EVENTS

Small deer in the brush

You do NOT have to be a Member to register for an event, but Members do receive early notice of upcoming events and the ability to register up to a week in advance of the general public.

To sign-up, select the specific event and click "Register".

Please note: Events are popular and fill quickly! If an event is full, we encourage you to add yourself to the waitlist.

Event cancellations are sent to registered participants by 7:00 am on the day of the scheduled event.



Upcoming events

    • Sunday, May 29, 2022
    • 8:00 AM - 10:30 AM
    • Doeskin Ranch Trailhead
    • 5
    Register

    Where better to spend a lovely spring morning than checking out the wildflowers at Doeskin Ranch!


    Take a walk in nature with a couple of naturalists, bring your questions, your camera and your binocs!  Join us for guided hike at Doeskin Ranch on RR 1174. We will focus on birds, plants and insects and take plenty of time to enjoy being out in nature. We start with an easy hike along the 0.6 mile Creek Trail.  The trail leads us through grasslands, and along the north end of the creek.  You’ll see lots of diverse habitat and plants.  Then if you’re up for it, you can continue to hike with us south along the creek, up the hill, circling the ridge along the Rim Rock Trail.  It’s a total of 2.2 miles with lovely hill country views through old growth cedar and oak savanna. 

    Note: We're starting the hikes an hour earlier at 8:00 to help us beat the Texas heat.  Registration will be limited to 15 people.

    In the event we need to cancel due to stormy weather, heat advisory, or other circumstances, you will be notified by email by 6:00 am on the morning of the hike.

    As always, wear appropriate shoes, bring plenty of water, bug spray, and sunscreen.

    Some phone-based GPS’ will not work in this area. A printable map can be found here.

    • Saturday, June 04, 2022
    • 8:00 AM - 10:30 AM
    • Meet up at BCNWR Headquarters
    • 10
    Register

    Walking with the wildflowers and exploring the Martin Tract!


    Join us for a peek behind the curtains of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Most of the refuge is closed to the public to allow for restoration and habitat management but now you can experience this part of the refuge with the help of local naturalists.

    Join experienced guided hike leaders on a walk through time on the Martin tract of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Enjoy long ranging views, learn about how the refuge has changed over time and the conservation work done today to enhance habitats for native Texas Hill Country plants and wildlife. Check out the wildflowers, blooming trees and the song birds as they return to the refuge for spring mating season.

    This 2.8 mile hike will be along an old 2-track ranch road that has 377 feet of elevation gains. The loose rocks combined with short steep slopes make this mostly unshaded trail a moderately difficult 2.5 hour hike. 

    Registration is required and is limited due to the nature of the hike and the hike location.

    RESTROOMS AND DRINKING WATER NOTE: Since this is on a closed portion of the refuge, restrooms and drinking water are not available at this hike location.

    WEATHER ADVISORY & OTHER CANCELLATIONS: Texas is currently experiencing extreme heat conditions. In the event that we need to cancel due to extreme weather or other unforeseen conditions you will be notified via email before 6:00 AM on the day of the hike.

    PARTICIPANT CANCELLATIONS: Our hikes are popular and often have wait lists, if you need to cancel, we ask that you try to do so at least 48 hours in advance so that a wait-list participant is notified in adequate time to be able to join us on the trail!

    • Sunday, June 12, 2022
    • 8:00 AM - 10:30 AM
    • Meet up at the Quarry Canyon trailhead at Warbler Vista, just west of Lago Vista on 1431.
    • 14
    Register

    Come explore the trails of Warbler Vista and find out what makes it so very special, especially in the spring!


    This is prime golden-cheeked warbler habitat. Listen carefully and you may hear some of the fledglings. As spring explodes on the hillsides, there's lots to see.  On the hike, you will pass moss-covered seeps that feed the Colorado River watershed, wander through the forested hillside, see huge limestone boulders and canyons, and learn about unique Texas plants and animals that call the refuge home. Check out all of the wildflowers, flowering trees and other native plants that support this diverse habitat.  Your guides are master naturalists, trail builders and nature enthusiasts.

    Meet at the Quarry Canyon parking lot near the trailhead. This is a moderately difficult hike through a beautiful oak-juniper forest. This 2.1 mile hike will meander up the steep new Quarry Canyon trail, then over to Vista Knoll and Cactus Rocks before descending on the Boulder trail.

    START TIME: The start time for our summer hikes is 8:00 am as we try to beat the Texas heat.

