Hiking Project Logo

Upper Barton Creek Greenbelt

  4.5 ( 13 ) Favorite


5.0 mile 8.1 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 299' 91 m
Descent: -299' -91 m
High: 851' 259 m
Low: 568' 173 m


Avg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 27% (15°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Donovan Acker

A great day hike to explore the swimming holes, falls, and sculptured rock areas of upper Barton Creek Greenbelt.

Donovan Acker

Features River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly Great for the energetic kids and families who don't mind a strenuous uphill/downhill at the beginning and end of the loop.


This is great day hike loop to explore the upper Barton Creek greenbelt area... and get a solid glute and leg burn going!

This hike starts off at the "Hill of Life" just off the crossing of Scottish Woods Trail road and Camp Craft road. If you have already done the downtown day hike around Lady Bird Lake Trail and the lower loop hike of the Barton Creek Greenbelt, then this challenging hike will round off the hat trick !

For families and casual hikers, Barton Creek Greenbelt’s Hill of Life Trail section of this hike is one of Austin’s great gifts for invigoration and time in nature. It’s tucked within junipers and oaks, and connects with a variety of paths leading to tranquil creekside spots.

The overall hike is well worth the effort as you'll be completely immersed in the best greenery and hiking the Austin area has to offer.

Need to Know

Take your time on the Hill of Life if you have not done it before. The big limestone steps can get the best of you if you don't take your time. Bring hydration. Trekking poles are a huge plus on this hike if you have them.


Once you park off of Scottish Woods Trail Road and Camp Craft Road, you'll see the trailhead right at the top of Camp Craft Road.

You'll immediately begin descending "The Hill of Life" section of the hike which covers three-hundred vertical feet in just over a third of a mile, and includes numerous obstacles, including loose rocks, limestone ledges and concrete erosion-block steps (up to a foot in height), plus plenty of roots and ruts.

Once you have descended to the creek area, the hike is pretty straightforward as it winds around toward Barton Creek Falls and the sculptured rocks area for a nice rest/swim if you wish.

This hike is definitely not for people who want a "lazy day" of hiking. Come ready for a workout and to enjoy working hard for your hiking experience.

Hiked this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

ADA Accessible, Flora & Fauna, History & Background


Rate This Featured Hike

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Check In


Sep 1, 2019
Pat Polley
Busy, great trail shaded. Due to the lack of rainfall, there was no water — 1h 34m
Jul 20, 2019
Shelley Shelor
Tried out Suki's new life vest — 12h 00m
Jul 1, 2019
Philip Stringer
Jun 21, 2019
Shelley Shelor
Hot day! 5mi — 12h 00m
Feb 16, 2019
Amanda E
Feb 16, 2019
Yussra Hamid
Crowded but easily accessible and relaxed trail to hike at. The water nearby is wonderful to walk next to and the trees provided great shade — 3h 00m
Feb 9, 2019
Molly Wagner
Dec 24, 2018
Matt Lynch

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 13 votes


in Austin


  4.5 from 13 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Featured Hike Rankings


in Austin


in Texas


96 Views Last Month
1,974 Since Sep 6, 2017



View from Sculpture Falls (wintertime). Barton creek is known for its beautiful blue-green water.
Jan 3, 2018 near Rolling…, TX
So much fun exploring Barton Creek!
Aug 28, 2017 near Rolling…, TX
Barton Creek is lots of fun. Keep a good eye on your dogs and kids when playing the little waterfalls :)
Aug 28, 2017 near Rolling…, TX
Can't beat Barton Creek for splashing around on a warm day ! It is always better on the weekdays.
Aug 28, 2017 near Rolling…, TX
This is cool sculptured rocks area where the water flows over just before going down the waterfalls in the background.
Aug 28, 2017 near Rolling…, TX
1....2....3.... JUMP ! It's only about 10 feet deep (at this water level) and just a few stokes to get back to shallows.
Aug 28, 2017 near Rolling…, TX


Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking