The Best Scenic Bike Paths in Austin

Although Texas’ Austin has a reputation as the live music capital of the world, tourists will quickly discover what locals know: Austin is more than music.

It is a lifestyle hub, offering a range of fun and fulfilling activities. Of those, bicycling has become a central focus, with Austin ranked as one of the top places in the nation to bicycle for men, women and children, sporting a number of distinct cycling paths. Whether you like to power yourself entirely or go electric, one of the following routes will beckon you to ride like the wind; take note, however: the city implemented a pilot program to examine electric bicycle allowances on trails, so check ahead as necessary.

The Veloway
The Veloway. Original photo from bikenoob.com
The Veloway

The first stop for families has to be the Veloway at Circle C Ranch Metropolitan Park, also called the Veloway Trail. This paved loop rolls for 3.1 miles among twisty trees and low-lying fields. For over 25 years, the destination has called to riders of all styles because of its distinct offering: The path is open only to bicycle riders and inline skaters (though this means you may have to leave your electric bike behind). As such, you will find it appealing whether you are a relaxed cruiser bicycle rider or a speedy drop-bar racer.

Ladybird Lake

When you are ready to increase your distance, head to downtown Austin to navigate the concrete path bordering one of the city’s central reservoirs. The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Ladybird Lake presents vastly different scenery from that of the Veloway. Here you feel the urban vibe as you pass by high-rises, parks, libraries and museums. Because of its optimal city location, the path can feel busy, so be prepared to ride leisurely as a member of the larger recreational community.

Ladybird Lake
Ladybird Lake. Original photo from spinlister.com
Southern Walnut Creek Trail

The Southern Walnut Creek Trail is another of Austin’s multi-use destinations where cars are banned (other than on a small section). The 7.3-mile paved path sports varied structures that add to its appeal, including bridges, trestles, benches and landmark signs. Whether on bikes for women, men or children, you are surrounded by greenery, but here the forest fauna is a bit richer than on the Veloway. As a bonus, this trail is dotted with connections to various neighborhoods and sports parks. Plans are ongoing to extend and link this gem with other trails.

Southern Walnut Creek Trail
Southern Walnut Creek Trail. Original photo from traillink.com
Creek Road in Dripping Springs

When it is time to really stretch your legs on the open roads, choose from among many loops known to experienced local riders. Rides in the Dripping Springs area are some of the best, including the Creek Road loop; though not strictly a path, this circuit is a top cycling pick for all ranges of cyclists. Start this eastern loop at Roger Hanks Park and revel in the route along beautiful Onion Creek. Beginners can make it a down-and-back trip to avoid having to access a busy highway to complete the loop.

Even as Austin incorporates a number of bike paths and routes, the community continues to plan for long-term cycling improvements in both the city and its surroundings. As a result, although this vibrant hub shines as a riding destination currently, it will continue to do so as it rolls into the future.

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