Initially protected in the late 1970s in response to increasing development and habitat decline in west Austin, Wild Basin continues as a legacy for urban wilderness and environmental education in Texas. Wild Basin has served as a constituent of the larger Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP) system since its inception in 1996, promoting the protection of eight endangered species, as well as 27 species of concern.

Through collaborations with St. Edwards University and Travis County, Wild Basin Creative Research Center serves as a local gateway to the BCP, facilitating research, public awareness and preservation of Austin’s wildlands. In addition to the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler, Wild Basin is host to several at-risk and threatened species of both flora and fauna.

Existing as one of few public preserves prior to the founding of the BCP, Wild Basin’s two and half miles of trails remain open to the public, sun-up to sun-downevery day of the year.  The Creative Research Center, with its information and welcome hub, is open weekdays from 9 am till 4 pm.

We ask that you respect the natural beauty of this hill-country landscape by staying ‘on-trail’ and leaving ‘no-trace’ during your visit.  Furthermore, bikes, pets, smoking and picnics are all prohibited within the preserve.

Balcones Canyonlands Preserve

The Texas Hill Country, overlooking the City of Austin throughout western Travis County, has continually supported habitat for an array of important wildlife including the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo.  However, changing land use patterns and urban growth has significantly altered the critical habitat of these species and led to their populations decline.  In 1996, the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan (or BCCP) was created when scientists and local representatives met to create a solution for allowing for economic growth and development while maintaining protection for this natural landscape and its native inhabitants.  The BCCP called for the creation of a system of preserves known as the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (or BCP) to provide locally managed solutions to address endangered species concerns.  The BCP exists as a multi-agency conservation effort managed under the terms and conditions of a regional 10(a) permit of the Endangered Species Act issued by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and jointly held by Travis County and the City of Austin.  Several cooperative partners own and manage lands within the BCP, including private landowners, the Nature Conservancy of Texas, the Lower Colorado River Authority, the Travis Audubon Society, and St. Edward’s University at Wild Basin.

The BCP was established to set aside and manage habitat protecting populations of eight federally listed endangered species, including two songbirds and six karst invertebrates as well as 27 additional species found in Travis County. In addition to these listed species, the Preserve protects habitat for native plants and animals of the Texas Hill Country, and contributes to clean air and water, and the quality of life for all residents of the region.

City of Austin information on the BCP 
Travis County information on the BCP
History of the BCP


Wild Basin Creative Research Center is 227 acres of forest and trails open to the public from dawn until dusk daily. Experience the beauty of the Central Texas Hill Country without leaving Austin. Pets, bicycles and picnics prohibited.

Trails are open sunrise to sunset every day. Trail maps are available in the Education Center or at kiosks at either trailhead. Please stay on the trail and take out what you bring in. During the hot summer months, please bring water to carry with you on the trails. Portable restrooms are located in the parking area; no picnic facilities are available. Leave all plants, animals, rocks, and other elements in place. Everything is protected on the preserve.

Admission is a suggested donation of $3 for adults and $2 for seniors and children 5-12 years old.

Check out our Mileage Trail Map for specific information on mileage of the Basin's trails. 

The Self-Guided Trail Map combines the mileage map with information about the native flora and fauna. 

We also have self-guided trail maps that target Sciene TEKS for different grade levels:
K-2nd Self Guided Trail Map
3th-5th Self Guided Trail Map 
6th-12th Self Guided Trail Map