Austin’s Town Lake (aka Lady Bird Lake) Trail

In honor of my friend’s new blog, runningroutesreviewed.wordpress.com/, or rurore.com for short, here’s a brief, illustrated review of Austin, Texas’s Town Lake Trail, also known as Lady Bird Lake Trail, also known as the Roy and Ann Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail (Austin loves multiple names for things). It’s a 10-mile, mostly flat, mostly cinder path that loops around the lake/river that bisects Austin.

 
There are multiple access points to the trail and multiple bridges that cross over the lake, so you can tailor a loop to suit your distance needs, but I went for one full loop, plus I got lost when I headed off on Barton Creek Trail instead of staying on Town Lake trail, so I did a total of 14 miles.
 

Note – if everyone is turning in one direction, and you don’t know where you are exactly, you should probably also go in that direction instead of heading off into the woods. On the plus side, I got to see Barton Springs and added in the extra miles I wanted. On the minus side I ran through more gross spiderwebs/tree worm webs than I could count, and I was also scared I was running through poison ivy (several signs said it’s present along both trails), so it was a bit of tense running experience. But I also got to feel a million miles away from the city, even though I was less than 4 miles from my downtown hotel at that point.
 

Let the photo journey begin! Note that I started downtown on the north side and ran counterclockwise, but runners and bikers were going in both directions and I don’t think there was a right or wrong way.
 

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This is near where I started downtown – one of the many cute bridges you cross on this trail. Notice the construction crane in the background – Austin is booming!

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Most of the path is cinder but there are some concrete sidewalks like this.

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Some pretty landscaping under a footbridge crossing the lake.

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Some super cool bathrooms along the trail. There were multiple bathrooms along the 10 miles but these were by far the coolest.

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Some nice cactus along the cinder trail. This is still on the north side.

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The western “end” of the trail as it loops under MoPac Highway (aka Loop 1). The footbridge connects the north and south sides.

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Looking back at the city from under the highway. It looks so far away but it’s only actually a mile or two from here.

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One of the many water fountains along the trail. In the background is Zilker Park’s huge lawn which hosts the Austin City Limits Festival.

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A cute mini railroad. Don’t mind me…

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This is the point I got lost – I turned right while everyone else turned left.

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If you see this cool spot you are not on the Town Lake Trail.

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Barton Springs! It’s a quarter-mile long natural spring-fed pool that’s 68 degrees year-round. I thought I’d loop back onto Town Lake trail at this point but instead I went further along Barton Spring Trail and into Barton Hills.

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This is not Town Lake Trail.

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Unfortunately neither is this. (BTW the wildflowers are in a riot around Austin right now. Just beautiful.)

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Nor is this. After running through the umpteenth spiderweb I checked my phone for directions and backtracked to Town Lake. Luckily I had already broken through all the webs so the way back wasn’t as panic-making. Also, you’re welcome whoever ran that trail today after me.

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Back on Town Lake Trail! Notice any differences between this and the spider trail above?

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Just south of Congress Street Bridge (the bat bridge) the trail turns into a concrete boardwalk, which is pretty but wasn’t my favorite to run along.

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The eastern “end” of the trail, where you cross the spillway bridge.

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Looking back at the spillway bridge.

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My spirit animals for the day. I was soooo slow even with the helpful overcast day. I barely managed 14 miles and my knees were hurting by the end, so this will have to do for my last long (and longest) training run before Wisconsin. Yipes!
 

Overall, I enjoyed the Town Lake Trail by any name. It reminded me of the loop in Central Park (no cars, no smoking allowed, lots of people and bikers, lots of water fountains and restrooms, customizable distances) but it was totally flat, so if you need to do hill work you have to look elsewhere. The biggest advantage over Central Park? This trail never has snow or ice!
 

Have you ever visited Austin? Have you ever run this trail? Have you subscribed to rurore.com yet? Share in the comments!

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