Hittin’ the Trails with Erik Stanley

By Erik Stanley – September 5, 2020
Photo courtesy of Erik Stanley.

When COVID-19 hit, I was pretty anxious about having my son at home full time. My wife and I both work full time and our 2.5-year-old son, Wyatt, had previously been going to daycare five days/week. I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to balance my work, time with my family, and (what was left of) my social life. That first week at home, along with most other parents in Austin, I was really stressed out.

Taking care of a toddler was daunting as they require a lot of attention and have endless amounts of energy. Fortunately, as a running coach and the founder of Trail Roots, my schedule is flexible—so I decided I would take on the bulk of the daycare needs. 

After a few weeks of struggling through day after day screenings of “Monsters Inc.”, “Frozen”, and other cartoons on repeat, I had to get us outside. I started having glimpses of hope; realizing that COVID-19 was going to help me get outside with Wyatt—which is what I had wanted to do all along. I hadn’t yet because I easily could find more work to do on any given day, and that’s what I typically did. Work didn’t really slow down—it sped up. I was constantly trying to find new ways to keep my members and running community engaged and training through all this. I had to get creative—and that took some work. 

I had to become more efficient with my time. Now that Wyatt was home, it was up to me to create a space where we could have fun and he could learn and grow and explore—so we hit the trails.

We started going to a little swimming hole at the top of Bull Creek off of Old Spicewood Springs Rd. We rarely saw people out there as it was not one of the main trails. 

I didn’t want to be passing people all the time on the trail and wanted to be able to keep my distance, so once the creek dried up and the rain stopped, I started seeking out new places to go. I started keeping an eye out for little trails that would pop up on the map when I was out and about on a bike ride or driving around town. I kept my eyes out for trails and parks that I never had been to or heard of, and they could be in a neighborhood, off the side of a highway, or anywhere that was safe and allowed for social distance. 

Here are a few I found and want to share with the Austin Fit community. What I really like about them is that they aren’t typically crowded and have a few wading spots where you and your kiddo can cool off: 

Spicewood Valley Trail – I noticed a trail coming out of the woods and Wyatt and I decided to check it out. You can park on the side of Scotland Well Dr just off Spicewood Springs. Usually, I see about 2-3 people the entire trip

  • Trail Distance – 1.25 mi out (2.5 mi round trip)
  • Single Track with a swimming hole at about halfway (dammed up spring)
  • You can hike out at the Mountain View Park or go all the way to the Balcones Country Club lake before you turn around.

Twin Creeks Trailhead – I would have never even known this trail was there without seeing it on the map. There is a small parking lot on the left when you enter. Park and then cross through the gate and continue straight on the paved road/path. What is awesome about this path is it is paved, so just about anyone can go. There is a historical home on route plus back in the woods is a hidden cave you can have lunch in! There is a spring flowing just about year-round too with plenty of little swimming/play spots for the kids. (Pro tip: bring mosquito spray!)   

Bauerle Ranch Trail – Great for a longer hike with the kids up to 4-5 miles. There is a seasonal creek that dries up when we go for longer periods without rain.

I realized the most important thing for us was to get out of the house. I needed to get away from the cycle of daily chores and work while he watched TV or played with his toys. The days we do these hikes, we have the best time and have strengthened our relationship. The little kids really want your full attention, and while we can’t always give it, try to take advantage of the times you are able to. I hope you enjoy your time on the trail!


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