The Vista Loop Trail may be taken after completing the Liveoak Trail. However, you may begin at the kiosk and follow the Vista Loop Trail and then procede to the Liveoak Trail. You will approach the following areas in reverse order beginning with Area 14 if you travel to the left from the kiosk. The Handicapped Accessible Trail is part upper section of the Vista Loop Trail.
Area 9 Arid Habitat
The vegetation changes in this area. The habitat has changed from the previous area since the soil is mostly clay, drier (above the water table) and well drained. Note the vegetation is dominated by prickly pear, mesquite, and bear grass (Molina), plants that prefer more arid conditions.
Ash juniper is a native plant, but prior to settlement of the Hill Country it was confined to the canyons and steep slopes that protected it from wildfires. As settlers suppressed wildfires, ash juniper spread across the former savannah habitat to dominate the vegetation. Spread mostly by birds dropping seeds beneath trees, ash juniper forms thick, almost inpenetratable cover called “cedar brakes.”
Area 11 Bird Blind and Feeding Area
We have seen over 160 species of birds in the park. More than 30 species have been seen in this feeding station area, mostly during the winter months. Birds require food, water and cover, all of which are present here. Please see the posted illustrations regarding the feeder types. A dripping water source is an excellent bird attracter. The nearby brush piles provide excellent cover. Look for hummingbirds in the spring and summer months. Click here to see a list of birds identified at the Nature Center.
Our Butterfly Garden, bird blind, and feeding station lie along this upper part of the trail. The upper section of the trail is also the Handicapped Accessible Trail (HAT). The two trails share the same path for 600 yards.
Area 12 Butterfly Habitat
The Butterfly Habitat garden is designed to provide an area to attract butterflies and other pollinators. It is located on the upper part of the trail where the Loop Vista and Handicapped Accessible Trail run together. The garden was built with the cooperation of many local organizations, including the Boy Scouts and the Hill Country Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists. Click here to see a list of the butterflies seen at the Nature Center.
The Butterfly Garden provides visitors examples of plants that attract butterflies by providing nectar sources as well as larval food. An artificial food source is also . The Garden also provides a photographic exhibit of butterflies you may encounter there.
Some Hill Country rock formations date back for more than one billion years. This exhibit features one specimen from each geological formation in the Hill Country and includes igneous, rnetamorphic and sedimentary rock types. In the past one billion years this area has featured mountain building periods as well as having been covered by oceans or seas more than once. Please do not deface our rock specimens.
The Texas Hill Country was formed by erosion rather than uplift. After the retreat of the Cretaceous seas that deposited thick limestone formations, the area was subjected to erosion. Drainage systems set-up by the depression of the Gulf of Mexico slowly worked their way into the limestone layers. More resistant limestone layers formed the “hill tops” as the less resistant clays and marls eroded away around them leaving a topography of mesas and canyons.