Family-Friendly Hike + Bike Trails In Austin

One can never say enough about the planning behind Austin’s parks, trails and green space.  It truly is a one of a kind city that allows you to leave behind the hustle and bustle and find yourself on a lush, green trail within minutes.  Former Mayor Roy Butler, his wife Ann Butler, and Ladybird Johnson (wife of President Lyndon Johnson) had a vision back in the 70’s to create a divine space around downtown’s stretch of the Colorado River. 

And what innovators they were! 

But this isn’t the only astounding trail system in and around Austin (along with the connecting Barton Creek Greenbelt).  These local gems are worth exploring too:

HIKE or BIKE:

  • SHOAL CREEK (Central) – This shady and beautiful trail runs parallel to Lamar.  You can hop on at it’s newest trailhead-Austin Central Library.  From there, you meander North through Pease Park (splash pad) and Bailey Park (splash pad).
  • WALNUT CREEK NORTH (North) – Approximately 3 miles in length, this trail can be caught at Balcones Park (Pool + Playground) off Duval or from Walnut Creek Park (Pool + Playground)  just off Lamar and MoPac.
  • KATHERINE FLEISCHER  PARK/ MILLS POND (North) – A sweet trail that moseys through the Wells Branch area.  This trail has a wonderful playground (don’t forget your bug spray as the mosquitoes often love being here, too) and a beautiful pond with loads of wildlife.
  • MUELLER COMMUNITY (East) – This self-sustaining community has several playgrounds along the trail as well as food trucks if you get hungry.  No splash pads just yet, but Bartholomew Municipal Pool is just across 51st and it’s magical.  The trail is often crushed rock, so sometimes scootering can get tricky.
  • DICK NICHOLAS PARK (South) – Perfectly paved mile long loop around the municipal pool, mini splash pad and two playgrounds.  Great for scooting, biking, running or walking.
  • RATTAN CREEK (North) – This neighborhood offers up a bunch of mini trails, so it’s probably best for light strolling.  And as an added bonus, geocaching is available here too!

HIKE:

  • WILDFLOWER CENTER (South) – An easy breezy trail located inside the gates of Wildflower Center.  It costs a few bucks (unless you enter with another member), but the funds go to preserving and improving the beautiful grounds.  It’s money well spent.
  • CIRCLE C (South) – A little more than a mile in length, this trail is great for a Saturday hike with the family.  The playground where you can start/stop is picnic and kite-worthy.
  • SPRINGWOODS PARK (North) – .7 miles in length, it’s perfect for kids that are learning to scoot.  There are also amazing playgrounds on the premises for every age, and it’s shaded!  This park is located near Anderson Mill and Pond Springs.
  • EMMA LONG PARK (West) – This park is situated right on the Colorado River and it’s beautiful.  A beach for swimming and plenty of hiking trails, this is definitely worth checking out.  Bring your wallet, however, as the park requires an entrance fee.  And if you haven’t been to Ski Shores Cafe, it’s on your way back home.  Go.
  • COMMONS FORD RANCH PARK (West) – Beautiful park with loads of hiking trails.  Great camping spots too if you’re wanting a weekend adventure.
  • ST. EDWARDS PARK (North) – Be sure to bring a change of shoes and clothes because there is a lot of water around.  Super dog-friendly trail and lots of wonderful nature to take in.
  • McKINNEY FALLS (South) – Beautiful 2 mile loop around the Upper Falls.  You may want to bring your suit and take a dip in the falls as well if it’s warm outside.  Bring a few dollars to get in as it’s a State Park.
  • RIVERPLACE NATURE TRAIL (West) – Up. Up. Up.  This is a great hiking trail for those looking for a challenge.  Beautiful views if you make it to the top!
  • WILD BASIN WILDNESS PRESERVE (West) – Breathtaking views and lots of spots to stop and get a great family photo.  The nature center has a lot of informative information as well.

BIKE:

  • SCENIC DRIVE (Central) – Although it’s not an official trail, it’s not heavily traveled and it’s oh so beautiful.  The best place to park?  Mozart’s or Hula Hut so that you can enjoy a tubular taco or a nice latte post ride.
  • SOUTHERN WALNUT CREEK (East) – Love this little hidden gem.  It’s a secluded trail (for the most part), so be sure to bring along a friend or two.  Great for biking, as well as for rolling with a stroller.  Govalle Park (swimming pool) is one trailhead and Johnny Morris Road is the other.

Bonus trails just outside the city limits:

Now that it will (hopefully) start cooling off a bit, these trails will be a perfect weekend activity for the family! 

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