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‘Old Baldy’ to be Honored at 2012 Austin Tree of the Year Award Celebration

By October 11, 2012No Comments

2012 Austin Tree of the YearThe winner of the 2012 Austin Tree of the Year Award is ‘Old Baldy’ –  a majestic bald cypress growing along the Rock Shelter Trail at McKinney Falls State Park.  July Texas Forestry Service measurements recorded Old Baldy at 103 feet tall with a circumference of 16 feet 3 inches.  Old Baldy is estimated to be around 550 years old.  The park held a 549th birthday celebration for the beloved bald cypress this past July.

Amber Conrad, Interpretative Specialist at McKinney Falls State Park, nominated Old Baldy for the 2012 awards saying:

While Columbus made plans that would lead him to America, a little bald cypress sapling in Central Texas was growing up along Onion Creek.  Today that tree, known as Old Baldy, is estimated to be over 500 years old and stands over 100 feet tall.

We Austinites sometimes forget that we have an entire state park in our backyard.  Located completely within the city limits, McKinney Falls State Park is home to a bald cypress that reaches 103 feet off the ground, is almost three grown men wide and has a root system that extends at least two school buses in every direction.

We are nominating Old Baldy the bald cypress at the park for Austin’s Tree of the Year Award because we truly believe it is a living treasure of Texas.  Its peaceful and calming presence fosters an entire community of diverse wildlife in the park including a colony of honey bees, bald moss and the occasional wood duck.

We want to bring awareness of this tree to Austin and Central Texas as we update information about Old Baldy, a task not completed for well over a decade.

Austin Tree of the Year Award Ceremony
Monday, October 15, 2012 from 12:00 to 2:00 pm
McKinney Falls State Park, 5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy, Austin, TX 78744

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell will present  a plaque to the park commemorating the tree’s distinction at noon on Monday, October 15.  “It is my pleasure to honor Old Baldy the bald cypress with the City of Austin’s 2012 Tree of the Year distinction,” said Mayor Leffingwell. “I hope folks will head out to McKinney Falls State Park to visit Old Baldy – after all, having an entire state park in the city’s limits offers Austinites a great opportunity to easily get out and explore nature.”

After a short dedication ceremony at the Upper Falls scenic lookout point at the Smith Visitor’s Center small groups will be escorted off-trail to view the beloved tree.  Native tree saplings (Western soapberry, Catclaw, Texas mountain laurel, and Mexican buckeye) will be available at the event as well as a fully guided on-trail group tour at 1 p.m.

For more information on this event contact TreeFolks’ Education & Volunteer Coordinator, Greg Mast at or (512) 443-LEAF.

Many thanks to Austin Tree of the Year Award 2012 Partners:
City of Austin
International Society of Arboriculture Texas Chapter
Keep Austin Beautiful
Texas Forest Service
University of Texas
Austin Urban Forestry Board