13 November . 2020
Discover 8 hidden secrets of Sweetwater
Sweetwater devotes more than 700 acres – or about half of our overall 1,400 acres – to parks, community centers, trails and natural open spaces.
To make sure you don’t miss any opportunity to enjoy everything Sweetwater has to offer, here’s a guide to 8 of our favorite Sweetwater secrets.
An 800-year-old tree
You can meet Sweetwater’s oldest “resident” – a Texas Madrone tree estimated to be 800 years old – along the trail following Pedernales Summit Parkway, just past the Sweetwater Club. In fall, it has bright red berries that are a favorite food for birds. In spring, its colorful and fragrant flowers attract bees and butterflies. You can identify this tree by its striking reddish-brown bark and ancient gnarled branches. Carefully preserved, it’s illuminated at night by dramatic uplighting. Sweetwater is home to a number of preserved Texas Madrone trees, but this one is by far the oldest.
Fall for our waterfalls
Like many places in the surrounding Hill Country, Sweetwater is home to seasonal waterfalls that come alive after a good rain. Some transform into roaring gushers after heavy rains, while others offer gentler trickles throughout much of the year. Natural water features are some of the most amazing sights you can discover along Sweetwater’s approximately 10-mile trail system.
Get to the grotto
Each of the six trails completed so far in Sweetwater showcase one or more outstanding natural features. One of our favorites is Maidenhair Trail, where you can discover a secret grotto with a seeping canyon wall that sustains a beautiful colony of delicate-looking Maidenhair ferns. This roughly mile-long trail also meanders past our 800-year-old Texas Madrone trees and ascends to one of the community’s highest lookout points. Check out our trail map to see how Sweetwater’s trails connect for nearly endless adventures.
Climb Hilltop Park
One of Sweetwater’s newest parks, Hilltop Park is located in the Madrone Ridge neighborhood. A winding path leads to the top of this gentle mound, where you can sit in lounge chairs under a beautiful Shumard Red Oak tree and enjoy inspiring views of Sweetwater and the surrounding Hill Country. This tree was about 33 feet tall when it was planted in 2019, and it’s surely grown some since then. In fall, it offers up a beautiful display of foliage.
Savor the sunsets
Located next to the Sweetwater Club, the Sunset Pavilion was especially designed and built to provide residents with a place to sit and enjoy the spectacular sunsets that grace the Texas Hill Country. Captured by one of our residents, this video shows just how amazing a Sweetwater sunset can be. You can walk over to enjoy the sunset by taking Sunset Trail. At less than a half-mile in length, it’s not one of our longest trails, but it packs in a lot of beautiful scenery along the way, including two creek crossings and waterfalls.
An historic trail
One of Sweetwater’s newest trails, Llano Stagecoach Trail follows part of a historic stagecoach route that ran between Austin and Llano in the 1800s. With its bold overhead arch, the new trailhead is easy to find, located in the Hidden Springs neighborhood off Pedernales Summit Parkway. Look closely as you hike this trail, and you can see parts of the two parallel gravel tracks from the stagecoach era. A brief history is provided in the trailhead marker.
Overlook Bee Creek
When you visit the Overlook Club, it’s easy to be distracted by features like the sparkling two-level swimming area. Or the amazing clubhouse, offering indoor and outdoor gathering areas. But while you’re there, take a minute to step to the edge of the deck and enjoy some incredible views of Bee Creek and the surrounding Hill Country. It’s one of the best views in all of Sweetwater.
Natural play time
A pocket park tucked away in the Mesa Ridge neighborhood, along Pedernales Summit Parkway, is another “hidden gem.” Inspired by Sweetwater’s beautiful environment, this park has naturalistic play features for kids, such as boulders and logs to clamber over. There’s also a swing set made of faux wood logs, along with a soccer field and a picnic area with a grill. Kids and grownups alike will enjoy the butterfly garden. Like all Sweetwater amenities, this pocket park is connected to the trail system, so residents can walk or cycle over to enjoy. There’s a rack for your bike.
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