One unique thing about Austin, is the copious amounts outdoor activities, even though it is a city. This city has several greenbelts, lakes, rivers and pools to visit, which is a nice escape from the city life and traffic. We got most of our outdoor activities in on our first week’s visit, because when we got back from San Diego and Vegas, it rained for the first 10 days! We got good use out of the gym at the apartment we rented though!
On our first day in Austin at Kristie and Adrian’s brunch, we had someone recommend Hamilton Pool. He mentioned there are tons of places to go swimming, but this one was his favorite because it was so naturally beautiful. We decided to make a day trip out of it, and go to the pool, drive around some of the neighborhoods that I heard about, and check out lake Travis. We set out late morning to Hamilton Pool, which is in Dripping Springs. The drive out was really pretty, driving on windy roads, hills, and ranches. We found out that swimming was not available due to high bacteria levels, but that was fine because we did not plan to go swimming, we just wanted to see it. This worked in our favor because we got right in, found parking, and hiked to the natural pool. The pictures do not do it much justice, but it was really beautiful. You hike about .25 miles to the pool, around the pool in the cave area, and then you can also walk about 1 mile to the river front which was really pretty too. I hope I get to come swim here sometime! If you do visit and want to swim, make sure you make a reservation in advance!
Circle C and Bauerle Ranches
A few places to hike near us was Circle C Ranch and Bauerle Ranch. This isn’t the same kind of hiking you see in the northeast, but definitely an experience. We tried interval running Circle C, but it was narrow, rocky, and a lot of tall grass. We will call it an adventurous trail run! This was a 6 mile loop, great for mountain biking and horseback riding, and there’s also some information signs along the way too. Bauerle Ranch was within walking distance from the house we were staying in, and was a nice loop for me to take alone. I saw lots of butterflies, cactus, and a tree swing in the woods and a library share!
Mount Bonnell was recommended to us by a few people, so we took the drive up at sunset. Unfortunately, we got stuck in traffic and missed the actual sunset, but it was still beautiful post sunset. The drive there is through a really nice neighborhoods, Tarrytown and Highland Park West. You park on the street, and walk up a bunch of steps to get to the top of this hill which overlooks the Colorado River. Talk about some NICE houses. Damn. If we had the money this is EXACTLY where we would live and have a boat! If you get the chance, bring a bottle of wine and some snacks up for a romantic sunset experience.
Barton Creek Greenbelt
This greenbelt was highly recommended by others, and through some searches online. I found this great map and guide which explains the whole length of the green belt, access points, and anything else you might need to know. We decided to drive to the Spyglass entrance, and took a right, north, onto the trail. What a cool place! We started our hike in the woods alongside the river, which is an nice terrain for any level hiker. Then we came across a cliff where a ton of people were rock climbing. NOPE! Not for me! As we walked further, we saw a free spirited hippie setting up a hammock in the river, and a little further came across a natural pool. At the pool there were people swimming, drinking wine, playing a guitar, sunbathing, and jumping into the water off a rope swing. We kept going along the trail and eventually got a little lost, but that’s ok, it is really easy to find your way around. Once we hit the 2.5ish mile mark, we headed back. One of these days, I’d like to hike up and down the whole thing and go swimming afterwards!
Lady Bird Lake
Need a mix of city and nature? Lady Bird Lake boardwalk is the perfect place to get the best of both worlds. I’m sure there are many places to enter the lake, but we parked on Riverside drive, and walked over to the trail. This trail runs around the lake, which in total is about 20 miles around and overlooks the city. As we ran through the park, we passed areas where dogs can be off the leash, the Congress Ave Bat Bridge, people on slack lines, turtles sunbathing, kayak and paddle board rentals, boat rides and more. I really wish we could have ran here more, but the weather did not cooperate with us on the 2nd leg in Austin! Until next time!