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Warbler VistaPlease remember this refuge was designed to provide a protected habitat for endangered species. Hikers should remain on the trails. Also remember that hikers should "take only pictures and leave only footprints". Pets are not allowed at the refuge. The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset.

hiking_photo1.gifWarbler Vista

The refuge has two locations with public trails. Warbler Vista just outside of Lago Vista on 1431 and Doeskin Ranch located on FM 1174. Warbler Vista has three trails that take you through the limestone terraces that give the refuge its name "balconies". Cactus Rocks trail is a 0 .6 mile one-way trail and is an easy to moderate hike. This trail winds through Golden-cheeked Warbler habitat of juniper and hardwood trees. Pick up a guide pamphlet at the parking lot kiosk and enjoy the interpretive trail. The Vista Knoll Trail is 1.2 miles round trip and is a moderate hike. This trail offers great views of Lake Travis and Lago Vista. The newest, Ridgeline Trail is .75 miles and it leads to the Sunset Deck. 

Warbler Vista Map
Click image to enlarge. (large file)

Doeskin Ranch

hiking_photo2.gifDoeskin Ranch has 5 trails for everyone to enjoy. The Pond and Prairie trail is an easy 0.4 mile trail that takes you through grasslands and monarch butterfly habitat. This trail is opened for handicap access. The Creek trail is 0.6 mile and takes you around the old ranch corncrib and down along the creek where you can sit and enjoy the birds that frequent this area. The Rimrock trail is 2.2 miles of moderate to difficult hiking that takes you up through the "balconies" and into the juniper and oak habitat that the Black-capped Vireo and Golden-cheeked Warbler need for nesting. The Shin Oak trail is a .5 mile trail that branches off from the Rimrock trail. This trail offers great views of the hill country. The Indiangrass Trail is the latest addition. It is a 1.5 mile back country trail, moderately difficult. The trail head is identified by a sign on a tree.

Doeskin Map
Click image to enlarge. (large file)

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge Receives National Trail Recognition (06/04/2005)

Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton announced the designation of Doeskin Ranch on Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge as a National Recreation Trail (NRT). This is the first NRT designated on a national wildlife refuge in the state. Doeskin Ranch Trail System joins 17 other NRTs on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands this year.

“These trails lead hikers through some of America’s most beautiful deserts, wetlands and prairies that make up our National Wildlife Refuge System and National Fish Hatcheries,” said Secretary Norton. “The National Recreation Trails designation will help more people discover the many recreational opportunities available on refuges and at hatcheries.”

National Recreation Trails are designated in response to an application from the trail's managing agency or organization by the Secretary of Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture, and recognize exemplary trails of local and regional significance. Doeskin Ranch is now recognized as part of America's national system of trails and joins more than 900 other trails nationwide.

Doeskin Ranch and Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge will benefit from the prestige and increased visibility of being a part of the National Trail System. New designations are announced annually by the Secretary of the Interior as part of the nationwide celebration of National Trails Day, the first Saturday in June, and recognized at the biannual National Trails Symposium.
National Recreation Trails provide for numerous outdoor recreation activities in a variety of urban, rural and remote areas, ranging from less than a mile to 485 miles in length on federal, state, municipal, and privately owned lands.

For more information on the National Recreation Trails program, visit the American Trails website at

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

Doeskin Ranch currently has 3.5 miles of trails from relatively easy to moderate walking. Backcountry trails will be under construction beginning this autumn. Bring water and good foot wear! Doeskin Ranch is open during daylight hours for people most every day of the year. It is located on RR 1174 about 11 miles from the refuge office (on FM 1431) via Cow Creek Road.

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