I had the opportunity to hike in Travis Audubon Society Baker Sanctuary today with the Austin Sierra Club. This is a really scenic area with multiple trails to explore along both sides of the road and some challenging elevation change. It’s a wildlife preserve that is usually only accessible to Audubon Society members.
Baker Cabin, where a Texas Ranger’s family lived until the early 1980s
There is a historic cabin and cemetery along with a small events pavilion and restrooms. I encourage you to check out upcoming Austin Sierra Club events at this link. Their events always have informative guides and friendly people.
Mabel Davis District Park (3427 Parker Lane) has a skate park and some other sports features. A short unpaved trail along the back of the park yields about 0.6 miles with an out and back and has a view of a pretty ridge area.
Mary Frances Baylor Clarksville Pocket Park (1811 West 11th Street) is a small park with a splash pad and playground. It’s not ideal for running; the sidewalk that runs along one side only amounts to about 0.2 miles/loop but it is on a challenging hill.
Mountain View Neighborhood Park (9000 Middlebie Drive, not Road as the Parks Directory says) is a very pretty spot but also not ideal for running. There are no real loops to run; the sidewalk through it is very meandering and totals about 0.7 miles as you wander about. It is a great place to see the sunrise though. This park is hilly and has a playground, lots of good climbing trees, and pretty picnic areas.
Lott Pocket Park (1180 Curve Street) is a small park that is a pretty little spot to run, surprisingly quiet despite its proximity to I-35. Each lap around the sidewalk that surrounds it and its block equals 0.21 miles. There is a splash pad, gazebo, water fountains, street parking, and ample benches and grills. The park is on a bit of slope making for a little incline challenge.
Lott Pocket Park
Meadows at Trinity Crossing Neighborhood (5900 Sendero Hills Parkway) is a lovely spot that consists of a playground with picnic facilities around it flanked by long straight stretches of sidewalk. The sidewalk area is very manicured and overlooks a more wild area of meadow that is just teeming with life; the sound of insects, frogs, and birds is quite enjoyable to listen to in this quiet neighborhood. Near the entrance to this neighborhood there is a development of many modern homes, the architecture of which provides a neat view. The pathway is pretty sun-exposed but is flat.
Meadows at Trinity Crossing Neighborhood
Norman School Park is located at 4101 Tannehill Street, not 3901 Tannehill Lane like the Parks Directory lists. There’s a small playground and not much real running potential here; you can get 0.62 miles per out-and-back on the sidewalk that borders the park and school, but it’s not really worth the drive in my opinion.
Norman School Park
Across the street from Norman School however, there is a flat gravel track on land owned and maintained by Greater Works Baptist Church. The 1/4 mile loop is not a public park but is a pleasant, partially shaded place to run if you’re in the neighborhood, despite a little industrial noise on one side.
Greater Works Baptist Church track
Legend Oaks Neighborhood Park (7724 Escarpment Boulevard) is an undeveloped patch of woods in a residential area. There is no signage and it is not runnable. Lewis Mountain Ranch Neighborhood Park (8206 Lewis Mountain Drive) is also an undeveloped unrunnable tract.
Little Zilker Neighborhood Park (2016 Bluebonnet Lane), not to be confused with Zilker Metro Park, is located next to Zilker Elementary and has a short gravel path; each lap is about 0.3 miles. There were lots of users here when I visited, and many well-behaved dogs. You can easily park in the adjacent lot if school is out. There is a playground, water fountains, several benches, and some pretty mosaic mirror art here. The whole park is on a slope; at first glance you may not realize that but it really does make for a challenging run. I did five laps here.
Little Zilker Neighborhood Park
Another South Austin park is Longview Neighborhood Park (7609 Longview Road). There is a pretty open field here and a short paved wooded walkway to explore (about 0.34 miles per out-and-back roundtrip). There are some other facilities here like restrooms, picnic shelters, a small parking lot, and a basketball court; the playground is under construction. Lots of cyclists head out from this area.
Longview Neighborhood Park
Lamar Beach at Town Lake Metro Park (1200 West Cesar Chavez Street) is a well-trafficked section of the Town Lake/Lady Bird Lake Butler Trail. This represents one of many access points along the gravel Trail. This part has a few little inclines and nice views of the Lake. At 65 acres and with continuation on the whole rest of the Trail, you can go miles and miles here.
Once you’re ready for a change of scenery, Metz Neighborhood Park (2407 Canterbury Street) is about 10 minutes away. Along with a playground, swimming pool, splash pad (which I may have taken a few leaps through on this steamy day), restrooms, and (currently broken) water fountains, there’s a short path here mostly around the back of the park. Some of it is paved walkway over old rail tracks, which is kind of fun. The path dumps you out of the park next to the Holly Street Power Plant Decommission Project, an interesting visual in and of itself. If you continue back around the block you can get 0.57 miles/lap here. There’s a small parking lot at the on-site rec center.