    EQUIPMENT: As always, wear appropriate shoes, bring plenty of water, bug spray, and sunscreen. Due to loose, slippery rocks on the trail, hiking poles are also highly recommended.

    WEATHER ADVISORY & OTHER CANCELLATIONS: Texas is currently experiencing extreme heat conditions. In the event that we need to cancel due to extreme weather or other unforeseen conditions you will be notified via email before 6:00 AM on the day of the hike.

    PARTICIPANT CANCELLATIONS: Our hikes are popular and often have wait lists, if you need to cancel, we ask that you try to do so at least 48 hours in advance so that a wait-list participant is notified in adequate time to be able to join us on the trail!

    • Saturday, June 18, 2022
    • 8:00 AM - 10:30 AM
    • Doeskin Ranch Trailhead
    • 15
    Register

    Where better to spend a lovely spring morning than checking out the wildflowers at Doeskin Ranch!


    Take a walk in nature with a couple of naturalists, bring your questions, your camera and your binoculars!  Join us for guided hike at Doeskin Ranch on RR 1174. We will focus on birds, plants and insects and take plenty of time to enjoy being out in nature. We start with an easy hike along the 0.6 mile Creek Trail.  The trail leads us through grasslands, and along the north end of the creek.  You’ll see lots of diverse habitat and plants.  Then if you’re up for it, you can continue to hike with us south along the creek, up the hill, circling the ridge along the Rim Rock Trail.  It’s a total of 2.2 miles with lovely hill country views through old growth cedar and oak savanna. 

    GROUP SIZE: Registration is limited to 15 participants for this hike.

    EQUIPMENT: As always, wear appropriate shoes, bring plenty of water, bug spray, and sunscreen. Due to slippery rocks on the trail, hiking poles are also highly recommended.

    PHONE RECEPTION: Some phone-based GPS’ will not work in this area. A printable/downloadable map to the trailhead can be found here.

    WEATHER ADVISORY & OTHER CANCELLATIONS: Texas is currently experiencing extreme heat conditions. In the event that we need to cancel due to extreme weather or other unforeseen conditions you will be notified via email before 6:00 AM on the day of the hike.

    PARTICIPANT CANCELLATIONS: Our hikes are popular and often have wait lists, if you need to cancel, we ask that you try to do so at least 48 hours in advance so that a wait-list participant is notified in adequate time to be able to join us on the trail!


    • Sunday, June 26, 2022
    • 8:00 AM - 10:30 AM
    • Meet up at the Quarry Canyon trailhead at Warbler Vista, just west of Lago Vista on 1431.
    • 17
    Register

    Come explore the trails of Warbler Vista and find out what makes it so very special, especially in the spring!


    This is prime golden-cheeked warbler habitat. Listen carefully and you may hear some of the fledglings. As spring explodes on the hillsides, there's lots to see.  On the hike, you will pass moss-covered seeps that feed the Colorado River watershed, wander through the forested hillside, see huge limestone boulders and canyons, and learn about unique Texas plants and animals that call the refuge home. Check out all of the wildflowers, flowering trees and other native plants that support this diverse habitat.  Your guides are master naturalists, trail builders and nature enthusiasts.

    Meet at the Quarry Canyon parking lot near the trailhead. This is a moderately difficult hike through a beautiful oak-juniper forest. This 2.1 mile hike will meander up the steep new Quarry Canyon trail, then over to Vista Knoll and Cactus Rocks before descending on the Boulder trail.

    START TIME: Summer hikes begin at 8 AM so that we can beat the Texas heat! This hike will begin promptly at 8 AM.

    EQUIPMENT: As always, wear appropriate shoes, bring plenty of water, bug spray, and sunscreen. Due to slippery rocks on the trail, hiking poles are also highly recommended.

    GROUP SIZE: Registration is limited to 15 participants for this hike.

    WEATHER ADVISORY & OTHER CANCELLATIONS: Texas is currently experiencing extreme heat conditions. In the event that we need to cancel due to extreme weather or other unforeseen conditions you will be notified via email before 6:00 AM on the day of the hike.

    PARTICIPANT CANCELLATIONS: Our hikes are popular and often have wait lists, if you need to cancel, we ask that you try to do so at least 48 hours in advance so that a wait-list participant is notified in adequate time to be able to join us on the trail!


EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

In partnership with the refuge, we also host three major events each year.

