A perfect "get to know Austin" day hike for anyone who wants an easy tour of the great scenery, swimming holes, water activities, and outdoor green spaces that give downtown Austin its unique personality.
This hike has tons of 'postcard-worthy' photo ops. It's a perfect way to give visiting family and friends an up close way to see many of the popular outdoor spaces Austin is known for.
Bring sun block. Start early. Suggest you bring some cash if you think you might eat at the food trucks by Zilker Park. If you plan on taking a swim at Barton Springs
on the river side, bring water shoes!
This day hike starts just a block or so from the local REI store in downtown Austin at the Deep Roots Garden. You'll start off at the Deep Roots Garden entrance to the Shoal Creek Trail
. Follow the Shoal Creek Trail
towards the Colorado River making your way on the path as it winds through the cityscape. This is an easy path, and you'll have plenty of places to hop off and explore local eateries and sites if you want!
Once you get to the Colorado River section of the hike, you'll be following the Lady Bird Lake
Trail toward the Mopac highway bridge (Mopac = Missouri Pacific). The bridge takes you across the river under the shade of the highway above. The bridge itself is a bit of a tourist attraction as you'll have gorgeous views up and down the river as you pass over.
Once on the other side of the river, you continue on the Lady Bird Lake
Trail with the river to your left and Zilker Park to your right. The trail will take you around to the Baton Springs inlet where you can stop and spend some time at the springs if you want. In the summer, this is THE spot to go swimming and hang out. If you go inside the paid area of the springs (3 dollars) you'll have some nice grass hills to hang out on. If you stay on the river side of the springs (free) there are plenty of places to plop down your stuff and jump in the water. This is a VERY dog friendly area...and known for being very 420 friendly. People are very respectful and polite, and it is no issue for families (we go all the time with our kids and it is always a blast!).
On the return leg of the hike, you'll pass back over the Colorado River on the Lamar street walking bridge. This is another great photo op. Then you'll be heading back on the Shoal Creek Trail
again towards your starting point at Deep Roots Garden.