It’s no wonder Austin ranks among the top 20 fittest cities in America (Forbes, Time, Men’s Fitness), with its sheer volume of fantastic trails at every corner to keep this city and its people alive and thriving.
By Sylvia Kim
Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail
It can be tough to choose where to go for your morning run. However, Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail is a first choice for thousands of experienced Austin dwellers. Breathe in this city as you walk, run or bike. Now complete with a boardwalk for a non-stop experience, this trail is the epitome of Austin, with views of both the towering cityscape and natural lake waters. Beginning on the First Street Bridge, take a tour of downtown through this 10-mile journey of trails, with areas fit for everyone from the leisurely to the fitness junkie.
McKinney Falls State Park
For all you nature lovers out there, McKinney Falls State Park offers an all-around experience for those who want to escape Austin’s concrete jungles and be surrounded by nature’s un-tampered beauty. Hikers, mountain bikers and even fishers are welcome, and if you get tired of that, you can always go for a swim at Onion Creek, which will treat you with the sights and sounds of falls. The only hints of humanity dwelling in this picturesque park are the reminiscent ruins of Thomas F. McKinney’s limestone home and the campsites, which you should be sure to catch, along with Old Baldy, a 103-foot-tall, 500-year-old cypress tree. McKinney Falls State Park is located on 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway, with an entry fee of $6. Explore for a morning or camp out until dawn at one of the best parks Austin has to offer.
St. Edwards Park
Don’t want to leave your significant other at home? No worries. Bring your furry pet to St. Edwards Park. It’s got rejuvenating streams throughout the entire park and signature Texas cacti. Shed some sweat hiking and running then take a moment to sit, relax and dip your toes in the water. It’s slightly undiscovered but a valuable visit, so don’t be surprised if you run into moments of peace and serenity staring out into the Hill Country. Located on 7301 Spicewood Springs Road, with a span of about three miles, St. Edwards Park is a definite must for Austin hikers.
Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park
Take things one step further at Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park with an off-the-leash area for your dog to run free alongside you. Located at 12138 N. Lamar Blvd., this park is a fan favorite, especially for mountain bikers. With 15 miles of winding roads and hills, Walnut Creek is a wonderful place to get safely lost if you choose, but don’t worry, the trail markers will keep you on your way. Bike or hike the trails, or bring your dog and kids to enjoy its many facilities, such as the playground and basketball, softball and volleyball courts. Knowing that all of that exercise will make you hungry, Walnut Creek provides barbeque pits, along with picnic areas and even a swimming pool to top off your epic summer adventure.
Barton Creek Greenbelt
You can’t get much greener than the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Considered one of the best trails in Texas, Barton Creek provides Austinites with everything and more. Whether you want to walk, run, hike, bike, swim or even climb, Barton Creek Greenbelt’s got you covered. Pet friendly, these seven miles of trails provide a whole new perspective of beauty to counteract city life. Adventure is out there for those who are willing to find it, beginning at 3755-B Capital of Texas Highway. Summer’s not done and the tranquil beauty of the greenbelt isn’t going to quit any time soon. So take the chance on a trail that will never disappoint.
Photo Credits: Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail photo courtesy of 365thingsaustin.com; McKinney Falls photo courtesy of tpwd.state.texas.us; St. Edwards Park photo courtesy of austinparks.org; Walnut Creek and Barton Creek photos courtesy of Austin Parks Foundation.