Roy Guerrero Park & Longhorn Dam

eBird – Roy Guerrero Park
eBird – Longhorn Dam

Highlights:

-Access to Longhorn Dam and the Colorado River
-Maintained gravel trails

Trail Length:
1.15 mi. wooded loop
.65 baseball field loop with river access

The Colorado River below Longhorn Dam

The Location

Located just southeast of downtown Austin, Roy Guerrero Metro Park provides birders with river access at Longhorn Dam. It also features a nature trail loop on the east side of the park through a mix of wooded and shrubby habitat composed mostly of Huisache and Cedar Elm.

Birding the whole park in an hour is possible, but seeing more than 25 species usually takes 2+ hours. Winter months are typically the most productive, often producing 35-40 different birds during a longer visit.

Note: The bridge that used to connect the eastern and western halves of this park is no longer present due to the historic 2015 Memorial Day flood. Birding both halves requires driving to each side separately.

Nature Trail Loop

Birding Recommendations

Google Maps will automatically take you to the eastern parking lot on Grove Blvd., which is the side that has the nature trail loop but no river access. To bird the west side (dam side), use the parking lot off S Pleasant Valley Road.

One of the Grove Blvd. Parking Lots

The nature trail loop is pretty straightforward. The northern half is more shrubby, while the southern half is more heavily wooded with taller trees. Use your ears to first detect birds since there’s plenty of vegetation for them to hide in.

Northern Section of the Loop

At the halfway point the path turns back at a sharp angle. Here you’ll see a closed gate where the bridge used to be. It should be rebuilt by the end of 2020.

The Turn-around Point

The western half of the park is mostly baseball fields, but also has the nature trail that runs along the river. View of the river is mostly blocked by trees, but there are several clearings that provide a good view of the river and the dam. These overlook points are a great spot to pause for a few minutes and see what flies by. You may get an Osprey, heron or egret, or a calling kingfisher. Ringed Kingfishers are occasionally seen here, but Belted is far more common.

River Overlook Point

Just up the road from the dam, next to the small parking lot, is a pedestrian tunnel. It’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. Walk through it and you’ll come out next to Lady Bird Lake.

The Tunnel to Lady Bird Lake

The trail turns left and continues along the lake and follow the river for several miles.

Trail Continuing Away from Roy Guerrero Park

If you turn right immediately after exiting the tunnel and walk a short distance, you’ll get a great view of open water and this side of the dam. Scan for ducks, cormorants, and gulls on and over the lake.

Lady Bird Lake at Longhorn Dam
Lady Bird Lake

There’s not really any big birding secrets to this park. Just keep your ears open for birds calling out of sight, and look up often for flyover vultures and raptors.

Other Important Info

Here is an in-browser PDF map of Roy Guerrero Park.

Although the bridge connecting the trail loop and the dam is out, it is possible to cross the drainage for those determined enough. There’s even an established, but unofficial, footpath to follow due to people walking across. Otherwise, driving to the other side takes 8-10 minutes.

The drainage where the bridge used to be.

Also note that if baseball games are happening, the parking lots may be crowded. Morning visitors likely won’t need to worry about this.

Happy Birding!

Last Updated September 6, 2019

Have you birded Roy Guerrero Park and know something that isn’t included here? Please email your input to Colton at admin@birdinglocations.com