Working through the book 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Antonio and Austin, I spent last Sunday hiking the Comanche Bluff Trail (not Bluffs as the book says) maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Austin Explorer information indicates the trail is free but there is a $4 day use fee. Pick up your trail map when you pay. Although they are supposedly in boxes at the trail heads, they were empty when we were there.
The trail skirts Granger Lake. If you start at the east trail head, there’s a circular Taylor Park option. Instead, hit the trail and go to Hoxie Bridge.
According to the onsite plaque for Hoxie Bridge:
Erected at the turn of the century over the San Gabriel River 3.5 miles east of Circleville, the Hoxie Bridge was washed 300 yards downstream during the devastating 1921 flood. In November, 1921 Austin Brothers was awarded a contract to reconstruct the bridge, and a team of convict laborers was sent from Huntsville to perform the work.
According to local legend, one of the prisoners, reputed to have been a troublemaker, was shot in the head by a guard. The mutilated body was hung from a tree as a grisly warning against further trouble at the work site. A cruel death … no burial. Perhaps these were the reasons that the prisoner’s headless ghost haunted the eerie river bottom east of the Hoxie Bridge. Area residents tell tales of lovers and late night travelers frightened by the apparition on Friday nights during the full moon. Mysteriously, a priest’s prayers for the prisoner’s soul ended the spectre’s vigil.
After the 1921 reconstruction, the bridge served Williamson County residents until it was dismantled in 1979 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who erected it at the present site in 1982…..
Taking a right at the end of Hoxie Bridge, the narrow trail meanders through the woods, with the occasional peek at Granger Lake.
Eventually, you reach Friendship Bridge. Both of these bridges have been moved from their original location.
Continue without using side trails and you’ll reach the west trail head. Head back from this point and you will have 3.5 miles. Markers along the path indicate every 10th/mile. Going all the way to the primitive campground will add about another 6 miles round trip.
Not much to see in terms of furry critters but plenty of butterflies and birds.
The park closes at dark unless you’re camping. And that’s when you’ll want to check out haunted Hoxie Bridge. On a Friday night with a full moon.