Fit City hikers explore McKinney Roughs Nature Park

REI Outdoor School instructor Mary Pritchard holds up a piece of flint found on the trail at McKinney Roughs Nature Park. Pam LeBlanc/Austin American-Statesman

REI Outdoor School instructor Mary Pritchard holds up a piece of flint found on the trail at McKinney Roughs Nature Park. Pam LeBlanc/Austin American-Statesman

 

I discovered some new trails yesterday, during the Best Hill Country Hikes with Fit City hike at McKinney Roughs Nature Park.

I’ve visited the park several times, but only for special events. This gave me and others on the hike, led by instructor Mary Pritchard from the REI Outdoor School, a chance to explore some of the park’s 18 miles of hiking and equestrian trails.

Before we started walking, I dropped by the park’s Visitor’s Center, which features a dozen or so tanks filled with cool critters, including foot-long spotted gar, box turtles and a glistening black snake.

Participants in the Best Hill Country Hikes with Fit City series head out on a trail at McKinney Roughs Nature Park east of Austin. Photo by Pam LeBlanc/Austin American-Statesman

Participants in the Best Hill Country Hikes with Fit City series head out on a trail at McKinney Roughs Nature Park east of Austin. Photo by Pam LeBlanc/Austin American-Statesman

 

The park abuts a bend in the Colorado River. Our group of about a dozen set out on the Ridge Trail, a mostly flat gravel path, then merged onto the Bluff Loop Trail. Pritchard pointed out bits of chert, chunks of flint that Native Americans traded in this area, and led us to an overlook above the river. We weaved our way down a series of quick switchbacks, then headed back up the canyon to the park headquarters, a little more than 2 miles logged and the equivalent of 24 flights of stairs climbed.

For more information about the park and other Lower Colorado River Authority managed parks, go here.

Hikers look down on the Colorado River at McKinney Roughs Nature Park. Pam LeBlanc/Austin American-Statesman

Hikers look down on the Colorado River at McKinney Roughs Nature Park. Pam LeBlanc/Austin American-Statesman

Want to join me on a future REI-Fit City hike? The hikes take place from 9-11 a.m. Monday mornings. Cost is $20 for REI members or $25 for non-members and includes a shuttle ride to the park from the downtown store.

We’re heading to the Doeskin Ranch Unit of the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge near Liberty Hill on Feb. 13, St. Edward’s Park on Spicewood Springs Road on March 13, and Pedernales Falls State Park near Johnson City on April 17.

For more information or to register, go here.

The next Fit City hike will take place Feb. 13 at the Doeskin Ranch Unit of the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Pam LeBlanc/Austin American-Statesman

The next Fit City hike will take place Feb. 13 at the Doeskin Ranch Unit of the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Pam LeBlanc/Austin American-Statesman

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