Beginning a new running routine, preparing for a race, or simply bored with indoor cardio? Regardless of whether you’re a novice or experienced runner, Austin running trails are waiting for you. With temperate weather in our city for most of the year, these 10 trails provide variety in both mileage and terrain. Lace up those sneakers and get outdoors!
1/ Brushy Creek Regional Trail
Brushy Creek Regional Trail currently spans almost seven miles, with six parks connecting to the trail. It’s partially paved in some areas and easy to navigate.
With expansion underway, parts of the trail may be closed for construction. The eastern part of the Regional Trail will eventually connect to other trail systems and stretch all the way to Texas 130 once the project is complete! For now, I recommend parking at Twin Lakes Park and heading east. View the regional trail map here.
2300 S. Bell Blvd., Cedar Park, TX – Website
2/ Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park Trail System
Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park in north Austin is great for beginning trail runners, and can be tailored for both short and long distances. The park has ample parking and several side trails to explore. The trails here are relatively smooth, but trail runners do need to be cautious of tree root systems, cyclists, and lots of off-leash dogs (which the park allows).
Weekends are usually quite crowded. If you’re running during a popular time, especially with an off-leash pup, trail etiquette is a must. Another trail option is Northern Walnut Creek Trail, which connects to the park. It’s paved and currently goes just over three miles to Balcones District Park, with future plans for more expansion.
12138 N. Lamar Blvd. – Website
➡ Keep reading: “3 Reasons to Get Lost at Walnut Creek Park This Summer”
Southern Walnut Creek Trail currently runs a little over seven miles, with future plans to connect with Walnut Metropolitan Park. Parking is available at Govalle Park, where you can start at mile marker zero and track your distance from there.
With a wide, paved surface and clear half-mile trail markers, this east Austin trail is ideal for beginning runners or those doing interval runs. The trial is flat until after mile five, where the incline increases slightly.
5200 Bolm Road – Website
3/ Shoal Creek Greenbelt Trail
Though there’s still a little construction as you get close to Lady Bird Lake, Shoal Creek Trail is convenient for running through the city. I recommend starting near 15th Street at the southern end of Pease Park, where a playground and small parking lot are located.
From there, you can run a loop around Pease Park and venture north on the clearly marked Shoal Creek Trail until it hits 38th Street. Dogs should be on a leash if they’re running this trail, except for the off-leash area from 24th to 29th Street. Eventually, the trail will extend past 38th Street up to U.S. 183.
1100 Kingsburry St.
4/ Mayfield Park Trail
As Austin grows and development booms, there are still beloved places of peace left intact. Conveniently located in central Austin, Mayfield Park is one such site. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Mayfield Park offers a tranquil setting and historic cottage–plus peacock sightings. The park’s one-mile trail is great for beginners and family-friendly.
There are designated parking spots. And if you’re wanting to challenge yourself even more, Mount Bonnell is nearby to incorporate stair intervals. The park sits next to Laguna Gloria (cultural cool-down, anyone?), but don’t bring Fido. Dogs aren’t allowed.
3805 W. 35th St. – Website
➡ Keep reading: “Find Serenity and Peacocks at Mayfield Park”
5/ Mueller Lake Park
Mueller Lake Park’s wide, paved loop trail is another popular place for those wanting to fit in a quick run. With a convenient location and view of the lake, it’s scenic as well as convenient. Park by the old airport hangar and grab a bite from the nearby food trucks after your run. Street parking is available, as well.
Development plans are underway to continue expanding the trails within the Mueller development. If you don’t mind running on sidewalks or side streets, you can make your run longer by jogging around the district.
4550 Mueller Blvd. – Website
6/ Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail
Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake is loved by Austin residents and visitors alike. With waterfront views, as well as entries and exits to popular downtown locations, it’s one of the most heavily trafficked trails in the city for good reason.
Art in Public Places delights runners with artwork in various spots, while the design of the bridged loops provides easy three-, five-, and 10-mile training courses. As much as I love exploring new running spots, this trail is the one I default to when I want a scenic view of the water or a long, Saturday morning run.
The eastside loop is usually not as crowded and parking is easy to find at Fiesta Gardens. Parking near there or underneath the MoPac bridge on the west end is usually your best bet.
➡ Keep reading: “Make Lady Bird Lake’s Eastside Loop Your Go-to Route”
7/ River Place Nature Trail
“Run River Place,” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said.
“They” are obviously fitness fanatics whose idea of fun is breathlessness and a running stairmaster. Lack of motivation aside, I must admit this is a great trail for experienced trail runners. If you’re not coordinated [raises hand], then don’t run this trail. Walk it, and you’ll still get a great workout.
River Place Nature Trail is actually comprised of three different trails of various lengths. Combined, it’s a total of five and a half miles, which may not sound like a lot until you begin logging all of those steps on the stairs.
8820 Big View Dr. – Website
8/ Violet Crown Trail
While some areas are smooth and flat, in other areas the terrain quickly changes to rocky and hilly. Be aware of those changes in pathways and inclines, and pay attention to your surroundings. Appropriate footwear is highly recommended, as several parts of the trail are uneven and dry creek crossings can be a little unstable to run on (and will often flood after heavy rain).
New to Violet Crown Trail? Read our step-by-step guide for the current route, including directions to the trailhead.
4970 W. Hwy 290 (parking lot west of Spec’s) – Website
9/ Mary Moore Searight Metropolitan Park Trail
Mary Moore Searight Metropolitan Park in south Austin offers several trails, along with a multitude of other activities. It’s a destination in itself and great for a family or group outing. The side trails can be a little tricky to navigate, but the park’s access to Slaughter Creek adds to the beautiful scenery, and the trails aren’t as crowded as others closer to downtown.
Free parking is located next to the playground and public restrooms are onsite.
907 W. Slaughter Lane – Website
10/ McKinney Roughs Nature Park
If you really want to escape the city for a scenic run, take Highway 71 to McKinney Roughs Nature Park. The trail system totals 16.7 miles and the nature park will keep you delighted for hours, since you can view several different ecosystems and hundreds of species.
A small fee is required for park entry. McKinney Roughs Nature Park offers activity courses, as well as a canopy zip line tour within the park. Your dog can run with you, so long as it’s leashed, and wide trails ensure there’s room for all of the hikers, runners, and horseback riders present.
1884 Hwy 71 West, Cedar Creek, TX – Website
@theAustinot wants to know:
Where are your favorite Austin running trails?