Visitors are always taken aback by how active the citizens of Austin are. Politically active, occasionally, depending on what old Mexican restaurant or dive bar is being threatened by development. But almost always physically active. Austin is one of the fittest cities in the country, definitely out-calorie-burning our Texas neighbors who place much closer to the bottom of the list. Not that we’re bragging or anything. But yeah, we kind of are.
A large part of Austin’s healthy habits are due to the many options for physical exercise. Our city is 14% green space, meaning that we have a plethora of trails for hiking, biking, and jogging. The daddy of them all is the Ann & Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail. Its 10-mile loop encircles Lady Bird Lake, with access points in downtown, South Austin, and East Austin.
At any given hour you can count hundreds of individuals moving down the trail either for exercise or leisure. I am always amazed that Austinites run rain or shine, morning or night, and more impressively, winter or 100 degrees of summer.
However the trail is much more than an outdoor treadmill, it is a part of Austin’s history and an example of how much we value the environment. Keep these fun facts in mind when you hit the paths this summer:
- In the 1960s the area around the lake was a barren wasteland. Lady Bird Johnson and other likeminded citizens came together to fundraise and plan one of the largest public projects our town had seen at that time.
- Keep your eyes peeled for birds! Aside from the famous bat colony living under the bridge at South Congress Avenue, the trail is home to dozens of bird species. If you’re an avid birdwatcher, check out this link for the full list.
- Even though the official name is Lady Bird Lake, you will often hear many locals refer to it as Town Lake. This is because the lake wasn’t renamed until 2007…and Town Lake is a lot quicker to pronounce.
- Things to do besides running/cycling: kayak, stand-up paddleboards, fishing, feed the geese, and hunt for trail musicians (bring tips for the musicians).
- The trail is made beautiful not only by the plants and wildlife, but also by the many art installations along the trail. We discovered art that you can climb on…even better!
- Check out the Boardwalk. The newest piece of the trail, the Boardwalk is located on the SE side of the loop.
Most importantly, bring water for hydration and don’t litter! Enjoy! 🙂