Did you know that real dinosaur tracks exist just outside of Austin? We’ve been twice now, and it’s definitely an exciting adventure each time! They’re a bit tricky to find, but we can show you the way. Here’s how to find real dinosaur tracks in Leander (or you can use these directions). Please check google maps ahead of going to see if it’s still temporarily closed for construction!
How To Find Real Dinosaur Tracks in Leander
This map shows you how to find the trailhead and where to park:
Parking can be confusing your first time. The google map directions take you off on an exit that isn’t the right way. You have to park in the middle of the 183, between North and South, rather than exit the freeway. Right above the San Gabriel River, there’s a dirt lot where you can park. This is where you should park. **Edited to add: this area is currently under construction. You will have to park along the side of the road along 183 South.***
Finding the Trail
Head down the dirt path to the left of the black fence:
Then head left so you go under the bridge:
You’ll see this graffiti and you’re in the right place!
Finding the Tracks
Head west once you hit the riverbed. It will most likely be dry, unless there’s been some rain recently. I would still recommend wearing water hiking shoes, because there is usually enough water here to splash around in (although there is a way to avoid it if you want to).
You’ll go west along the riverbed for about a half mile. Keep going until you can no longer see the bridge. If you want to avoid the water, go up the bank on the left side of the riverbed. There is a trail (it can be overgrown on both sides, but it’s there). Sometimes the water can be so deep that you can’t walk through it without being waste-deep, which isn’t good for little kids who can’t swim yet. Plus, I wouldn’t swim in that water anyway if it isn’t flowing. Keep looking down while you walk so you don’t miss the footprints. They can be hard to see the first time.
This was how deep the water was when we went, so we did the trail up the riverbank to the left:
Once you get past the deep part, you can walk back down on the riverbed:
We went on a summer day, and there were dozens of toads everywhere. My toddler was definitely more interested in catching toads than seeing the tracks, so that was a nice added adventure for him.
There is little to no shade along the riverbed, so be sure to wear sunscreen and hats and bring plenty of water if you go on a hot day!
These used to be filled in with white plaster, making them really stand out. Someone tried digging the plaster out, so they aren’t as noticeable.
This one is close to the one that used to be filled in:
Once you’ve seen the footprints, the riverbed keeps going:
We usually turn around and head back to the car after we spot the tracks (after catching a few more toads, of course).