Everything you need to know about Austin’s Hike and Bike Trail
It honestly had never occurred to me to write about the trail. It is so central to town and such a big part of everyday life, I never really thought it needed explanation. But not only did I realize it’s benefits aren’t obvious to people who don’t live here, but I realized I didn’t know everything about it either. So let’s get to it. (and here is a map if that is all you wanted)
Over 2.6 million people visit the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake every year. It now includes the Boardwalk Trail on the southern part, to make sure you can complete the loop. It could be thought of as a mini tour of Austin since you will hit many hot spots, like Zilker Park, Barton Springs, Stevie Ray Vaughn, views of downtown, and the bats.
Is the Hike and Bike Trail open?
The Boardwalk is open from 5 a.m. to midnight every day, with a curfew between midnight and 5 a.m.
How long is the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail?
Lady Bird Lake Trail is a 10 mile loop trail if you go through the entire length. That includes the 1.3 mile long Boardwalk trail. There are a lot of places to get on and off the trail so it is very easy to make it shorter if you’d like.
Where can you park to get on the trail?
There are lots and lots of places to park to get on the trail if you have to drive there. There is free parking along South Lakeshore Boulevard between Pleasant Valley and Riverside. You can also park at Festival Beach on the other side of the river. Any place within a couple blocks of the river downtown is also fine. Anywhere you might park if you were going to Auditorium Shores works. Anywhere you might park to see the bats also works. Like I said, the trail is like a mini-tour of Austin so many places in Austin are a fine place to park to get on it.
Hike and Bike Trail Safety
The trail is generally safe. There have been violent attacks, but they are rare and have almost all been in the morning when they trail is near deserted.
Now when the trail is full, there is a more likely set of concerns. When you have runners, walkers, and cyclists (scooters are not allowed on the trails) all in the same place collisions can happen. Etiquette (don’t walk more than 2 abreast, bikes stay under 10 mph) and situational awareness (don’t let headphones block out all noise; keep your head out of your cellphone) and you should be have no problem staying healthy on the trail.
What about bathrooms?
On the north side, bathrooms are spaced around pretty regularly. It’s also pretty easy to escape back to society if you really need to. Bathrooms are rarer on the south side, with the exception of the area near Auditorium Shores. If bathroom access is a big concern, definitely be careful on the boardwalk portion on the south side. It’s harder to get back to ‘civilization’ on many parts of the boardwalk.
What is the pet situation?
Despite what you may see, pets are required to be leashed at all parts of the trail. Even when the trail passes the leash-free area at Auditorium Shores. Scoop the poop. Tying it in a bag and leaving it there isn’t cool. If you are thinking about letting your pet swim, be sure and check the algae levels. It can be lethal to dogs.
What are the belts on the Boardwalk? – These are part of public art installation called Belting It Out, by artist Ken Little. The lyrics on each belt are from well-known Texas singers and songwriters?
Is fishing allowed? – It’s allowed as long as you can peel off the main part of the trail.