An outdoor lover’s guide to Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas, is known for its music and Tex-Mex. Photo: Shutterstock
Austin, Texas, is stop number eight on GrindTV’s urban road trip series, which tells you how to get outside when you’re in an urban area.

Texas is best known as a breeding ground for new music and as the heart of the Tex-Mex food scene, but the capital of Texas also has trails, crags and wilderness slipping out of its seams.

You won’t have to go far to find something to do outside.


Former president George W. Bush and Austin's most famous rider, Lance Armstrong go for a ride. Photo:  Paul Morse/The White House.
Former president George W. Bush and Austin’s fastest, Lance Armstrong, go for a ride. Photo: Courtesy of Paul Morse/The White House
The city of Austin is designated as a silver-level, bicycle-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists, so it’s easy and straightforward to find routes in the city, or to get around by bike.

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If you want to do more than bike commuting, there are unlimited miles of rolling roads to ride and tons of good technical single-track. Within the city, you can ride trails at places such as the Emma Long Metropolitan Park.

There’s also a lot of municipal property dedicated to biking like the Lance Armstrong Bikeway — named for the city’s most famous rider (no matter what you may think of him these days) — and the city Veloway, a smooth, beautiful looping path that’s designated for bikes.


Whatever style of climbing you prefer, you can find it close to Austin. Barton Creek Greenbelt — right in town — has a range of good limestone sport routes, and Rogers Park, to the north of the city, has good, hard bouldering projects. You can even find deepwater soloing at Pace Bend Park, on the edge of Lake Travis.

Trail running

Those same trails that you can bike on and climb off are good for trail running, too, but Austin has more options than just those. Parks and green spaces interlace Austin, and you can run on trails around Lady Bird Lake, Shoal Lake and along the Barton Creek Greenway.

There’s also a big trail-running community, so if you’re looking for people who run at your pace, they should be easy to find.


Austin Texas
Hamilton Pool near Austin, Texas. Photo: Shutterstock
Austin has one of the sweetest outdoor swimming pools ever. Barton Springs Pool, in Zilker Park, is a three-acre public pool that is fed by a natural spring.

You can swim in it year-round — it stays at about 70 degrees — and it’s big enough to get some serious laps in. There is also the Hamilton Pool Preserve, which is a gorgeous natural pool just outside of Austin that is often featured on travel lists highlighting the best swimming holes in the world.

The water in the preserve can be cold, but you can hike the grounds around the pool if swimming isn’t an option that day.


Paddleboarding Austin. Photo: Lars Ploughman/Flickr
Paddleboarding in Austin. Photo: Lars Plougmann/Flickr
As the Colorado River flows through Austin, it pools up, creating multiple lakes such as Lake Austin, Lake Travis and Lady Bird Lake. All of those bodies of water are able to be paddled, and some of them are big enough that a circumnavigation will take you all day, so standup paddling has become really popular in Austin.

One of the best parts is that the lakes are in the city and easily accessible, so no matter where you live, you’ve got options for a nearby place to paddle.

More city guides on GrindTV

An outdoor lover’s guide to Portland

An outdoor lover’s guide to Chicago

An outdoor lover’s guide to Washington, D.C.

An outdoor lover’s guide to New York

An outdoor lover’s guide to Boston

An outdoor lover’s guide to Denver

An outdoor lover’s guide to Seattle

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