Austin Bike Trails
Austin bike trails are renown for their variety and their sheer number. While commuters and hobbyists can cut through downtown Austin’s vehicular gridlock using trails along Lady Bird Lake and Shoal Creek, serious mountain biking trails in Austin offer up challenging terrain and scenic escapes without trekking far from town.
The Violet Crown Trail runs from Zilker Park, to the Lady Bird Wildflower Center and will eventually wind all the way down to Onion Creek. The trail is the result of an ambitious partnership of over a dozen Austin organizations, foremost among them, the Hill Country Conservancy. Despite running through the heart of Austin city limits, the Violet Crown Trail offers beautiful views of Hill Country wildlife, interspersed with forays into public parks and neighborhoods. It’s the perfect bike trail to take in all of Austin.
As the Dixie Chicks famously sang, sometimes you just need wide open spaces to fully express yourself. If your chosen form of expression involves two wheels and a chain, then the Hill Country Conservancy’s “Vast Open Spaces” map has you covered. The map includes areas all over Austin and Central Texas where you can take your mountain bike off road and enjoy the Hill Country unfettered by trails or mile markers.
Sometimes you just want a leisurely bike ride through a beautiful city, which is just what the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail offers. The 10 mile hike and bike trail winds around Lady Bird Lake (more commonly known by its old name, Town Lake) and features views of the water, the city and fellow Austin exercise enthusiasts. The trail remained woefully incomplete until recently, but the recent addition of The Boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake completes the circuit and allows riders to make a loop from from one side of the city to the other.
Walnut Creek is one of the more popular Austin trails for mountain bikers, as it’s conveniently located and a little more technically challenging than other city trails. You may want to bring a map, as the sometimes confusing trails have been known to befuddle inexperienced riders. If you’re serious about biking in Austin, you must master Walnut Creek.
Barton Creek Greenbelt is possibly the most iconic of Austin bike trails. Located at the southern intersection of Mopac and 360, the Barton Creek Greenbelt is a South Austin gem. The seven mile bike trail features beautiful views of the creek and Central Texas wildlife, neatly sequestered in the city.
The Bull Creek Greenbelt is a true labor of love, as the trail is maintained entirely by volunteers. It’s one of the smaller popular bike trails in Austin, but the creek and West Austin setting are beautiful. After your ride, take a dip in the creek and enjoy the gentle falls.
This meandering Austin park abuts the equally lovely McKinney Falls State Park. It’s almost entirely off-leash, so watch out for dogs, but otherwise it’s a great place to get a few miles of bike riding in on the sprawling trails.
Emma Long Metro Park is a massive enclave on the Colorado River located a bit west of 360. With over nine miles of bike trails, it’s one of the city’s longest park trails. Be warned, there are parking and entry fees, but it’s worth it to explore one of the prettiest parks in Austin.
Sometimes you don’t want to deal with a bumpy ride. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a smooth biking surface, especially if you’ve got a hankering to experience some velocity. The Veloway is 3.1 miles of smooth asphalt with enough gradient changes to make it interesting.
Over six miles long, Brushy Creek Regional Trail is a bikers delight with a tight, twisty and technical trail system. However, the trail is not made for the faint of heart due to the sharp turns and switchbacks, so bike with caution!