so the shortest route would have been nice.  Needed tio print out the map next  time.

Will do this again next fall/winter when it's cooler.

Outer loops
User: Riff Raff - 1/23/2010  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 4stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 4.50 Miles Duration: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Hiked all of the outer loops today (Rimrock Trail, Indiangrass Trail, and Creek Trail). Only saw one other group out on the trails.

Nice quiet and peaceful
User: raidium - 4/19/2009  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 5.00 Miles Duration: 3 minutes

The wife and I hiked this one today. We did all of the trails and only came across 2 people all day. When we arrived there were 2 cars in the parking lot. Ours and a mini van. When we finished up for the day and made it back to the parking lot there were about 6 cars but we only saw the one couple out on the trail.

The trail is very well marked and easy to follow. There are a few elevation changes that offer nice vistas. Benches have been placed at the top of the more demanding parts to give a nice place for a rest or quick lazy snack. 

We went after a stormy period and all the trails were still very accessable. Not too muddy. The breeze blows through the hills making the open grassland part of the hike very nice. We were able to spot several animal tracks and for bird watchers there are tons around. 

Overall, very nice, secluded and easy to hike.  

Hidden Gem
User: bspross - 2/22/2009  [View Log Page]
Rating: 5stars Difficulty: 5stars Solitude: 5stars
Distance: 4.65 Miles Duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes

This hike is a hidden gem in Austin.  We got there about 10:45 and there was only 1 other car in the parking lot.  We did all of the different trails.  Rimrock, Indian Grass, Shin Oak, Pond and Prarie and Creek trail.  The best one is Indian Grass.  It is an up and down and then across a pretty open hilly field.  I loved it.  Make sure you add to the rock cairns. 

When we left there were more cars in the parking lot, but still very tranquil.  This one would be extremely hot in the summer so if you go in summer, be careful.


Brian Spross

User: claireBGC - 11/25/2008  [View Log Page]
Rating: 5stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 4.00 Miles Duration: N/A

One of my favorite places to hike in CenTex.  I've been several times, both spring and fall.  If you go at the right time, the oaks that are sprinkled in the woodland area circling the top of the hill are a really pretty red - mid to late November.  Saw quite a few birds, too.  Most of it is unshaded, so in summer I would definitely make sure to bring a hat. 

Rimrock Trail
User: nurse4rocks - 8/10/2008  [View Log Page]
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 2.50 Miles Duration: 1 hour, 14 minutes
Quiet Monday Afternoon
User: Riff Raff - 7/7/2008  [View Log Page]
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 4.50 Miles Duration: 3 hours

Hiked the outer (outer) loop of the Rimrock / Shin Oak / Indiangrass Trails, along with a bit of the Creek Trail before aborting as the rain came in.  Saw only one pair of people on the Rimrock trail while I was there.  Lovely area.

User: LVX - 3/15/2008  [View Log Page]
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 5.00 Miles Duration: 3 minutes
User: dawnosu - 7/18/2007  [View Log Page]
Rating: 5stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 5stars
Distance: 2.60 Miles Duration: N/A
I really enjoyed this hike. I never knew there were so many speices of grasshoppers. They were everywhere. There are some good inclines and declines, enough to get your heart pumping. The grass was knee-high in some areas but we have had a lot of rain. I took my shoes off and walked through the creek at the end. It was great! There is a beautiful waterfall. I saw a small frog, fish and a tadpole. I didn't see anyone except when I was in my car leaving. Another car came into the parking lot.
Enjoyable Quiet Hike
User: LVX - 4/24/2007  [View Log Page]
Rating: 3stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 3.49 Miles Duration: 1 hour, 25 minutes
It is a very easy hike but makes for a nice afternoon if you don't want anything to strenuous. thanks