Despite our rapid growth — and thanks to generous nature-lovers like Andrew Zilker and J. E. “Pete” Smith — we have refused to sacrifice the iconic Austin park on the altars of metropolitan progress. For locals and visitors alike who are looking to breathe fresh air and walk off some of that nine-to-five stress, an Austin park with a beautiful nature trail is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Some are paved and easy, while others are much more rugged and challenging. Each is loved and appreciated, particularly by their neighbors, but we have some strong opinions about which ones are best.

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Seriously, any Austin park is readily accessible, but with a carefully chosen Austin park from this list you’ll feel like you’re being bear hugged by Mother Nature herself, and it only takes a few minutes to access each. If you’re feeling stressed out, anxious, or just need to burn off some energy, this is where you need to be.

1. Our Favorite Austin Park Trail By Far Is Barton Creek Greenbelt

Austin park

A section of the Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail. Photo: Flickr user Brandon Turner, CC licensed

The first and most obvious trail network on our list of amazing hiking trails in Austin is the Barton Creek Greenbelt system. Boasting nearly eight miles of crushed gravel and dirt trails along its main trail, the Barton Creek Greenbelt network stretches from the Zilker Hillside Theater‘s and Barton Springs Pool‘s parking lot out west and under Mopac and Loop 360 to the Hill of Life* on Camp Craft Rd. There are also a number of non-loop side trails included in the trail network, some of which lead to beloved swimming holes, such as Twin and Sculpture Falls and Gus Fruh, and rock climbing walls. The greenbelt welcomes cyclists and leashed dogs as well as hikers, so brush up on your trail etiquette before you go!

* Expert Tip: Don’t attempt to mountain bike Hill of Life unless you know what you’re doing.

512-477-1566. Open daily sunrise to sunset. Free. Bikes, dogs on leash OK. Main Trail Overview Map. Detailed Trail System Map.



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