In 2000, voters approved $25 million for Williamson County Park improvements. With part of this bond money, the county acquired 800 acres in southwest Williamson County to establish a large and diverse park located on Sam Bass Road between Round Rock and Cedar Park.
The park has grown steadily over the last decade. The county has continued to add to the initial sports fields that were built in the first five year phase. Throughout the life of the park, it has maintained a dual personality. It can be abuzz with sporting events and large gatherings one day, and a tranquil place for a reflective stroll around its hike-and-bike paths the next. It’s an unusual and happy mix for a public park.
Over time, more of the acreage has been developed for various purposes, but much of the parkland maintains its native state providing diverse opportunities to enjoy wildlife and secluded pathways. Some report seeing more white tail deer along the 2-miles of native trail than people on dawn or dusky walks.
Sports Courts, Hiking Trails, a Miniature Railroad and a Sun Soaked Water Park
A variety of sports are supported by park facilities. The park includes 11 soccer fields, eight tennis courts, six basketball courts, two softball diamonds, a playscape and a football field ringed by a 400 meter track and with grandstands to seat 200. There is also a large open green play space for tumbling, kite flying, Frisbee, or just fooling around. Several restroom and concession stands are located throughout the complex of playing fields.
Some of the more than four miles of trails in the developed portion of the park are covered with a flat cinder surface that’s perfect for walking or jogging. More natural mulch-based trails traverse the native sections of the park are great for more extended and tranquil walks, nature hikes, and bike rides.
In 2006 the park opened its new professionally designed 18-basket disk golf course. A significant portion of the two mile long course is shaded by native trees, cooling the experience while creating a challenging rough. At about the same time, a miniature railroad was completed on the southern portion of the park. The Cedar Rock Railroad by Texas Bells and Whistles is locally owned and operated by Ken and Holly Knowles. A lifelong dream to own their own miniature railroad line inspired the Knowles to fabricate and install every foot of the over 1.3 miles of ties and steel track through the wilderness. They also found time to complete custom improvements to their new natural gas-powered ¼ scale locomotive that features smoke and sound effects. Remarkably, their dedication allowed them to complete the project in less than six months. A trip through the woods and around other portions of the park is a lot of fun for a very nominal fee.
A more recent addition to the park’s list of amenities is the Quarry Splash Pad. Fashioned from the remains of an old limestone quarry, it looks like a natural formation – but with water geysers, a waterfall, 3 water cannons and a water washed rock slide to keep kids cool and having a ball during hot central Texas summers. The quarry is developed into smaller play pockets including a popular sand pile play area and several free-standing showers to leave the sand in the park prior to entering the waters of the pad area or heading home. Liberally appointed with shade structures, a concession stand, and restrooms, this little limestone oasis provides a full day of water-cooled fun in the sun for a small admission charge.
County Park Maintains its Balance
To complete the many improvements that have been added since the land was purchased in 2000, large portions of land were cleared and manicured for sports and recreation. But the sections that have stayed wild and natural remain a vital and significant attraction as well. The contrast of between the excitement around championship softball games, throngs attending soccer matches, or crowds of kids having fun at the splash pad – and the quiet contemplative peace of bird watching or taking a serene walk through nature is remarkable.