Running Trails In Austin

You could easily call Austin an ‘active city’, from its biking routes to parks you can spend all day in. There are so many running trails and tracks simply begging to be tried that you may wonder where to start. 

Running Trails In Austin

Indoor training can be so tedious and Austin has some stunning sights to see and vast terrain to explore. For experienced runners or absolute beginners, lace up your running shoes and start with some of the renowned trails that the Texan capital has to offer. 

Lady Bird Lake Hike And Bike Trail

This trail goes by numerous names, officially it is known as the Ann and Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail. Then again, the locals commonly call it the Lady Bird Lake Running Trail or simply Town Lake Trail. 

Whatever the name, this is a ten-mile loop that tracks from West to East Austin as one of the oldest urban hike and bike paths in the entire state of Texas.

You can expect crushed granite underfoot though there is some sidewalk and even a boardwalk towards the south side.

Few routes are as tempting as the Lady Bird Lake Running Trail, particularly for the free parking at Auditorium Shores, Longhorn Dam, and underneath Mopac Boulevard.

There are also several water fountains and bathrooms dotted along the trail in case you need them. 

Possibly the best feature of the trail is how interchangeable it is as you can make your loops from three miles to the full ten depending on how far you want to go.

Shoal Creek Greenbelt Trail

If you wanted to run through part of the city then consider Shoal Creek Greenbelt Trail. This is more of a tricky route as you may have to steer wide of some rocks and roots in a linear park that goes for around three miles from downtown. 

You can start the trail on 15th Street at Pease Park at the southern end near a playground and parking lot. From there, try a gentle loop around Pease Park then go north and you should find Shoal Creek Trail marked up to 38th Street.  

Brushy Creek Regional Trail

For a slight drive out from the north of the city in Cedar Park lies the Brushy Creek Trail. A lightly shaded and paved trail amounting to 6.75 miles traverses parks and heads into residential areas. 

Brushy Creek Regional Trail

If you were looking for a route away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Austin then this is the place. It can feel a world away from the city as six parks connect to the trail and Brushy Creek itself runs parallel for a spot of nature while running. 

Barton Creek Greenbelt

Should you want ample choice of running trails to choose from then you can surely pick one from the 1,937 acres in Barton Creek Greenbelt.

You may already recognize the starting point for the main trail as it stems from Zilker Park which is where the renowned Austin City Limits Music Festival is held. 

This route is a tidy 7.9 miles yet you can head off into some of the paths and side trails that line it if you want an adventure. 

Take your time as there are limestone cliffs, waterfalls, and some dense foliage to navigate through, you may find yourself stopping to take a selfie.

You may also have to share the trail with some mountain bikers too so pay attention to the path once you hit Barton Creek, the trail is more forgiving. 

The time of year is also important as, during summer, the foliage can offer some shade though you may have to compromise with the humidity. 

For some elevation, find your way to the magnificently named Hill of Life trailhead which begins at Camp Craft Road. Alongside slopes, you may find some wet rock amidst water crossings so do be careful as it can be slippery. 

This is also one of the most central areas for running trails so you could even start in downtown Austin for a decent warm-up.

Do not forget your smartphone though as a lot of the trails fail to have any markings or maps so you may struggle to spot downtown Austin past the trees. 

Travis Heights Neighborhood

Austin is still a largely residential city and you may prefer running in some neighborhoods. One of the best to explore is Travis Heights Neighborhood as you can find several quiet streets but also some hills too. 

The neighborhood itself is reassuringly quiet so you should have the sidewalk to yourself for a lot of it.

Then again, you can go down Blunn Creek or even try the South Congress entertainment district for a change of scenery. 

Hyde Park Neighborhood (Alphabet Street)

Travis Heights Neighborhood is not the only area for residential running that Austin has to offer. For safe, residential running in central Austin you should try the Hyde Park Neighborhood. 

Hyde Park Neighborhood (Alphabet Street)

Start with Avenues named A to G that run parallel from 38th Street then go up to 51st though you can go further. Despite this area being centrally located, it can still be blissfully quiet. 

McKinney Falls State Park

For a $6 entrance fee, you may want to spend a few hours in McKinney Falls State Park. And why not when it is such a stunning area with so many running trails and season-dependent waterfalls.

While the park is known as Austin’s backyard, you could go camping, hiking, mountain biking, or bouldering though you could meet up with family and friends for a picnic too. 

You can even sample some history with ‘Old Baldy’ which is one of the oldest bald cypress trails still found on public land.

Whether it is miles of trails or a few hills, you can find them both in McKinney Falls State Park. Take your pick of the Homestead Trail or the Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail.

The latter is 2.8 miles of a hard surface which can prove a little unforgiving at times but is well worth exploring as long as your running shoes have ample cushioning. This is one location that has so much, you may find yourself coming back to take it all in.

Final Thoughts

For one city, Austin has so many running trails to try in so many varied locations. There are residential neighborhoods such as Travis Heights and Hyde Park if you prefer sidewalks and being close to downtown.

Further out there are the Greenbelts of Shoal Creek and Barton Creek. Then again, you may need a few hours to explore if you are training for a marathon or only have a day to spare on the weekend. 

With more room to explore and a few loops to try there are Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail and McKinney Falls State Park to get back to nature.

For such a vibrant city, you may find the trails a far cry from the busy downtown, and the act of running can provide some sweet relief. Choose wisely and you can easily find a few running trails in Austin.

Megan Rinzel
Latest posts by Megan Rinzel (see all)