Blair Woods Nature Preserve

Protected for wildlife. Open to All.
5401 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin TX 78721
Hours: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Blair Woods is a 10-acre urban oasis open to all members of the community for hands-on nature immersion in East Austin. A nature trail loop traces a pond, prairie, spring, and woodlands. Along the way, signs featuring Rusty the Lizard describe local habitat and the many birds, plants, insects, and animals that call Blair Woods home.

Blair Woods is free and open to the public. We invite you to come meet the natural side of Central Texas. We are eager to introduce you and your family to the birds, butterflies, flowers, trees, and other wildlife that make Austin such a unique place to live.

Thanks to the support of many partners, we have revitalized the trails at Blair Woods to be wheelchair- and stroller-friendly and increase access to many of the highlights of the property, including the pond, pollinator garden, water feature, and Texas historical marker. Over the next few years, you will see more exciting changes take place, like new wayfinding and interpretive signage, creating a welcoming environment for your next nature adventure. We’re working to track and improve the biodiversity of the sanctuary. Be sure to keep coming back to see what’s new!

Please note that dogs are not permitted on the property, and bikes are not permitted on the trails.

Upcoming Events     

   Wednesday Workday, Feb 28   

It’s My Park Day, Mar 2nd

Forest Bathing at Blair Woods, March 10

   Wednesday Workday,  Mar 6

   Wednesday Workday, Mar 13 

Blair Woods Nature Day with SkyKings- March 30

Native Bee Workshop, May 4

 

Our History

The ten acres that became Blair Woods were gifted to Travis Audubon in 1985 by Dr. Frank Blair, a noted zoologist and University of Texas professor, and his wife Fern. However, Blair Woods has a rich history preceding The Blairs. As the site of Coleman Springs, it was located near centuries-old trading routes, and was located along an ancillary route of El Camino Real de los Tejas. Ft. Colorado, a Republic of Texas-era military post, was built nearby in 1836, and was a place of meeting and commerce for Spanish and Anglo colonizers and Native peoples. You can learn more about Indigenous peoples and their use of Blair Woods and other sites along the Camino by exploring To Relate, a video project about Native American Historical Events in Texas.

Later in the nineteenth century, the property was acquired by newly arrived Swiss immigrants, who operated a dairy farm for many years. You can visit their restored barn today. The Blairs bought the property from their descendants in 1951.

Dr. Blair often used his acreage as a learning environment for his UT research students, who mostly worked on herpetology projects. After many years of collecting essays from his students, he used the papers to build the dam that created the still-existing pond. He called this the “Dam of Words.”

Dr. Blair is remembered fondly by his neighbors and former students. He would often invite the neighborhood children to play and learn on his property. He had an iguana and other animals which were an endless source of fascination for the neighboring children.

As habitat restoration of Blair Woods continues, Travis Audubon hopes that new neighbors will become engaged in learning about this important natural area. We hope that Blair Woods will be a “living lab” for future generations.

 

Restoration 

Over the last 20-30 years, Blair Woods became degraded due to the spread of non-native plants and pollution from trash and urban runoff. When non-native plants become invasive, they outcompete the native vegetation upon which wildlife depends. The creek and pond are also impacted as native plants are displaced by invasive non-natives. Our restoration program is helping to re-establish a biodiverse woodland, prairie, and riparian corridor.

Travis Audubon engages volunteers at six work days each year to help with these restoration projects. Assistance from groups such as American Youth Works and the Austin Fire Department accelerates the restoration process. The current plan is to remove the non-native invasive plants by 2024 and encourage natives to grow in perpetuity.

 

Blair Woods’ Adopt-a-Bench Program

A bench is a wonderful way to memorialize or honor a loved one. In 2023, Travis Audubon installed its first memorial bench in honor of beloved friend and birder, Ethel Kutac, and we have mapped out places on the property where more benches can be placed to provide shade and respite to Blair Woods’ visitors. Benches may be installed with a gift of $10,000, which covers the cost of materials and installation, as well as any maintenance and repair for 10 years. In recognition of bench contributions, Travis Audubon will provide a personalized plaque of the donor’s choosing on the bench. These contributions also support maintenance and programming at Blair Woods.

Interested in adopting a bench? Email cheyenne@travisaudubon.org for more information

 

Ways To Get Involved

 

Restoration Workdays

Blair Woods needs your help! Our restoration efforts make a tremendous difference in creating a biodiverse woodland, prairie, and riparian corridor. Volunteers are needed to remove non-native invasive plants, plant native vegetation, spread seed, water, and maintain trails. Go to our website calendar to see the schedule of volunteer work days. 

 

Guided Tours

Do you have a group that is interested in learning more about Blair Woods? Travis Audubon staff and volunteers would be delighted to take you on a natural history tour of the property. We accept both adult and youth groups. Contact caley@travisaudubon.org for details.

Please note: By participating in this Travis Audubon activity, you are subject to our Event Policies and Liability Waiver. Please click here to review this policy.

 

Our Sponsors

We cannot carry out our restoration and education efforts at Blair Woods without the help of our sponsors. If you would like to become a sponsor for our work at Blair Woods, please contact Cheyenne Moore at cheyenne@travisaudubon.org.

2023 Sponsors:

Applied Materials Foundation, Audubon Foundation of Texas, Austin Community Foundation, The Bill M. and Cecile Autrey Ham Charitable Foundation, Laura and Thad Avery, City of Austin Urban Forest Grant Program, The Jacob and Terese Hershey Foundation, Preservation Austin, Travis County Historical Commission, Peggy and Matt Winkler

 

Plan Your Visit

Blair Woods is free to visit and open to the public daily from 10 AM to 4 PM. Access Blair Woods from the MLK entrance, which is marked by a mailbox (it’s easy to miss). A packed gravel road will take you to a small lot where you can park.

There are accessible trails starting at the parking lot and connecting to the barn, around the pond and the pollinator garden, and along the northern boundary of the property adjacent to MLK. The rest of the trails are mulched. There is a clean, wheelchair-friendly portacan onsite.

Mountain bikes and dogs aren’t permitted on the trails.

 

Print the Blair Woods Sanctuary trail map here!

Past

Future Events