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Best Spots in Austin for Hiking and Biking

August 6, 2019

Whether you’re planning your move to the Live Music Capital of the World or you’re already a veteran Austinite, you know that our city is renowned for its beloved greenery and outdoor spaces. If you’re looking to take in the beauty of Austin nature (or just squeeze in some quick cardio after work), Austin is sprinkled with plenty of trails where you can run, walk, hike, or bike — without even traveling outside the city limits. It wasn’t easy to narrow it down, but we’ve done our best with these top Austin spots for hiking and biking in Mother Nature.

Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail

The most centrally located trail — and most favorite, for many Austinites — is the one that winds around Lady Bird Lake. Why? If you’re already working downtown, it’s easy to get to before heading on your commute home. And because it’s centrally located, you can easily get in a long hike or bike on a weekend afternoon before starting your night on the town. 

The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail is a popular one, so if you’re looking for a private jaunt, this might not be your top choice. But it feels alive with the energy of the city, from stroller moms and avid exercisers to leisurely hikers and excited dogs playing in the water. The path switches from dirt and gravel to a smooth boardwalk on the east side, making it perfect terrain for hikers and bikers. While the entire loop is 10 miles long, it has various access points so you can hop on or off anytime.

River Place Nature Trail

Ready for a real workout? Whether you’re jogging or biking, you’ll get the sweat you’re craving in this five- to six-mile trail system located between neighborhoods just a few miles east of Lake Austin. Famous for its stretches of stairs, inclines, and rocky terrain, the River Place Nature Trail is rated as moderately difficult, so it might be a challenge for leisurely family walks. Accessible year round, this trail just narrowly survived closure a few years ago and now charges a $10 weekend entrance fee, but you can still get your fill of fresh air and scenic views for free during the week. Dogs on leash are allowed, and they even might come in handy to help keep you motivated on those steep inclines. 

Barton Creek Greenbelt

Even if you’ve lived in Austin for years, you might still find yourself confused by the exact location or boundary lines of “the Greenbelt.” It’s no wonder, though, because although there are multiple greenbelts in Austin, most people use the term to refer to the Barton Creek Greenbelt, one of Austin’s most beloved nature gems. This seven-mile stretch of greenery runs through South Central Austin and, despite its central location, feels like miles away from the city. And with various access points, you can choose your own adventure each time. 

The entry near Zilker Park is a great start for newbies looking for a leisurely trail. On hot summer days, the limestone bluffs along Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls are a not-so-secret gem — especially when the creek is filled enough to jump in and cool off. 

Emma Long Metropolitan Park

Tucked up against the shore of Lake Austin, Emma Long Metropolitan Park is, naturally, a favorite for swimming and boating. That’s why many Austinites don’t realize they’re missing out on a fantastic trail experience just steps away. At just three miles long, this hike is short, but it’s not exactly easy. With varied and rugged terrain, this is the perfect spot for mountain biking and a hike that’s more exercise than leisure. Be prepared to pay an entrance fee, though. It’ll cost your $5 Mondays through Thursdays and $10 on Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays.

Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve

If you’re looking for some wildlife on your hike or bike, bring your binoculars or camera because you’ll see it at the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve. Hidden just along the Capital of Texas Highway, this 227-acre preserve boasts endless space for exploring, with a 2.5-mile trail that’s a moderately easy climb. From the creek and waterfall to the basin overlook, you’ll probably be stopping quite a bit to take in the picturesque views. And make sure to keep your eyes open for the two species of endangered bird who make their homes here — the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo.

Not only are these Austin hike-and-bike spots incredibly beautiful, they’re also located in neighborhoods that are considered to be the best places to live in Austin. If you’re in the market for a new home, why not choose to be close to the year-round majestic beauty of these places? We’d love to partner with you in building the custom home you’ve been dreaming of. Contact us today!