End of the line at Metz Neighborhood Park
The park at JJ Seabrook Greenbelt (2000 Pershing Drive) is really just a wide median on a residential street that’s a bit hilly. It’s about 0.4 miles around the perimeter and has lots of varied big trees and easy street parking. There are no facilities here, just a few benches.
JJ Seabrook Greenbelt
Kealing School Park (1500 Rosewood Avenue) has a nice track as well as open green space. The track appears standard size at first but is actually only 0.17 miles around. It has some nice long straightaways built into one side that would be great for speedwork. A pretty skyline view can be seen from here. You can park in the small school lot when school is not in session, but this is a very congested street when it is. Beyond the track you’ll find a playground, an empty pool, and some hilly green space with shady sidewalks and restrooms.
Kealing School Park
A few others sites I visited this day were duds, running-wise. John Trevino Jr. Metro Park (9501 FM 969 Road) is fenced-in ranch land with no apparent public access. Knollwood Neighborhood Park (7503 Shelton Road) is undeveloped woods; there’s a little bit of unofficial path there but it didn’t look safe enough to me. Little Walnut Creek District Park (5100 East 51st Street) is also undeveloped and unrunnable.
Houston School Park (5506 Tallow Tree Drive) offers a short (0.18 mile) flat gravel loop. It’s very exposed to the sun but is a nice quiet place if you’re into running many laps. The tiny track is pretty well used; there were four people out on the muggy weekend morning I was here. There are no other facilities here but parking is easy to find when school is out.
Houston School Park
About ten minutes away at 2106 Cimarron Trail, Joslin Neighborhood Park has pretty much the same set-up. It’s also next to an elementary school and features a flat gravel trail; each lap is 0.22 miles. It offers a bit more shade and was deserted when I ran here. One can easily park in the street but there are no other facilities here either except a sport court.
Joslin Neighborhood Park
Hill School Neighborhood Park (8405 Tallwood Drive) is a great place to run if you have small children. The 0.15 mile flat gravel path encircles a big playscape where you can monitor the kids while you do laps. FitCore exercise stations are also scattered around the path along with water fountains. On-site parking is easy; the park is open after 5:30pm on weekdays when school is back in session.
Hill School Park
Less than 10 minutes away, Schroeter Neighborhood Park (11701 Big Trail) has a very wooded center which makes you feel like you’re exploring a much larger area than it’s 12 acres would belie as you run on the 0.57 mile gravel trail around the perimeter. A mulch nature trail snakes through that middle section too with some pretty scenery. Designated wildflower areas, though dried up right now, are probably quite a site when in season. Picnic areas and sports courts round out the features here; street parking is ample too.
Schroeter Neighborhood Park
I attempted to visit Lakeline Neighborhood Park (2701 South Lakeline Boulevard) on this day too but it’s an undeveloped, unrunnable patch of woods right now. The address is in Cedar Park but it’s listed as an Austin park. I then meandered over to Lamplight Pocket Park (12444 Lamplight Village Avenue), but it too is unrunnable at this time as the city is installing a water conservation system and drought-tolerant grasses, a project that has the whole park fenced off.
Holly Shores at Town Lake Metro Park (2711 Canterbury Street), like the other parks mentioned in this post, are part of the much larger trail around Lady Bird (Town) Lake. There are a variety of different access points, but this is an especially good ones because there’s a parking lot at this address (though a small one with about 8 or 9 spaces) and the area is scenic and not very crowded.
You can view the Longhorn dam from this spot and run right over it. There’s a pretty short railing on the water side so I find this bridge a little scary, but it’s not too bad. There seems to be more cyclists in this area than other parts of the Trail. Once you get over the dam, this immediate area is relatively flat and has a gravel trail. This section of the trail connects right over to Longhorn Shores at Town Lake Metro Park (60 South Pleasant Valley Road), where you can also find a small parking lot and can continue for miles along the Trail.
International Shores at Town Lake Metro Park (1800 South Lakeshore Boulevard) is a convenient spot to access the Trail and especially the new Boardwalk. The Boardwalk, which just opened last weekend, connects the East and West sides of the trail and is a lovely addition. It’s a nice wide pathway that’s quite scenic. It is completely sun-exposed unlike other portions of the Trail, so you’ll want to make sure your sun protection is in place. It’s definitely gotten pretty hot out there, so visiting in the early morning might be best this time of year. The address mentioned above allows you to easily street park for free and there is a nice new restroom and water fountains at this spot. Plenty of folks were out today checking out the new digs, but there was still ample room to run comfortably. Lakeshore at Town Lake Metro Park (2200 S Lakeshore Boulevard) is listed as a separate park but is all part of this same general area. Between these three access points, I did 2.1 miles of my run on the Trail today.