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24 March . 2020

Explore Wilderness Park, now open as Rancho Sienna’s newest park

Wilderness Park, Rancho Sienna’s newest park, is designed to inspire adventure and exploration for residents, especially kids.

Tucked into a forest of native live oaks and other trees along Rancho Sienna’s six-mile trail system, this linear park unfolds along a winding trail to reveal three outdoor “rooms,” or areas where residents can gather and play.

The vision for Wilderness Park came to Newland’s Rainer Ficken, vice president of operations, as he was walking through the wooded area one day.

“This is the site of our final park and trail section in Rancho Sienna, and we wanted to create something very special, to finish off our vision of providing over 100 acres of amenities and natural open space in the community,” he said. “As I walked through the big old oak trees, I thought about how kids of my generation used to roam and play freely in nature. I wanted to offer our young residents today the same kind of opportunity.”

As its name suggests, Wilderness Park remains largely in its natural state, with the play areas providing rustic amenities that give kids plenty of room to let their own imaginations run wild.

“The sense of adventure begins with the gradual revealing of the park along the trail, which meanders and climbs up and down along the Hill Country topography,” Ficken said. “From one of the two entrances, you don’t encounter any of the play areas until you’re about halfway down the trail. It’s truly a hidden surprise.”

The first area along the trail offers a giant tipi structure in a circular clearing. With its crushed asphalt surface, it’s an inviting place for kids to run around and explore, or engage in activities. With its solar powered lighting, it would make a fun spot for nighttime storytelling.

The second area has a bird blind structure that residents can hide behind to observe native birds in the park. For birdwatchers who are extra-patient, there are stone benches to sit on. A series of balance beams invites residents to test their coordination.

This area also a unique “tree ring” sculpture with key dates in Texas history, including the first Spanish settlement in 1860, the establishment of Texas as an independent nation in 1836, and Texas statehood in 1845. Another key date noted is the opening of Rancho Sienna in 2015.

The third and largest area offers a treehouse playscape, along with an outdoor dining deck cantilevered over a hillside.

To reach the treehouse fort, kids cross a swinging rope bridge hanging off a rock outcropping. They can also climb a ladder or scale two arched rails to reach the playhouse.

Shaded by a canopy of mature live oaks, the hillside dining deck has two tables with benches. Open rails preserve the views while ensuring safety.

Like other parks in Rancho Sienna, Wilderness Park repurposes natural materials from elsewhere in the community. These include the cedar timbers used for the tipi, bird blind, trailheads and other structures. Likewise, the rocks used for the outcropping in the playhouse area, retaining walls and other structures are from the community. So are the mulch, rocks and timbers used along the trail. In areas that needed a more stable surface, pulverized recycled asphalt was used.

Continuing another Rancho Sienna tradition, developed areas of the park were seeded with native wildflowers.

There are two entrances to Wilderness Park. The first trailhead is located along Rancho Sienna Loop, near Pisa Lane. This entrance requires a longer walk before reaching the park’s outdoor room areas.

The second entrance, along Berkeley Place, offers a shorter walk into the park area.

Along with offering a new recreational amenity for Rancho Sienna residents, Wilderness Park provides a limited number of homesites with park views for new homes in two new neighborhoods. Some homesites will include backyard gates opening to the park area.

One neighborhood offers new homes by Perry and Trendmaker, at prices starting from the low $300,000s. The second offers homes by Chesmar and Pulte, with prices from the low $200,000s. Both neighborhoods are open for home sales; please contact each builder for information.

Explore all of our parks and trails at Rancho Sienna.