Austin is a magical city, and not just because we believe in breakfast tacos and mimosas for breakfast. The other kind of magic lies in the abundance of beautiful walking trails and destinations you can find in just about every corner of the city.
From rugged, rocky trails to exciting strolls down the famous city streets, you’re just about guaranteed to enjoy your path of choice. Because one thing’s for certain: Austin does walks, and we do em’ well.
Another Austin staple is the Hike and Bike Trail, which boasts 10 miles of winding trails along Lady Bird Lake. This is the spot you’ll most likely hear seasoned Austinites talk about. It’s basically one big giant running club meetup… and we totally dig it. Walking Lady Bird Lake is a serious treat — every mile has something new to offer. Overlook beautiful downtown views at the Pedestrian Crossing Bridge, snap a selfie at the Stevie Ray Vaughan memorial at Auditorium Shores, opt for a paddleboard rental along the newly paved Boardwalk, and be sure to run the dam on the East Side. Whichever path you choose, you’ll no doubt see a friendly face and tons of wagging tails along the way.
McKinney Falls is southeast Austin’s little gem of a state park. What can you expect? A lot of cool things. First off, the beauty that is Onion Creek. After it rains (which, contrary to popular belief, happens a lot), the creek fills with mini waterfalls over limestone ledges. It’s quite the sight. Take a dip, bring your fishing poles, or just walk it out. And with nearly nine miles of trails in the park, you’re guaranteed a good time. For instance, the Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail is a 2.8-mile loop with a hard surface, ideal for strollers and bikes too. Or if you’re feeling more adventurous, walk the rocky and secluded Flint Rock Loop Trail. It heads deeper into the woods and brings you to the Williamson Creek Overlook Trail. Fitt Tip: you should really camp out. This state park has over 80 campsites, so pitch a tent, wake up early, and explore a new trail the following day!
For a more iconic Austin walk, head on out to Mount Bonnell in the western part of our city. At 785 feet tall, Mount Bonnell is the highest point in Austin. It’s the place to go when you’re looking for a less strenuous, more scenic route. Climb 106 steps to the hilltop park that overlooks Lake Austin and all the beautiful homes that are perched alongside it. It’s darn beautiful, so make sure to bring your camera.
There are two Walnut Creek trails: the Southern and Northern parts. Both are notable. The Southern Walnut Creek Trail starts at Govalle Park in east Austin. With beautifully paved 10-foot wide concrete paths, this trail is perfect for all types of recreational activities. And it’s perfect for the nature enthusiast — you’ll find lots of trailheads and creek crossings, so be sure to pack a swimsuit for a quick dip.
Meanwhile, the Northern Walnut Creek Trail is more of a recent addition to the Austin walking scene. The first section of this trail starts at Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park with tons of creek crossings and picture-worthy nature scenes much like the southern trail. You can’t really go wrong at either, so pick your poison.
We can’t really talk walks in Austin without referring to the greenbelt first and foremost. It’s a pretty darn cool eight-mile long trail that weaves all throughout the city. Seriously, there are more entrances than we can count. And each stretch of the greenbelt has something more exciting and unique than the next. We’re talking swimming holes, rock climbing, hiking, biking, and tons of cute pups to pet along the way. It’s a well-known biking trail to the A+ cyclists and can get very daring at parts. Notable entrances include: Twin and Sculpture Falls, Gus Fruh, and Barton Springs Pool.
Shoal Creek holds a special place in our hearts because it’s the oldest trail in the city. Make no mistake — old doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. Shoal Creek Trail is kinda awesome. The trail itself extends from 38th street to Town Lake switching from a wide, paved path to decomposed granite. It’s pretty much perfectly shaded with old oak trees. Walk a bit, then stop to rest at the various parks along the trail, like Pease Park. And towards the north end of the trail, you’ll find awesome rocky canyons that are def picture-worthy.
While this isn’t necessarily a walking ‘trail’, Austin’s iconic South Congress street is still one of our favorite places to take a stroll. It’s the perfect place to feel like a tourist in your own city. So go ahead — stop and take a picture at the “I love you so much” sign; grab a coffee from Joe’s; explore all the street art and markets. You get the point. Before you know it, you’ll have hit you step goal… in the most fun way possible.