Located in the southern portion of the Preserve’s Open Space is an inspiring mixture of sheer limestone cliffs, deep canyons, dense woodlands, and bubbling springs. This area of the ranch contains the most diverse stand of native hardwood trees offering towering windbreaks, watershed and erosion control and wildlife habitat for native species. When conditions are right, this section of the ranch puts on a dazzling show of fall colors. Peak fall foliage viewing this year, started the last week of October and will continue through November.

In addition to scenic landscapes, hiking at the Preserve also presents numerous opportunities to observe wildlife, including armadillos, white-tail deer, red and grey fox, various lizards, and almost 200 bird species. The fall birding census reported the following sightings:

  • Ladder-backed woodpeckers
  • Caracaras – When you see vultures or hawks soaring overhead, take a closer look. If you see a pale head & neck with black cap, white tail with black tip, white on ends of wings …. it’s a caracara! We saw five playing in the wind currents near homestead 51.
  • If it’s teensy-tinesy and won’t stay still it’s probably a ruby-crowned kinglet. But if you can get a good look, it could also be a warbler (orange crowned and yellow-rumped are the only two warblers to look for this time of year).
  • If you hear something scratching on the ground in tangled underbrush, check for towhees. It’s most likely a spotted towhee, but this year we also saw green tailed towhees (a first for the fall count).
  • This should be called the year of the cardinal. They are abundant all over the property! Beautiful birds that should be appreciated even if they are “common”.
  • Also, if you see doves, take a closer look. We expect lots of Mourning Doves, but this year we also had Common Ground Doves (a first for the count) and Inca Doves (another first).

Hiking the south side of the ranch can be a great lunchtime treat or half day activity. Trails range from 1.25 – 7 miles in length. Picnicking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, and wildlife observation opportunities are all available.

The leisurely 1.25 mile Fall color hike detailed below is a great start if you are looking for a short but enjoyable 30 minutes to an hour long hike. For longer excursions, continue down Canyon cut-off until if connects to Madrone Loop and hop on Turkey Trail (5 miles) and for the avid hikers not intimidated by the steep elevations, follow Madrone Loop from the South Pond all the way to the top of the South hill and descend into the canyons near homestead 43. Both trails are excellent day hikes; portions of the trails are steep and rocky, but the views are spectacular.

Are you interested in finding out more about life on 2,000 acres? Call Sales & Marketing Director, Jasmin Arpin at 512.508.4684 for more information, pricing or schedule a tour.