I originally wrote this article for the Hilltop Views.
If you like to walk, jog or run, you are in luck. Austin provides some of the best trails the nation has to offer. Longtime Austinites, new residents, and visitors have come to love the scenic, natural areas that have been dedicated for trail use in Austin. There are always new regional running trails being created for easy access.
In fact, Austin has—at last count—accumulated over 50 miles of trails used by runners. The natural greenbelt trails are all well-surfaced and accessible.
However, the Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake) trail loop remains the running social hub for Austinites.
“It’s a place I can go and enjoy the outdoors while I exercise. There are a lot of trails I can take, depending on what mood I’m in,” says St. Edward’s University Junior Kayanne Armer.
The original 10.1 mile Lady Bird Lake loop, which runs from east to west from MoPac to the Longhorn Dam, is a perfect escape from the Austin ado for everyone, from serious athletes to casual joggers.
The trail—which is mostly flat, rather wide and very popular—offers a variety of trails that fit different runners’ needs. The trails along Lady Bird Lake offer pictorial trails for those wanting a scenic run, or primitive trails in wooded areas for runners wanting a challenge.
St. Edward’s University Junior Jillian Tito is encouraged by the scenery out near Lady Bird Lake. “I like running out there because it’s really beautiful, and you’re easily motivated because of all the Austinites out there.”
After moving from bitterly cold Boston, Mass. to sunny Austin in the summer of 2007, Tito became an avid runner after discovering it made her feel good about herself.
“[Lady Bird Lake] has many different trails, so I can if I feel like running five miles one day, I can. Or 2 miles another [day], I can run that. It has beautiful scenery that just makes you feel good to be outside, and there are lots of people running, walking, swimming; it’s very encouraging.”
An added bonus is that the trails around Lady Bird Lake are pet and bike friendly. Austinites are encouraged to take a run with their four-legged friends, or hop on a bike to cruise the trails.
Previously known as Town Lake, the area was renamed in honor of Lady Bird Johnson on Aug. 6, 2007. Lady Bird was an instrumental figure in getting this area transformed from a drab flood zone to a recreational focal point for the city. Thus, it seems a fitting acknowledgement.
Austin also provides several organizations for varying levels of runners to help facilitate health and fitness. The Austin Runners Club is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization that has members of all ages and abilities. According to the organization’s site, The Austin Runners Club promotes and encourages running, walking, wheelchair racing, and related activities and educates the public to their benefits. The club also maintains competitive and non-competitive activities for its membership and for the general public.
When asked if she had any tips for beginning runners, Tito replied, “I would say to go at your own pace. Don’t try to compare yourself to other runners around you, set a goal and give it your all. It’ll only get easier.”
No matter what your pace is or what your personal goals are, running has proven itself to be one of the easiest, most convenient forms of exercise. Whether you want to run the Statesman Capitol 10K, or you just want to shed a few pounds, the trails along Lady Bird Lake can lead you down the path of health and happiness.
For a list of Lady Bird Lake trail maps, click here.
To learn more about The Austin Runners Club, click here.