Miller Springs Nature Center is a unique nature park that has something for everyone including handicapped, hiking, jogging and biking trails. The 10.8 miles of trails will satisfy the needs of those who desire an easy and leisurely walk to the more demanding uphill hikers! The 260 acre park includes 10 blazed trail loops and many other connecting and access trails taking you through wetlands, canyons, upland forests and prairie habitats and it supports myriads of wildflowers, birds, butterflies, and many other types of interesting plants and animals.

There are also 2 fun biking loops, Prairie(1.2 miles) and South River(1.4 miles), 2 great bike access trails (West Access and Old Forest) leading to them, 2 canyon bike trails and 1 bike trail leading to the historic Iron Bridge along the Leon River.

Click on the individual trails to get additional information.

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The Rim Trail – Handicap Accessible (0.7 miles) Hiking icon

Rim Trail - Miller Springs Nature Center

Walkway crossing the Belton Dam Spillway.

This wheelchair-friendly crushed granite trail descends a 15-foot escarpment by way of a sturdy steel ramp that leads to a community-sponsored boardwalk across the edge of the spillway.  The level trail affords wonderful views of the Leon River valley, the limestone wall of the new canyon carved by the 1992 flood and the mural wall.  Wildflowers are plentiful anytime there is sufficient rainfall. The trail leads to the trailheads for the Armadillo, Bee Suck Hollow, Beaver Ponds, Tennessee Valley Loop and West Access Trails and culminates at a wonderful overlook of the Tenneessee Valley.

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The Tennessee Valley Historic Road Hiking iconBiking_icon

Tennessee Valley Historic Bridge - Miller Springs Nature Center

The Iron Bridge across a Leon River Tributary

This trail contains about 3/4 of a mile of the southern section of the road that ran from Belton, to the small town of Tennessee Valley, which was submerged when the lake was formed. The trail starts at the southern most boundary of the park and crosses a creek via an old iron bridge on its way north. It continues northward along the South River Trail, the Prairie Loop Trail, and the interconnect to the Bee Suck Hollow Trail. The central portion of the road was washed out by the flood of 1992. The remaining section of road can still be hiked to the northwest along the southwest segment of the Tennessee Valley Loop Trail.

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Armadillo Trail Hiking icon

Time: 10 minutes
Blaze: Blue
Difficulty: *

This level trail twists through pleasant mountain cedar forest through open meadows and over exposed limestone shelves, and forms a loop back to the Rim Trail. Midway around the loop, a connecting trail sharply descends the edge of the dam to connect to the Tennessee Valley Loop.(0.41 miles)

Armadillo Trail - Miller Springs Nature Center

An upland meadow just above the Mural Wall.

 

North Trail Hiking icon

Time: 7 minutes
Blaze: Orange
Difficulty: *

A beautiful trail takes you through upland forest and along a scenic limestone ledge with a great view showing prairie flowers and the mural wall. The southern part of the trail is handicapped accessible and provides access to many other trails via the walk across the spillway. The northern part of the trail provides several popular access paths to Bee Suck Hollow.(0.38 miles)

North Trail - Miller Springs Nature Center

A shaded walkway thru the forest.

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Beaver Ponds Trail Hiking icon

Time: 30 minutes
Blaze: Tan
Difficulty: *

This unique trail wanders through the forest at the top of the lower bluff. It crosses 2 small creeks that run all the time no matter how dry it is. The larger creek forms a small waterfall as it goes over the edge of the bluff.  Just north of the west end of the trail one can hike over to the Hidden Spring, with its small pool filled with water plants and the occasional crayfish. At the north end of the trail one crosses several intermittent creeks, a beaver dam and beaver slide. The eastern trail travels along several ponds with at least one beaver dam. One often sees water birds on this part of the trail. To the south is the stone bridge bringing you back to where you began.(0.73 miles)

Great Blue Heron - Miller Springs Nature Center

Great Blue Heron

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South River Trail Hiking iconBiking_icon

Time: 50 minutes
Blaze: Purple
Difficulty: *

The South River trail has it all and is open to bikers, joggers and hikers. Starting from the stone bridge one goes south through pleasant meadows and forest. There is a nice view of the Leon River with Miller Springs Park on the opposite bank. Turning east one then travels a winding trail along the banks of the Leon River thru pleasant woodlands emerging finally on the old Tennessee Valley Road. Head north over the historic iron bridge into the open prairie, dotted with occasional clusters of forest. In the spring and fall the prairie is filled with innumerable numbers of wildflowers. The trail then turns west in the open prairie with with occasional deer being seen late in the day and passes the southern end of the beaver ponds before ending at the stone bridge. (Length: 1.4 miles)

Gayfeather plant

Gayfeather Flowers blooming in the Prairie.