Sparrow

Sparrowfest

Typically scheduled in February, this event celebrates the little brown birds that flock to our feeders in the winter. More than 20 species spend their winters here. Guided by experienced birding guides, local bird lovers flock to the refuge to see how many different sparrows they can spot and celebrate the diversity of the little bird.

Songbird on a branch

songbird festival

Typically scheduled in April, we celebrate the return of many neotropical songbirds who come to nest on the refuge. The Balcones Canyonlands Songbird Festival is a celebration of nature through a collection of interpretive events designed to help you experience both bird species and their habitat. Experienced guides host bird walks on closed portions of the refuge and help birds from around the world add to their life list.

Child and man with a hose

refuge week

A free event, it is typically scheduled in October. The refuge and the friends group host a myriad of activities celebrating the wildlife, the habitat and the people that live in the Canyonlands. It’s timed with the migration of hawks, many of whom head to South America for the winter. Lots of activities for both children and adults, including being part of the fire crew or working as a game warden, hiking ancient seabeds, nature photography, archery, native plants, habitat restoration, birds of prey, reptiles, and more.


BAlcones Christmas Bird Count

Every December, birders from around the area gather to count birds and document the species count. This is part of the citizen-science projects program. This is the longest running wildlife census in the world and provides critical data on bird populations and movements. You don't need to tramp through the wild, although that is lots of fun.  You can also contribute by monitoring the visitors to your feeders. In 2020, we counted 13,804 birds, 106 different species. The invitation to join is typically published in early November. Come be a part of this worldwide effort!


PAST ACTIVITIES

Here’s some examples from previous events.  

Keep an eye on the calendar as many of these previous events and activities were so popular that we will be scheduling them again!

Opt Outside Hike: Where would you rather be on Black Friday, fighting the crowds or enjoying the peace and quiet of nature on a lovely guided hike. We started with an easy-to-moderate hike through grasslands, and along the north end of the creek. We saw lots of diverse habitat and plants, and heard lots of birds. Then we continued the hike along the creek, up the hill, circled the ridge along the Rim Rock Trail for some amazing, long-range views. A much better place to be on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Native Plants: Are you ready to go native? What makes a plant a “native”? Why should we care? If I buy Lantana at a box store, isn’t it a native? If I want to attract birds, bees and butterflies, what should I plant? Are cedars and mesquite native? Are their good and bad natives? What's wrong with St. Augustine? Presenters from the Native Plant Society of Texas, Linda O’Nan and Jan Warren, answered these questions and so many more. Their talk was followed by a plant walk along two of our most popular tails.
Reptiles: Daniel Carter talked about native reptiles. A great activity for kids. Daniel shared some of his turtles, snakes, salamanders and lizards, and discussed their unique characteristics and explained their importance to our habitat.
Science Mill: From their bio lab to exploring the human body, a slice at a time, from the story of water to the mystery of fractals in nature, our tour guide helped us experience how nature, science and art intersect to create a world of curiosity and beauty in their creative and interactive exhibits. By igniting the curiosity of students, it inspires them to pursue post-secondary education, the Science Mill experience starts students on the path to a life-long career in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Olive Oil: We took a field trip to the Texas Hill Country Olive Company is family-owned and they are passionate about what they do, and the most awarded olive oil company in Texas, located in the beautiful and beloved "Texas Hill Country" of Dripping Springs Texas. Since day one the focus has been on preserving the natural beauty of the area while providing fresh locally produced extra virgin olive oil and other premium quality products. We had a private tour in the olive grove and went into the Mill to see (and taste) some of their award-winning olive oils. It was a fascinating education on olive tree growing and producing extra virgin olive oil with a wide range of flavors.


Suggest an event!

Inquiring minds want to know… We’d love your input on topics you’d like to see, hear, and experience at the Refuge. Do you have an interesting speaker that you think our visitors would enjoy? Do you have a topic you’d be willing to share? Let us know what you think.

Owl

About Us

The Friends of Balcones Canyonlands NWR is a 501(c)(3) organization whose primary purpose is to support the mission of the Refuge in restoring and protecting the habitat. The Friends are committed to building a diverse, vibrant community that appreciates, supports, and connects with nature in a meaningful way.

Become a Member

Join the Friends in protecting the wildlife and habitat, and supporting the mission of the Refuge. Start by taking a hike or  attending an event, by watching the seasons change through what’s blooming, or by just watching a hawk soar, or even just sitting still and listening to the songbirds sing. You can have a positive impact. Come find your refuge at the Refuge and join the fun!

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