Austin is very much a dog-loving town, but not all of the city’s parks and nature trails allow off-leash walks with your four-legged friends. In fact, most parks and nature trails in Austin require dogs to be on their leash constantly, which makes it difficult for them to run, swim, and explore to their heart’s content.

Off-leash parks are Austin’s a solution for active dog owners, but many of these designated spaces are too small for larger animals to really let loose, and they are usually devoid of natural enrichment like streams and tall grasses. What’s more, these areas are spread sparsely throughout the city. Plus, they can be hard to locate online for lack of official websites.

For all of these reasons, we decided to fix that problem. Here are six Austin parks with nature trails where your dog is free to unwind without a leash…

Red Bud Isle

A dog at Red Bud. Photo: Flickr user wablair, creative commons licensed.

A dog at Red Bud Isle. Photo: Flickr user wablair, CC licensed.

One of Austin’s favorite off-leash dog parks, Red Bud Isle is 13 acres of natural wonderfulness, reserved just for showing your dog a good time. Bring a tennis ball and play fetch in Lady Bird Lake or hike around the island’s half-mile nature trail while your dog explores the bushy woods nearby. Red Bud Isle presents plenty of opportunities to socialize your dog, since it tends to be quite popular, especially in the mornings and evenings when temperatures are cooler. As a word of caution, some folks have reported instances of smaller dogs getting caught in the river’s mild current after swimming out too far, so keep an eye on your furry friend in the water.

3401 Redbud Trail. 512-974-6700. Open daily 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Free. Website.

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