- April 9, 2014

Indian Grass Prairie Preserve and Sunset Valley Nature Area


It struck me the other day that now is the time to be taking walks with the kids. The cool weather, wildflowers, and green grass pass all too quickly around here.  If you are looking for a quiet section of nature to enjoy on trails not too far from everything, there’s a wonderful hiking option I just discovered in Sunset Valley.

There are two city nature reserves that are connected by a path under Brodie Lane: Indian Grass Prairie Preserve and Sunset Valley Nature Area.  Both have trails you could combine for one long hike (5 or 6 miles to walk all of the trails, I believe) or you can take smaller circuits.

Here’s what’s I thought was great about this hike:

1.  Wildflowers.  Right now the meadow in Indian Grass Prairie Preserve is filled with tons of gorgeous bluebonnets.  They smell wonderful, and of course, the photo ops are great.

2.  Radio Tower.  A radio tower may not sound very picturesque, but it’s really strikingly tall, and I thought it added a bit of extra interest.  My two year old son was pretty fascinated by it.

3.  Quiet.  Unless you are next to the road, you wouldn’t guess the preserves are right next door to Home Depot and other major shopping.  The Indian Prairie Grass Preserve is even situated next to a horse field; so of course, we stopped to feed the horse some grass.  There are rustic benches scattered throughout the Sunset Valley Nature Area.  I’ve been told that if you are still and quiet you can see quite a bit of wildlife.

4.  Path under the road.  My kids thought it was pretty fun to walk in the woods under a major road (and maybe a little spooky).

5. Cave.  Did you know Sunset Valley has a secret cave?  It’s called the Goat’s Head cave with two chambers and is supposedly home to lots of wildlife.  It’s not safe or legal to explore the cave without getting permission, but it’s neat to walk by it near the trail.

Where to Park and Access the Trails

The Indian Grass Prairie Preserve and Sunset Valley Nature Area are located on Brodie Lane in between Home Depot and Lowe’s.  The dirt road leading into Indian Grass Prairie Preserve is chained off close to the front, but there is room for several cars to park.  To access Sunset Valley Nature Area you can park at Sunset Valley City Hall (3205 Jones Rd.) and follow a trail through an aquifer protection area to access the nature area trails.

To read more and see maps of both areas take a look at Sunset Valley’s Park and Open Space Management Plan.

Katey writes about activities for families and children at Having Fun at Home. You may also enjoy posts Katey has written about exploring the New Braunfels Railroad MuseumBee Cave Sculpture ParkSweet Berry Farm Barton Creek GreenbeltLady Bird Johnson Wildflower CenterLongview ParkAustin’s Superlative Landmarks, the Elisabet Ney Museum, and Oakwood Cemetery. She has also written about taking kids to explore fun Austin stores like Callahan’sThe Natural GardenerNature’s TreasuresZookeeper, and the Asian Supermarket.