By: Unnu Shukla
It’s no secret that Austin is full of fitness junkies. On any given weekend morning, one can see runners and bicyclists cruising down roads, trails, and sidewalks, fitting in their Saturday workouts before heading to the abundance of farmer’s markets we have downtown. Austin, TX was ranked on the top 10 fittest cities in America, and is the 7th best city for runners, according to Forbes Magazine.
Here’s a look at some of the most enjoyable places to run in Austin, from the popular, well-trodden, to the hidden gems:
1. Lady bird lake hike and bike trail
Every Austinite’s go-to place, and it's suited for all types of runners. For beginners, the 3.2-mile loop from the South First Bridge down to the Mopac Bridge is the best. The trail also offers 7 and 10 miles loops for the more well-seasoned among us.
2. Shoal Creek Hike and Bike Trail
Although not as well maintained as Lady Bird Lake (aka be wary of rolling your ankle here), the Shoal Creek Hike and Bike Trail is a great three-mile track in Central Austin. I recommend picking up the trail from the Lady Bird Lake Hike & Bike between Cesar Chavez and Lamar Blvd for a great six-mile round trip.
3. Congress Avenue and Travis Heights
Running down Congress Avenue right before sunset is one of the most beautiful Austin cityscape experiences. There are lights that line the trees year round, and running down Congress Bridge provides more offshoot options: you can continue on into SoCo, or Travis Heights, where residential running meets hills: steady running, no interruptions. My personal favorite.
4. McKinney Falls State Park
The McKinney Falls State Park is a beautiful, historic scenic area in Southeast Austin.
During the right season, jogging past waterfalls makes your run *that* much more bearable. Both running trails, the Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail, and the Homestead Trail provide several miles of hilly terrain. There is an entrance fee of $6, but it’s definitely worth going at least once!
5. Barton Creek Greenbelt
The unique thing about the green belt is that there are so many options of how to run it, and there’s always some new route to explore. Bonus points: it’s dog friendly, and there are so many other activities to do in the area - whether it is people watching, cooling off with a swim, or picnicking in the area.
With a plethora of options, it’s time to start running!