If you haven’t paid a recent visit to Austin’s Camp Mabry, then you’re missing out on some fabulous new upgrades. If you’ve never been at all, here’s your introduction to one of the city’s best resources for free family-friendly fitness.
What Is Camp Mabry?
First, it’s pronounced “MAY-bree.” The camp, covering some 375 acres, is home to the Texas Military Forces, made up of citizen soldiers in the Texas State Guard, Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard. Established in 1892, Camp Mabry is a registered National Historic Landmark. It’s also home to the Texas Military Forces Museum (another well-kept, family fun secret).
Here’s where general fitness comes to play: Camp Mabry is home to a 1-mile paved track and assorted outdoor equipment, all open (and free) to the public for use. There are even water fountains, outdoor showers and a bathroom to keep the workout feeling good.
Free Fitness Facilities at Camp Mabry
In the summer of 2014, the old crushed granite trail was replaced with a rubberized, all-weather track surface. The 1-mile loop was also widened and leveled, eliminating low-lying areas and uneven ground that collected water.
The “start” post is located near the green gazebo and water fountain by the parking lot. As you progress around the loop, quarter-mile posts mark the distance. Move counter-clockwise with the rest of the traffic (if you can’t read the markers, you’re going the wrong way). Though open to strollers and wheelchairs, leave bikes, rollerblades and other wheeled items at home.
Beautiful oak trees shade portions of the track, but much is in full sun. Mornings and evenings are especially nice times for use.
While not technically “fitness equipment,” the grandstand is a great workout resource. Its covered area is excellent for stretching. Use the concrete risers for heel drops, tie bands to the railings, practice “fast feet” drills on steps and place water bottles and towels on seats for a shady break between laps or sets.
Park Fitness Area
Just beyond the unisex bathroom (indoor, ADA-compliant) and the outdoor showers, but before the green bench under the big oak tree, is the fitness area.
This outdoor equipment is partially covered and permanently fixed into a grated surface, so wear shoes. There are no posted instructions for use, but the simplicity of the features allow for easy (and fun) experimentation.
There are a variety of machines (elliptical, stepper, wobble board and rower), areas for pull-ups and sit-ups, and parallel bars for dips, shrugs and lifts. And you can enjoy watching track users while you work out.
Need a little help with how to use the equipment? Check out these “Fitness Park Exercises” from Playcore.com.
Top 3 Reasons to Head to Camp Mabry for a Workout
- Basic fitness equipment, much of it utilizing body-weight exercises, is free to use and few people know about it.
- It’s a safe, well-lit solo night run and workout choice for those who love being outdoors.
- The 1-mile track is a great option for buddies who run and walk at different speeds to work out together. Family members can all move at their own pace while remaining within sight of one another.
How Do I Get to Camp Mabry’s Track and Fitness Area?
Address: 2200 W 35th Street
Since 2011, drive-in access to Camp Mabry has changed for safety purposes. What used to be the main entrance, the imposing rock entryway and flagpoles near MoPac on W 35th Street, has been barricaded shut. In addition, the entrance located at 45th Street is closed, though at certain times of the day, cars can exit the base there.
Head west on 35th Street, past the former main entrance. Approximately half a mile farther west on 35th Street–after the light at Exposition but before the three-way stop sign at Balcones–there’s a brown recreational sign denoting the Camp Mabry entrance to the right. Enter the black iron fence and move into the right “visitors” lane.
Stop at the security post. Have a photo ID ready to present. The guard will ask your purpose (“I’m going to work out at the track,” for example), whether you are carrying any firearms and, sometimes, will inspect the vehicle and open the trunk. If you are riding a bike, you must have a photo ID and wear a shirt to enter the grounds.
After you’ve been cleared to enter, proceed straight ahead on Maintenance Drive. Watch the speed limit–it drops as you get farther onto the grounds. You’ll pass a road to the right. This leads to the covered picnic area, volleyball court, native plant garden, outdoor grills, bathrooms and catch-and-release fishing pond. That one-way road also goes to the track, but doing so involves some backtracking on General Mabry Drive.
Pass the turn to the picnic area and continue straight. At the four-way stop, turn right. Ahead is the exit to 45th Street. Follow the road as it veers to the right, around the post’s exchange and recycling center. Merge onto General Mabry Drive. At the next stop sign, turn left into the fitness area parking lot.
Know Before You Go
Public fitness facilities are open from 5 AM-11 PM every day. While these are the posted hours, please note that admittance to the grounds at Camp Mabry is at the discretion of the post commander. The exterior of the track is lit, but the central area of the loop is not. Please make sure children are attended, and do not allow them to play in the center of the track area. And leave Fido at home; dogs are not allowed on Camp Mabry’s track or parade grounds.
If you see a helicopter coming in low, watch out. It’s heading toward the open area of the parade field to land. Move away, shield your eyes from flying dust and debris and enjoy.
@leahruns100 wants to know:
What fun thing did you do last time you visited Camp Mabry?
We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like CDs, event tickets and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It’s where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here!