Westcave Preserve is a great place to tour on weekends. Westcave is the remains of a cave that had the ceiling collapse tens of thousands of years ago. Water falls from a creek into a huge grotto containing a pool of water around 25 feet deep. Lush ferns and moss cover areas fed by the creek.
Tours run only on weekends. A guide will take a group of people along a wooded trail with a detour to the observation platform high above the Pedernales River. Along the way, our guide did a great job of educating us about plant and animal life in the area as well as the geology. As the group continued down the trail, we started dropping down through boulders and cliffs.
As we dropped in elevation, we were under a huge canopy of trees. With cliffs on both sides of the small valley and water running through it, the vegetation made its own climate. There is a lot more moisture that is trapped under the trees. The combination of moisture and shade made the area cooler.
As we continued to hike into the little valley, we were warned not to stray off the trail. The LCRA, which operates Westcave Preserve, wants to maintain the area to keep it as natural as possible. Another thing about staying on the path was that we could avoid poison ivy.
Continuing on, we saw huge cypress trees, the age of many having been estimated at 300 to 600 years old. Various forms of fern were all over the place where there was water. Water dripped down from the cliffs on the left and we could see ferns growing on the sides of the cliffs from the constant supply of water.
The huge grotto at the end of the canyon is amazing. I'll let the photos speak to that. The cave is small, but part of it is alive. We could see water dripping from the ceiling forming stalactites and soda straws. Where the constantly dripping water hit the floor of the cave, we saw stalagmites forming. In the cave there is also some flowstone forming.
To get to Westcave Preserve, take Highway 71 past 620 and turn left on Hamilton Pool Road. Take that past the turn for Hamilton Pool and then slow down a lot. The road has a series of hairpin turns that take you down to the one lane bridge that crosses the Pedernales River. After crossing the river, look for the signs on the right.
For more information, visit the Westcave Preserve website.
These photos were taken by and are property of Sam Chapman, so consider them protected by U.S. copyright law. Having said that, if you wish to use any of these on a website, please give appropriate credit and show my url, which is www.austinrealestateguy.com.
If you know of anyone needing to buy or sell a home in the Austin area, have them call me at 512-293-2422.