Covert Park at Mount Bonnell (3800 Mount Bonnell Road) is a popular scenic overlook. It’s the highest point in the city limits of Austin at 775 feet. This also makes its a great place for incline training in the form of hill repeats, which I did there yesterday (and have done regularly in the past). A long staircase leads you up to the summit and then a rocky trail takes you back down the hill. It’s a trek, but the great view of the surrounding homes, the waterway, and the Pennybacker Bridge reward you at the top. Parking is available near the base of the stairs; other than a few picnic tables and informative historical signs, there are no other facilities here. Covert Park is not on the Parks Directory, but does seem to be a city park based on the signage there.
A two-minute drive takes you right to Mayfield Nature Preserve (3801 West 25th Street). This is a charming spot that I consider the best place in Austin to picnic; we always take out of town visitors here. There is a cottage with beautiful ponds and gardens behind it, and the resident peacocks are a popular attraction to view. They are so beautiful, and on this day, pretty noisy!
Lovely as the grounds near the front of the park are, the trails here are also not to be missed. The unpaved trails wind through a wooded area and along the lake, offering lots of shade and scenery. You can also take one of the easy-to-follow trails over to neighboring Laguna Gloria, part of Austin’s Contemporary art organization.
Between the two sites, I got in two miles of yesterday’s run at these locations.
Though its official address is 800 West Riverside Drive, this massive trail is accessed by many different parks throughout Central Austin. Truly one of the best parts of living in Austin, the Trail is a real gem that we should all value. I’ll updates links to the related park posts here.
Butler Shores at Town Lake Metro Park
Auditorium Shores at Town Lake Metro Park
Shoal Creek Greenbelt
Edward Rendon Sr. Metro Park at Festival Beach
Butler Metro Park
Eilers (Deep Eddy) Park/Zilker Metro Park
Eilers (Deep Eddy) Neighborhood Park is located at 401 Deep Eddy Avenue in Central Austin. It’s best known for its pool, which was looking quite inviting even on this chilly day, but is also a great spot to access Town Lake Trail. Parking was plentiful on this weekday but gets crowded on summer weekends. The water fountains here are off at this time; restrooms, a small playground, and picnic tables are available.
Signs of spring at Eilers Park
Following the mostly unpaved trail from Eilers Park will lead you right over to Zilker Metro Park (2100 Barton Springs Drive), Austin’s huge premier park with trails, vast open expanses, and lots of amenities, including a fun train to ride which is a favorite for our family.
Lou Neff Point at Zilker Park
Before you get to the spot known as The Rock near the pedestrian bridge, the trail from Eilers also branches off into the Johnson Creek Greenbelt (2001 Enfield Road) which snakes under Mopac and has its own miles of trails and picnic areas.
It was a gorgeous day for a run while I was out yesterday. On this special anniversary date, I dedicated my miles to those affected by the Boston Marathon tragedy.
This is not a city park but I’m including it here because it’s a fun place to run and is open to the public. Located in the Mueller area, a mostly paved trail circles around the lake. Swans, geese, and ducks have taken up residence and you can’t help but hear them as well as the pretty fountains.
There are sports courts, a playground, and exercise stations here in addition to restrooms, picnic seating, and a firepit. Parking can be a little bit of a challenge some days, but this spot is still worth the trip and is a vibrant place to get a few laps in.
Emma Long Metro Park is located at 3600 City Park Road in Northwest Austin. It’s a little bit of a drive for some, but definitely worth it. With miles and miles of beautiful unpaved trails, it has become a new area favorite of mine. Quite secluded on the day I visited last week, I had the trails to myself for the first mile and then came upon just a few others with their well-behaved dogs. The trail criss-crosses over the creek several times and has some elevetion gain, so be prepared. But that makes it really fun and interesting. It’s a serene and shady spot great for all seasons.
You can find parking and the trailhead for the popular Turkey Creek Trail before the main gate where you have to pay to enter.
