Scenic Run: The trail around Austin’s Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake)

I saw so many runners along the trail around Lady Bird Lake/Town Lake. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I traveled to Austin, Texas, from last Thursday through today for The Running Event, and once I knew I would be going, I knew I wanted to run at Lady Bird Lake, known as Town Lake by locals. 

I’d heard about this lakeside trail before, which is about 10 miles long. It was noted in a Runner’s World feature about running in Austin and also recommended by a BibRave Pro who lives in the Austin area. 

The trail seems to have a few names, one of which is the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail. A Lyft driver (and not the one who drove me to the trail) even mentioned how the lake has two names — Lady Bird Lake and Town Lake.

I decided I wanted to run the full loop, so I ended up running 10.5 miles on Saturday, Dec. 1. This also included a little spur I ran on that was slightly off the path.

It was great to be able to see the lake from the trail. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I started out by taking a Lyft to a starting point on the trail from the Airbnb where my boyfriend and I were staying. I know this may sound odd, but it was more than a mile, and basically, I didn’t want to run 12-plus miles — I wanted to run 10 miles, all of which would be on the trail. 

We were staying on the East Side, so I started the run at Festival Beach Park, near a boat launch. The address I’d put into the Lyft actually took me to an area that looked a little sketchy. I could see runners and would have still gotten out there, but the driver figured it would be better to take me to other other location, which worked out well for me. I thought that was thoughtful of her. 

I got a photo of myself running in the trail by putting the phone in a tree and using a self-timer. 

I started my run heading toward the downtown area. Particularly on the downtown side of Interstate 35, the trail was packed with runners, which I absolutely loved. It was so fun to see so many runners and walkers out on the beautiful day — it was in the 60s. 

I think I might have even seen pro ultrarunner Jim Walmsley heading the other way, but honestly, he was going too fast for me to get a good look. A few BibRave Pros and I had seen him at The Running Event expo, and there were two very skinny, fast guys wearing Hoka One One shirts heading the opposite way as me. I was going to get a photo when we crossed paths again, but we didn’t. 

I did see fellow BibRave Pro Mai (here’s her blog) just a little bit after that. She was also heading the opposite way as I was. We stopped for a quick photo and continued the ways we were originally heading. 

Most of the trail was a flat, crushed stone surface. As someone who lives in a super flat area, I noticed a few inclines, but overall, I would consider the trail flat. It wasn’t technical at all. There was also a stretch on the other side of the lake from where I started that was a long boardwalk. 

Here are Mai (right) and I, getting a selfie on the trail. (Mai Khuong photo)

Despite the relatively warm temperatures in the 60s, it was nice to see the fall colors on the trees around the lake. 

I wanted to run around the whole lake, but one thing I think is awesome about this trail is that because of the number of bridges, there are all kinds of distances that people could run and make a loop. There were also trails that branched off from the main loop. 

Different types of sculptures were also displayed along different parts of the trail. I got a photo of one of them, which had a bike design. 

Here’s one of the sculptures that could be found along the trail. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I also thought it was amazing how many water fountains there were along the path. I didn’t want to carry a water bottle, so I did a quick Google search beforehand, which let me know there’d be plenty of water fountains.

I noticed them very often along the trail. There were also bathrooms, although I did try to use one and it was locked. There was a sign on the fountains closest to those bathrooms saying the fountains were off for winterization, so I guess the bathrooms were closed for that reason as well. (Other ones could have been open, or in a desperate situation, it is a large city, so we were probably never that far from a bathroom.) However, I think I stopped at three or so water fountains, and I was able to get water easily out of all of those. 

I got a selfie on the westernmost bridge of the trail. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

People were also entering and exiting the trail at countless points, which was cool. 

Once I got to the easternmost edge of the lake, there was a bridge I had to cross to get back to the side I started on. There was work happening on the bridge, so we couldn’t continue along on the sidewalk, but there were police officers at both crossings to and from the sidewalk on the other side of the bridge to make sure that pedestrians and cyclists got across safely, which I thought was great. 

I didn’t wear headphones or listen to anything on the run, but I was kept entertained by all of the new-to-me scenery and beautiful views of the lake and surrounding area. I was also just continually impressed by the number of runners that were out there. It was awesome! 

Here’s a view from a boardwalk section of the trail. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

There was only one section that wasn’t the prettiest, which actually happened to be the section that the Lyft driver decided not to drop me off at. It seemed a little industrial and was near a couple baseball fields. It wasn’t as highly-populated as the other areas of the lake, but the trail was still easy to follow. 

There were also two people (not including Mai) that made a brief mention of the BibRave tank I was wearing, which I thought was really cool. 

Once I finished my 10.5 miles, I took another Lyft to meet my boyfriend for coffee at Cuvée Coffee. Although I did take some Lyft rides, we also did a ton of walking, and also rode on Bird motor scooters. For the three days that I was primarily in Austin — Thursday, Friday and Saturday — my watch logged a total of 95,198 steps. Now, on Sunday, I’m here at the airport in Charlotte between my flights from Charlotte to here and from here to Salisbury. 

Here’s another view from early on in my run. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

An interactive map of the trail can be found here. I found this map helpful, too (it was simpler-looking).

Views of skyscrapers could be spotted from parts of the trail. (Vanessa Junkin photo) 
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