Mayfield Park is well-known for being an oasis in central Austin with an historic cottage, ponds filled with koi and turtles, idyllic gardens and its famous resident peacocks. The peacocks have been living at the park since 1935 when the owners received a pair as a Christmas present from friends. Descendants of that original pair still live on the property. What you might not realize is that outside of the stone gates is the 21-acre Mayfield Preserve, which is part of the city-managed 15 preserve system.
The Preserve is the perfect introduction to hiking for younger children, as the trails lead you through a mere 0.9 miles of forest and you don’t experience any huge change in elevation. The paths are not stroller-friendly. Older kids (and adults) can also enjoy a short hike that leaves plenty of time to explore the grounds of Laguna Gloria next door or even climb to the top of Mount Bonnell, which is less than a mile away.
You can access the Lake Trail Loop on the side of the parking lot nearest to the cottage. When you reach your first opportunity to turn on the trail, if you veer right, you will connect to the Lake Trail. The Lake Trail takes you to the other side of the parking lot and can even lead to Laguna Gloria, along the shores of Lake Austin. If you veer left from the Lake Trail Loop, you can take either the Meadow Loop or the Creek Trail to the Bell Trail. The Bell Trail ends at the stone walls on the far side of the cottage and grounds. You can return back to the parking lot by entering the Park through the gate with the bell on top (hence the name Bell Trail). The trails are, for the most part, very shady and many cross Barrow Creek, which is a perfect spot to cool off on a hot day.
Since there are technically six trails, it can be difficult to tell exactly which trail you are on and which path to take to get back to the parking lot, even though virtually all trails head back to the same location. If you’d prefer to print out a map before you head out, you can find one here.
There is no admission fee at Mayfield. There is a portable toilet at the edge of the parking lot and water fountains near the ponds and at the entrance of the preserve. Dogs are not allowed. If you’d like to spend more time enjoying Mayfield Park and Preserve, there are picnic tables along the outside of the stone walls which are a perfect spot for a post-hike snack or picnic. Volunteers feed the peacocks daily and encourage visitors not to feed or chase the animals.
What’s your favorite thing about Mayfield Park or Preserve?
–> Looking for more great trails to visit with the kids? Check out:
- Top 10 Family Hikes in Austin
- River Place Nature Trail
- Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve
- Bull Creek Greenbelt
- McKinney Falls
About the author: A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole Basham uses her 10-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau’s words, her mission is to “suck out all the marrow of life”, or in her son’s words, to cultivate in him a love of adventures.