There’s not much better a feeling for a runner to get in a great run out in nature. Running trails can be a great way to mix up your training and keep things interesting, and for some runners, it’s the only way they’ll go for a jog.
Luckily, Austin Texas has a huge running community and no shortage of great running trails around town for all to enjoy. Below, we’ve listed our top 5, given difficulty levels and maps to help you plan your next trail run.
Just remember, as you keep your eyes on the ground to avoid a mis-step or ankle sprain, don’t forget to check for low hanging branches too!
1.Baton Creek Greenbelt
This classic 7.5 mile trail takes you through an expansive trail system just minutes away from downtown Austin. The trail begins at Barton Springs near downtown and ends up at the Hill of Life. There are some nice elevation changes as you near the finish with a 250 ft climb over the last ½ mile.
This is a great trail run to really challenge the runner who wants a great way to start off their weekend. If the weather is warm feel free to jump into the creek if it is flowing. It is a great way to cool off and refresh you.
2. Bull Creek Greenbelt
A 2.9 mile trail that is less traveled than the Barton Creek Greenbelt trail. Don’t let that keep you away. This trail is less traveled but allows you to get shorter run with less elevation gain if that is your muse.
This would be a great run to bring the dog with you and do a little swimming along the way. Just be careful as the trail can be a bit rocky at times.
3. Slaughter Creek Trail
Head to southwest Austin near Circle C and you will find a great 5 mile loop trail that offers more of a country feel with some slight elevation changes. A popular locale for mountain bikers, this trail offers a nice run for trail runners looking to get a great workout.
Something to keep in mind: dogs are not allowed here so this would be a great place to focus on your solo runs and do some great speedwork due to little elevation changes. Imagine yourself running in the country just minutes away from downtown Austin. And you aren’t too far from grabbing some great BBQ at the Salt Lick just a few miles away in Driftwood.
4. Walnut Creek Trail
This 1.3 mile loop allows for some fast running due to the flatness of the trail. Bring the dog out for a nice easy run and enjoy. Be mindful, this trail can get pretty busy at times so be sure to get out there early to get a couple of loops in.
This would be a great trail for those looking to run in a wooded area. It provides a nice canopy of trees for those hot summer runs.
5. Hill of Life
This is a great area of the greenbelt to run if you are training for a course that has a fair amount of elevation changes. This rocky climb provides 300 feet of elevation gain in just over ⅓ of a mile. Hill repeats are for sure to prep for whatever trail or road run that has some challenging climbs.
What better way to start off your day than getting out on the Hill of Life to get your heart rate up and challenge yourself on some rocky terrain. This run will for sure challenge you in ways that you haven’t been challenged before. A great getaway just minutes from downtown.
Ben Shook PT, DPT, COMT, CIDN