Cooler weather is on the way as we usher in fall. Take advantage of all of the many Austin-area trails offering shady areas perfect for hiking and biking. Many have creeks for splashing in, parks for playing, and natural beauty that can only be experienced by exploring on foot or by pedal. If you are taking younger kids out to learn to ride their bike this fall, keep in mind that many schools have short tracks, so that is great place to start. If you want more of a challenge, check out these places to hike or bike.
3400 Brushy Creek Rd., Cedar Park
Trail map: http://www.wilco.org/Portals/0/MapSide3.pdf
This trail is 6.75 miles long and is nice because you can play at the park/splash pad before or after. The trail meanders along Brushy Creek from east of Great Oaks Drive, west to US 183 in Cedar Park. The parks that lie along the trail provide many different amenities accessible to walkers, runners and bikers. Together, the parks have a collaboration of splash pads, swimming areas, climbing rocks, fishing docks, canoeing and kayaking, restrooms and multiple picnic and pavilion areas.
5808 McKinney Falls Park, Austin
Hike or bike nearly nine miles of trails. The 2.8-mile Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail has a hard surface, good for strollers and road bikes. Take the Rock Shelter Trail (only for hikers) to see where early visitors camped.
800 W. Riverside Dr., Austin
The Boardwalk can be accessed at several points – the northeast corner of the American-Statesman parking lot, off the Riverside Drive sidewalk at Blunn Creek, from the northeast corner of the Riverside and IH35 intersection and at International Shores Park, 1820 S. Lakeshore Blvd.
Many people start at the pedestrian bridge near Austin High, where there is a parking lot. The trail can be crowded, so you need to make sure kids and bikes stay in a single file line in spots. The Boardwalk can be less crowded, and you can also park near Festival Beach (if there are events in the area, parking may be tied up).
Pease Park access: 1100 Kingsbury St., Austin
There are 6.82 total miles and plenty of good shade from canopies of old oak trees on this centrally-located trail. Built in the early 1960s, the trail is the city’s oldest and its surface varies from concrete to crushed gravel and compacted dirt. Along the way, the trail passes through Pease Park (cool down at the splash pad!) and Duncan Park, offering natural beauty and abundant recreational opportunities. A highlight of the journey is passage through a small rocky canyon near the trail’s northern end.
Southern Walnut Creek Trail
5200 Bolm Rd., Austin
Encompassing more than 7.3 miles of multi-use trail running by trees, flatland, soft hills and water, Southern Walnut Creek Trail consists of 10-foot wide concrete paths designed to accommodate a variety of users. This beautiful nature-filled trail extends from Govalle Park to the Walnut Creek Sports Park at Johnny Morris Road and Daffan Lane and includes 5 bridges, culverts, signs and benches offering a breath-taking view at every turn.
The trailheads are located at Johnny Morris Road and Govalle Park.
Veloway (biking only)
4900 La Cross Ave., Austin
This 23’ wide, 3.1 miles (5K) long bicycle tract traverses natural terrain and is strictly for bikes and inline skates. Foot traffic is prohibited.
Read more about the Veloway here.
There are only two official parking lots dedicated for trail users:
The Violet Crown Trail began as a vision in 1999 to create the first regional trail system in Central Texas. After years of strategic land acquisition and planning, the first six-mile segment is now open and the VCT is on its way to becoming the longest trail of its kind in Central Texas.
Once complete, the 30-mile trail will provide a unique recreational experience as it passes through the urban wildlands of the Barton Creek Wilderness Park, the City of Sunset Valley, and eventually into Hays County. Note: Some portions of the trail are recommended for experienced mountain bikers only due to uneven and rocky surface, steep slopes, and numerous dry creek crossings which could periodically be flooded.
Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park Trails
12138 N Lamar Blvd., Austin
This popular north Austin park has an off-leash dog area, 5.32 miles of trails for mountain biking, trails, a playground, picnic tables, a swimming pool and more. Map:http://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Parks/parks/walnutcreektrail_closings.pdf