Eastwoods Neighborhood Park is locared at 3001 Harris Park Avenue in Northeast Austin, the University area. This park has sports fields, restrooms, a splash pad, and a short unpaved trail that I got about 1.4 miles of my run on with several loops and some meandering through the middle.
If you’re getting depressed by all the drab winter foliage like me, this is a great spot for some color! These flowering trees are defying the season.
I had the place to myself on this cold rainy weekday. Paid street parking is available along one side of the park. If you want to get a bit of extra running conditioning in, Bellevue Place is one of the arteries off the park that has a nice hill to run hill repeats on. You can read more about the rich history of this well-maintained park here.
Several art pieces provide visual interest as you loop around the trail.
A small footbridge reveals a peek over Waller Creek.
Edward Rendon Sr. Metro Park at Festival Beach is located at 2101 Jesse E. Segovia Street in Central Austin. The trail here makes up part of the Lady Bird (Town) Lake Trail, so you can choose whatever distance you want and just keep going and going on this unpaved trail along the water. This a really pretty, tree-filled spot that was especially peaceful on the overcast day I visited.
This tribute to Ignacio “Nash” Hernandez Sr. is part of the Trail of Tejano Legends.
Many ducks and just a few dog walkers shared to park with me this day. Ample parking lots are available here, as are playgrounds, sports fields, picnic tables and shelters, and a pool.
This poem stands next to a beautiful 182 grove of trees dedicated to those whose names are memorialized on the other side of the marker.
Duncan Neighborhood Park is located at 900 West 9th Street in Central Austin. It’s along the Shoal Creek Trail so while there’s not a whole lot of area to run in right here, you can check it out as you explore the rest of the trail; I got just over a mile in for the part of my workout I did here, even with a detour a few blocks over to visit the lovely Allan House, our wedding venue.
One side of the park has open green space, and across the street you’ll find a cool BMX park. No one was using it when I visited, but I bet it can be a fun thing to watch when it is inhabited, especially when the X Games come to Austin in June.
Paid street parking is available alongside the park. This bustling area is always busy in the day time and a safe place to scope out as you run along the trail.
Artwork at Duncan Park
Dove Springs District Park is located at 5801 Ainez Drive in South Austin. It’s a fun place to run because it offers two different experiences based on which part of the trail you use. One part is more out in the open and circles the many facilities offered here (baseball fields; basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts; playgrounds; a pool; and a rec center). The trail branches off to a much more wooded area along the creek that lends a more natural and secluded feel but is still close enough to the other facilities and the neighboring golf course to feel really safe.
This fun stairway was the only spot with any real elevation change.
It’s really a different experience to run trails in the winter. The bare trees clacked together overhead on this breezy day, and you could see much more around you than when the woods are more dense with leaves. Several cardinals I spotted reminded me that spring is not that far off. Unfortunately right now much of the waterway and some of the surrounding woods here are just full of garbage which I believed may have washed down here with all the recent flooding. Tons of plastic bottles, tires, fabric and the like litter the place; it’s not everywhere though so you can still enjoy the park, but it certainly is unsightly and sad (and a reason to watch what you’re stepping on).
I love coming upon nature-made archways over a trail like this. As you can see it was a beautiful clear day too!
Even with the two trail areas, there’s not a lot of distance to be had here; I ran just over 1.3 miles at this park even with thoroughly exploring both spots. You can park at the rec center and depending on the time of day you visit, the open area will be full of the playground shouts of the children at the school across the street. Several other people were out walking on this lovely mid-day.
Looking forward to sharing my adventures in 2014 and furthering this project! In the meantime, here’s a quick photo from my most recent park run, in Dottie Jordan Neighborhood Park (2803 Loyola Lane), a park with a nice yet short loop trail along a creek.
I’m also proud to be a Nuun Ambassador for 2014. Nuun is the hydration drink I’ve used for a long time and recommend to all my personal training clients. Because it’s all natural, tastes good, can easily be picked up online or at stores like HEB, and is healthier than many other “sports drinks” out there, I’m proud to represent them this year.