We run Austin: Three trails that are worth the sweat

Celesia Smith

Everything is bigger and better in Texas, and the Austin running scene is no exception. Thanks to the variety of trails found around the city, Austinites can hit the ground running from nearly anywhere and for any distance. Finding the perfect trail in a city with so many is a feat, so we’ve done it for you. These are the trails that are truly worth the sweat.

Mueller Lake Park

Looking for a flat trail without a crowd? Head to Mueller Lake Park. Mueller is home to a wide, half paved-half crushed granite trail loop that features a view of Mueller Lake and an open air amphitheater where you may be able to catch the occasional show. Another bonus of this trail is its convenient location near Mueller Regional Retail District and Mueller Town Center District for those who need to run errands before or after their workout.

Location: North Austin (4550 Mueller Blvd, Austin, TX 78723)

Parking: Street parking / Mueller Town Center Garage

Trail Type: Paved, crushed granite

Distance: 2.6 mile loop

Bonuses: Food truck park, farmer’s market on Sundays, plenty of porta potties, shopping districts nearby

Shoal Creek Trail  

If you want a mix of greenery and cityscape during your run, the Shoal Creek Trail is perfect for you. This beautiful, quiet trail is easy to follow, beginning at Lady Bird Lake and ending on 38th Street. The Shoal Creek Trail also runs through Pease Park, a serene, tree canopied destination that is home to a playground, picnic area and volleyball and basketball courts. After running through Pease Park, prepare to meet more rugged terrain. The trail goes through a bit of rocky uphill before finishing up on 38th Street.

Location: Central Austin

Parking: Street parking at northern and southern ends

Trail Type: Dirt, crushed granite, asphalt

Distance: 3.8 miles one way

Bonuses: Dog friendly, quiet, well shaded

Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake

Ready for a long run? Whether you are or not, the 10.1 mile loop around Town Lake is likely the perfect trail. If you’re not into high-mileage running, the 3.2 mile loop from the South First Bridge to the Mopac Bridge may be a great choice. Runners looking to go a bit longer can do the entire loop or even add on a mile or two “out and back” in parks along the trail to make their run 12 or even 14 miles. Those looking to do something in-between can complete 5-mile or 7-mile loops. The Town Lake Trail has seemingly endless options. But the perks don’t end there. With Barton Springs Pool only a short walk away from the Mopac Bridge entrance, a cool-down swim may be the perfect way to end your workout.

Those who frequent this trail will likely catch a glimpse of  the University of Texas’ cross country team. The collegiate runners spend almost every morning running around Town Lake because of the soft surface and sheer size of the trail.

Location: Central Austin — various entrances (Mopac Bridge, Vic Mathias Shores, Trinity and Caesar Chavez St.)

Parking: Varies based on entrance — most available is at the Vic Mathias Shores entrance and under the Mopac Bridge

Trail Type: Boardwalk, crushed granite, cement

Distance: 10.1 mile loop

Bonuses: Frequent water fountains and bathroom stops, dog friendly, close to Barton Springs, various calisthenics parks, ample parking