Explore the Beaten Path: Top 7 Running Trails in Austin, Every Outdoor Enthusiast’s Dream

Welcome to Austin, the heart and soul of Texas! Renowned for its barbecue, vibrant arts scene, and live music, the city also offers a side often overlooked: a thriving running scene. From local joggers to trail enthusiasts, the city caters to all, making it an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. So, lace up your running shoes and join me as we discover the top 7 running trails in Austin, every runner’s guide to exploring the city.

1. Lady Bird Lake Hike-and-Bike Trail

Hit the Heart of Austin

Sprawled within the urban fabric of Austin, the Lady Bird Lake Hike-and-Bike Trail is often considered the city’s cardio center. This 10-mile running loop encapsulates the essence of Austin, offering a slice of vibrant city life and encounters with its diverse population.

  • Runners’ Delight: The trail provides a flat, well-maintained path, paved with crushed granite, ideal for a relaxed jog or an intense sprint. Its proximity to the city, coupled with the scenic views of Lady Bird Lake and the surrounding greenery, makes it an all-time favorite among locals and visitors.

  • Austin’s Skyline: As you run along the trail, savor the sight of towering skyscrapers peeking from behind the trees, imparting a unique blend of urban and natural charm.

  • Art and Music: Strive for a chance encounter with stunning murals and engaging sculptures dotting the trail. Not to mention, get serenaded by harmonious tunes seeping from Butler Park Pitch & Putt, infusing your run with rhythm and energy.

  • Dog Park: Have pets? The Auditorium Shores off-leash dog park along the trail is the perfect place to enjoy a wholesome run, followed by playtime with your paw friend.

  • Practicality: The trail is designed conveniently, featuring multiple access points, restrooms, and water fountains. It ensures a satisfying run that doesn’t compromise on comfort.

2. Barton Creek Greenbelt

Unleash Your Wild Side in Austin’s Natural Playground

The Barton Creek Greenbelt is a testament to Austin’s raw, wild spirit. With a trail over 12 miles long and varied landscapes, your run is transformed into a full-on adventure with nature.

  • Taste of Adventure: Discover a labyrinth of trails, limestone cliffs, lush forests, and cool streams, transforming a routine run into an exciting journey into the wilderness. The change in terrain also challenges your body, making each run a new workout.

  • Swim Breaks: After a rigorous run, unwind with a swim at the accessible Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls, offering a refreshing break during a hot summer day.

  • Climbing Spots: The trail also hosts promising climbing spots, giving you an opportunity to diversify your workout routine with an adrenaline-packed climb.

3. Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park

Meet Nature in the Heart of Austin

Nestled in Austin’s heart, Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park is a runner’s sanctuary. Boasting 15 miles of intertwining trails and delightful scenery, this park allows you to connect with nature within the city’s boundaries.

  • Tailored to You: Whether you’re a fan of a smooth run over flat terrains or love the challenge of steep inclines, the Walnut Creek trail accommodates every fitness level.

  • Amenities: The well-appointed trail features restrooms, picnic areas, and sports courts. After a strenuous run, you can unwind with a meal amid greenery, or indulge in a friendly match in the sports courts.

  • Off-leash Dog Park: Enhance your workout with your canine companion, courtesy of the park’s off-leash dog area. It’s an excellent spot to combine fitness sessions with quality time with your fury buddy.

4. Mount Bonnell

Scale Austin’s Highest Point

Though less than a mile in length, the trail to Mount Bonnell is intense. A staircase ascends the hill, making for a strenuous yet rewarding climb for runners.

  • Workout With A View+: While the climb may be challenging, the reward is a stunning panoramic view of Austin cityscape and the Colorado River at the summit—perfect motivation to fuel your ascent.

  • Sunset Spectacle: Plan your run around sunset to capture the Austin sky bathed in stunning shades of red and orange, creating a truly mesmerizing spectacle.

  • Ascend at Your Pace: The trail caters to all age groups and fitness levels. Take your time, set your pace, and remember that it’s more about the journey than the destination.

5. Brushy Creek Regional Trail

Experience Austin’s Rural Charm to the Fullest

The Brushy Creek Regional Trail is a magnificent 7-mile route, combining peaceful neighborhoods with lush green landscapes. It’s an ideal track for runners wanting to explore Austin’s rural charm.

  • Unexpected Excursions: The trail offers an array of potential detours through various parks, recreational areas, and a splash pad—creating a delightful, varied running experience.

  • Wild Watch: Keep your senses alert for encounters with wildlife. From deer and rabbits to diverse bird species, every run feels like a miniature safari.

  • Choice of Terrains: The trail offers a choice between well-trodden concrete paths and off-road dirt tracks. Runners can switch up their workouts based on preference and training needs.

6. River Place Nature Trail

Experience a Runner’s Paradise Across Streams and Hills

River Place Nature Trail doesn’t hold back when it comes to intensity. This challenging trail is a paradise for runners seeking to push their endurance and strength boundaries.

  • Intensity: Comprising steep stairs and testing hill inclines, this trail is equivalent to a boot camp. It demands not just running stamina but also overall body strength, making it ideal for serious fitness enthusiasts.

  • Natural Beauty: Find your pace among cascading streams, colorful wildflowers, and dense woods. The beauty of the surroundings offers a soothing visual treat, encouraging your fitness journey.

  • Wildlife: This trail is home to a diverse spectrum of local wildlife, playing host to a symphony of bird calls, buzzing insects, and rustling leaves. Every run here is a testament to Austin’s vibrant biodiversity.

7. Circle C Ranch Metropolitan Park on Slaughter Creek

Escape to Austin’s Extravagant Nature

Circle C Ranch Metropolitan Park is a 5-mile loop trail that offers a serene run within Austin city limits. Situated on Slaughter Creek, this trail is a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.

  • Wild Observations: The park serves as a wildlife habitat, hosting various animal species ranging from deer to majestic eagles. Each run can turn into an unexpected wildlife spotting adventure.

  • Training Ground: The park’s broad, flat trails are fantastic for marathon training, facilitating runners in maintaining high mileage weeks with ease.

  • Wheelchair Accessible: Marking inclusivity, the trail is wheelchair-accessible, enabling all athletes to relish in the tranquillity of Austin’s picturesque landscapes.

From marathoning flatlands to challenging hills and swift stairs, Austin’s top 7 running trails have something to offer every runner. Regardless of your running preference—whether you relish the electric energy of the city or love the serenity of nature—these trails will allow you to run at your pace and dive deep into Austin’s unique allure.

As you tie up your laces and venture out on these trails, remember that every step is an opportunity to discover the hidden wonders of Austin. It could be a musical note hovering from a distant backyard, the aromas of tantalizing food from a nearby food truck, or simply a golden shaft of sunlight piercing through a canopy of leaves. A sensory overload awaits you with every stride—a genuine exploration of Austin’s best running trails. So, are you ready to embark on this extraordinary running journey with me?

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

Receive the latest news

Get the Inside Scoop!

Austin’s latest events and eats, straight to your inbox. Subscribe now!