Bright Leaf Preserve

 Photo by Nancy Woolley

Bright Leaf Preserve, a 216-acre nature preserve in west Austin, welcomes more than 1,500 visitors each year for scheduled hikes led by trained guides. 

School children, families, educators, botanists and geologists benefit from this protected wooded refuge and its maze of creeks and spectacular views of Lake Austin and the Hill Country.

Located south of 2222 and Mesa Drive, Bright Leaf Preserve is a unique Central Texas resource known for:

  • Hundreds of plant species, including some that are quite rare
  • Endangered animal species like the Golden Cheeked Warbler
  • A thriving ecosystem that’s home to deer, Great Horned owls, jackrabbits and armadillos


Georgia B. Lucas grew up enjoying the breezy hilltop cabin near Mount Bonnell where her family retreated during Austin’s hot summers. The young artistically-minded Lucas explored the shaded paths and creek, enjoying the bird song and wildflowers. As a savvy businesswoman, Lucas later purchased the land that makes up Bright Leaf through 34 separate real estate transactions. At the end of her life, she wished to preserve the land so others could appreciate it and benefit from its beauty. She envisioned a place for visitors to take guided hikes to learn about the land’s geology, biology and ecology.

In 2006, the ownership and management of the preserve transferred to the Austin Community Foundation which was better-equipped to carry out Lucas’s specific wishes to limit access to guided hikes in order to best preserve the area.

Friends of Bright Leaf

Bright Leaf thrives through the devoted and generous efforts of a community of volunteers who call themselves Friends of Bright Leaf. Schedule a hike 

Bright Leaf Preserve is a valued resource for a broad community of people and organizations to educate, collaborate and inspire:

  • American YouthWorks
  • Austin Community College
  • Austin Independent School District
  • Austin Youth River Watch
  • Boy Scouts
  • Dell Valle ISD
  • EcoTexas
  • Hill Country Hikers
  • Kirby Hall School
  • LAMP
  • Magellan International School
  • Sierra Club
  • St. Edward’s University
  • St. Stephens School
  • Sun City Hikers
  • SXSW Eco
  • Travis Audubon Society
  • University of Texas at Austin

"As a volunteer tour docent, I've met a wide variety of people and learned tiny pieces of their life-story. I've learned that their hours inside Bright Leaf are special to them, whether they know it or not at the time.”

Bright Leaf Preserve volunteer

Want to schedule a guided hike for your family or school group?

Learn about Central Texas flora and fauna while enjoying the healing peace of nature right in the center of Austin.

Plan your visit

Related Resources

Turning passion into philanthropy

Learn how Georgia B. Lucas turned her life’s passions into philanthropy by creating Bright Leaf Preserve and an endowed fund that has given $10 million in grants.

Learn how we help  local nonprofits build sustainability for the future

Native wildlife isn’t the only Central Texas resource we are working to preserve. Learn about how we help local nonprofits build sustainability for the future.