SBCA_EXPLORERS_GUIDE Greenbelt cropped
swimming
hiking
nature watching
biking
rock climbing

Visitors Information

Hours: 5am-10pm daily

Fees: Free

Parking: Varies - Parking lots at Zilker and Loop 360, street parking (please obey all posted parking restrictions)

Rules: Keep all dogs on leash; Scoop the Poop; Leave No Trace; Pack it in, Pack it out; avoid littering; No glass containers; No smoking; No fires; No alcohol; No overnight camping.

Explorer's Checklist

  • Relax on the rocks and in the water at Twin Falls or Sculpture Falls.
  • See how many rock layers you can find in the canyon walls.
  • Have a picnic on The Flats; remember to Pack It In, Pack It Out.
  • Skip a rock; close your eyes and listen; find your place to sit for awhile; enjoy.
  • Hike the Hill of Life.

Latest Explorer Observation

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The Barton Creek Greenbelt is an urban oasis winding 7.8 miles through the canyon created by Barton Creek. The clear-running water rushes over rocks and boulders, punctuated occasionally by small waterfalls and cascades. The Creek flows primarily during the rainy seasons in the spring and fall. During dry conditions, surface water in the creek disappears, while the underground flow through the Edwards Aquifer continues feeding Barton Springs.

06-19-2019 — Sculpture Falls. Photo © Alberto Martinez
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07-27-2017 -- A couple walks among the boulders near Campbell’s Hole on the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Photo © Alberto Martinez

Community Action

In 1988, a huge development was proposed within the Barton Creek watershed. Austin environmentalists rallied to protect Barton Springs, its watershed, and endangered species. After much controversy and community input, an ordinance was put to voters to restrict development in the recharge zone, along with bond proposals to expand conservation lands such as the Balcones Canyonland Preserve and the Barton Creek Greenbelt. They passed with overwhelming support.

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Cutting across the Balcones Escarpment, Barton Creek carves its way through the rocks of the Edwards Plateau, the southern extension of the Great Plains. These thick limestone beds consist of several different layers made up of sediments deposited by oceans and shallow seas that covered this area over 100 million years ago.

Soaring canyon walls and overhanging rock bluffs flank Barton Creek. They provide evidence of the power of wind and water, and the ancient movement of the Balcones Fault over hundreds of thousands of years. The canyon’s dense vegetation and steep walls afford visitors an opportunity to discover for themselves connections with the forces of nature and the beauty of this special place.

The Greenbelt is part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP), a system of protected lands that provide essential habitat for several federally protected Endangered Species of plants and animals. While visiting the Greenbelt, many colorful birds can be seen darting through the grasses, bushes, and trees. Their songs echo off the canyon walls. Wildflowers large and small can be discovered, while butterflies and iridescent insects fill the air like flying jewels. Much of the Greenbelt is rugged, but the rewards from experiencing this urban oasis make the effort worthwhile.

photo credit Sarah Larocca
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Volunteer Info

Save Barton Creek Association

City of Austin Wildland Conservation Division

Austin Parks Foundation

Keep Austin Beautiful

TreeFolks

City of Austin Watershed Protection Department

Educational Resources

Field Trip/Education Program Info

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Explorer Gallery

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