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Old River Trail Hiking icon

Time: 20 minutes
Blaze: Gray
Difficulty: *

This trail is closed while work is proceeding on the dam. This includes the road and trail along the base of the dam, the section to the south and east along the Leon River and the access trail in the middle of the loop. The section which joins the Old Forest Loop remains open.
This hike begins by walking alongside the outflow from the Belton Lake Dam along the raised berm. The Leon river continues while the trail enters the forest and turns north along the old river channel. The channel now consists of several ponds during low water flows and a single long strip of water during high water flows. This section is a very popular fishing spot. The trail then forks left into the old forest and continues on toward the dam. Lucky hikers will see the occasional rock squirrel hunting for food in the forest. At the dam it turns south and follows a pleasant grassy trail along the base of the dam back to the starting point. (0.73 miles)

The Old River Channel - Miller Springs Nature Center

The Old Leon River Channel.

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West Access Trail Hiking icon

Time: 14 minutes
Blaze: Green
Difficulty: ***

This short hike begins by walking along pleasant glades behind the mural wall starting from the far end of the Rim Trail. It then descends slowly along a rocky trail at the end of Belton Dam toward the old forest below. If one is patient rock squirrels may be seen amongst the rocks of the dam and in the old forest gathering food. The trail then turns northeast and follows a wide trail along the lower bluff, just above the beaver ponds. Two creeks cross this path, fed by at least 4 springs. At the end of this path is the Green Pond overlook and is at the base of a very nice climb through the forest back up to the spillway and the beginning of the mural wall. (0.7 miles)

Rock Squirrel - Miller Springs Nature Center

A Rock Squirrel returning to its nest.

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Bee Suck Hollow Trail Hiking icon

Time: 45 minutes
Blaze: Brown
Difficulty: ***

This trail meanders along both sides of the hollow with many interesting canyon plants and associated wildlife. The creek runs thru the hollow even during most dry periods. At the southern end is a nice sloping trail running alongside New Canyon while descending from the spillway. The southeast part of this trail descends the bluff to creek level and runs across a beaver dam before climbing back up to the spillway. Along the spillway one can see magnificent views of New Canyon, entirely carved by the flood of 1992. One can also access this wonderful hike by a connecting trail to be found at the northeast end of the North trail.(1.48 miles)

Golden-Cheeked Warbler

Golden-Cheeked Warbler

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Prairie Loop Hiking iconBiking_icon

Time: 35 minutes
Blaze: Pale Blue
Difficulty: *

This is an excellent trail popular with bikers, joggers and hikers, especially if you like prairie wildflowers as it travels through prairie environments for more than half of its length. The southern and part of the western path meanders through lush forests and pleasant meadows. Just before sunset one often sees numbers of deer in the eastern areas. It is also a very popular access trail to the photogenic Cox Hollow.
(1.2 miles)

Ipomopsis rubra - Standing Cypress - Miller Springs Nature Center

Standing Cypress in bloom on the prairie. You won’t wish to get too close to this jumping spider!

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Old Forest Loop Hiking iconBiking_icon

Time: 12 minutes
Blaze: Yellow
Difficulty: *

There are only a few areas in Texas where undisturbed old forest growth can be found. This trail passes through one of those areas. It is heavily forested with grape vines that are a hundred years old or older. Wildlife includes rock squirrels gathering food, birds, the occasional lizard hiding on a branch and turtles resting on logs in the numerous ponds alongside the trail. The forest can be a cool shady break from the nearby hot and sunny prairie! The western half of this trail is open to bikers on their way to the stone bridge.
(0.44 miles)

Turtle lazing on a convenient log.

Turtle relaxing on a convenient log.

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Tennessee Valley Loop Hiking icon

Time: 19 minutes
Blaze: Red
Difficulty: **

This very popular trail affords views of meadows along the northern path and then descends into deeply forested areas with 100 year old grapevines and mushrooms growing on fallen logs. Rock squirrels can be seen gathering food in the forest. It passes the short path to the hidden spring with its small pool filled with life. Along the southeastern section one crosses hidden springs creek and triple springs creek descending the bluffs. These creeks flow during even the worst of droughts. The final path climbs slowly up the bluff switch-backing its way to the top. Along the way is a small amphitheater lined with many benches and and is often used by groups for learning about the park. The southwest segment of this loop was part of the old road from Belton to the town of Tennessee Valley.
(0.64 miles)

Special Request

The Miller Springs Alliance is working hard to improve and maintain the trails and animal habitat in the Nature Center. This includes the grooming of trails, removal of fallen trees, removal of more than a thousand invasive trees and thousands of invasive plants in the past year alone. It also includes the construction of animal habitats.

All of this work is done by volunteers and we need your donations and help! Please sign up for “Friends of the News” (right column) to be notified of upcoming volunteer events. All purchases of tools and other materials critical to improving and maintaining the park are made using donations by the general public and the occasional grant by local groups. Please visit our donations page to help us support the nature center!

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