I had to smile when I saw that quote painted on the bridge
shown in the photos below:
The two white dots in the water are geese -- lots
of birds around here.
That art work is more than just urban graffiti. It's classic advice for
in a stressful world. If there's anything I've learned in my life, it's that change is
inevitable and the more flexible I can be while adapting to those
changes, the happier I'll be.
This is another view of the bridge and two of its other artistic
expressions from the Town Lake Trail on the
north side of the river:
I like the perspective of the bridge and the reflections in the
RE-VISITING TOWN LAKE TRAIL
I wrote an introduction to Town Lake Trail during our first visit to
December, 2009. This wide, smooth dirt/crushed
rock trail is part of an extensive system of scenic
paths that follow natural greenbelts all over the city. A year ago the
Austin City Parks & Recreation Dept.
website said there are "over 50 miles"
of trails in the system. Now it says 193 miles, which is hard for me to
believe. The RunTex
site still says 50 miles.
Walkers and runners follow the trail through Butler
If you click on this
link you can see the photos I took a
of the very popular western section of the 10-mile running-walking-cycling path
that follows both banks of the Colorado River from the Mopac Bridge to
the First Street Bridge near
How popular? The Parks & Rec
website says 1.5 million people use
this trail each year!
That link takes you to a map of the loop from the Mopac Bridge and Zilker Park on the west to Lady Bird Lake and Guerro
Colorado River Park on the east. I broke the map into two sections so
you can see it here:
Western half of loop, including
spurs along Barton, Johnson, and Shoal Creeks
Eastern half of loop, including
spurs along Bunn and Waller Creeks;
another spur goes east through
Guerrero Park. Note the "Norwood Tract!"
There are additional maps of these and other trails on the Parks & Rec and RunTex sites above.
Jim and I still haven't seen all of Town Lake Trail, let alone the greenbelt
run off from it. This time we did explore several more miles of the main
trail from the
First Street Bridge through Rendon Park in the eastern half of the loop.
Next time we'll check out the Longhorn Dam and the paths around Lady Bird Lake (shown to the right in the second map above).
NEW PHOTOS OF TOWN LAKE TRAIL
The photos in this entry are from three walks and one bike ride I
took on the Town Lake Trail. Most of them are from sections of the trail
that I haven't shown you before. Jim ran and walked those days, too, but
didn't have a camera. The only place he's gone that I didn't was on
sidewalks below the Norwood Tract and on a pedestrian bridge on I-35
across the river (shown on second map above).
The busiest day was the MLK holiday Monday when the
sun finally came out after days of overcast skies:
Lots of folks on the trail near the Pfluger
pedestrian bridge and YMCA
Even on cloudy weekdays with temperatures in the 40s, however, we
never lonely on the Town Lake Trail! This place is as
athletically-inclined as anywhere you'll find in outdoorsy states like
Colorado, Utah, or California.
What a great resource for residents and visitors.
Each of our trail forays began at the YMCA on one of two trails that
go either across or under busy Cesar Chavez Street near its intersection
with Lamar Street. Both paths link to Town Lake Trail, which runs along
a grassy, treed area between Cesar Chavez and the Colorado River (photo
above) on the north side of the river. Once on the trail you can go
either east or west.
are convenient parking lots at other points along the trail but that one was
handy for us since we like to work out at the Y two or three times a
week. It's also a couple blocks from Whole Foods and REI, two of our
Above and below:
oars-women-in-training glide under the Mopac Bridge west of the YMCA
Once on the Town Lake Trail, folks can remain on the north side of
the river or cross one of several bridges to the trail on the other side
of the river.
The bridge closest to the Y is the handsome Pfluger pedestrian
bridge that parallels the Lamar Street vehicular bridge. I was on this
bridge a couple days after we arrived in Austin when I noticed the rail
bridge artwork; that's where I took the first two photos at the top of
Pfluger pedestrian bridge
The south side of the foot bridge connects to W. Riverside Dr. The north
side by Cesar Chavez St. has both steps and a multi-tiered ramp for
cyclists, strollers, and people with bad knees (!) to use.
Here's a top-down view of two levels of the ramp:
I put double red arrows on the ramp to indicate two-way foot/bicycle
traffic and a check mark on an extension of the foot bridge that is
being built across Cesar Chavez. That extension gives trail users a
third option for getting across Cesar Chavez.
Here's another view of the ramp from
If you're already on Town Lake Trail and don't want to go across the
river, you can just run right under the ramp on this concrete path. A
few other places along the trail are also concrete instead of dirt, but
most of it is soft-surfaced.
Town Lake Trail has all kinds of interesting features like this.
SCENES FROM THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE RIVER
The following set of photos are along the south side of the river and
east of the Pfluger foot bridge.
City-scape across the river from
Butler Park; I'm on a tiered grassy area above the trail.
The first park trail users come to is Butler Park, a large tiered,
grassy, leash-free area where dogs can run free. And boy, do they!
Runners and cyclists really have to be careful for about a quarter mile
along the river trail so they don't trip over or run into frisky dogs of all breeds.
Cody loved chasing after sticks in this area.
I took this shot looking back at the dog park from the First Street Bridge. It's
only a part of the huge area where dogs are off-leash:
There are always several large orange containers full of water here
for trail users. I don't remember seeing any water fountains anywhere
along Town Lake Trail.
At this end of the park, next to the river (past lower right corner
in photo above), is a handsome Oriental-style pavilion and pool of water
The pavilion on a blue-sky day
On cloudy days, the white roof of
the pavilion simply disappears in the clouds!
I love that area beside the trail; it's very peaceful and
provides a shady respite in the summer.
That's as far as I'd previously gotten east-bound on this side of the
river. These photos show the next half mile right above the river and
past some businesses:
Above and below: rental
canoes, paddleboats, houseboats, etc.
Above and below: nice city
skyline views across the river (Congress St. Bridge below)
Shortly after the quiet, wooded section in the next photo the dirt
trail ends up in a parking lot. Twice I chose to turn around and retrace
To continue around the Town Lake Trail loop
trail users must follow W. Riverside Drive on sidewalks for about a mile
There they can either cross the northbound freeway bridge (yes, there's
a protected path for pedestrians but it's very noisy, according to Jim)
or they can continue east along Riverside Drive until the dirt trail
resumes at International Shores.
You can see the route on the second map in this entry
above. Why it doesn't go through the green space identified as "Norwood
Tract" is beyond me . . .
SCENES FROM THE NORTH SIDE OF THE RIVER
Two other times I accessed Town Lake Trail from the Y and headed
east, walking and cycling out-and-back without crossing the river. It
was new territory for me from the Pfluger pedestrian bridge to the far
side of Rendon Park, a distance of about 2½
miles one way.
I took the first photos going eastbound
under the Congress Street Bridge:
On the other side I found a large, attractive hotel or condominium
with huge palm trees and a large four-board display about the largest
urban colony of bats in the U.S.:
Between March and November an estimated 750,000 Mexican free-tailed
bats migrate to Austin from central Mexico and live in the small
protected spaces under the Congress Street Bridge.
Residents and visitors from all over the world come to see the bats
emerge to feed on insects each evening around sunset. The signs provide
all sorts of information about the bats, including when the best times
are to watch for them (the most spectacular flights are the second half
Someday we need to visit Austin in the spring or fall (summer would be
pretty hot) so we can watch this natural spectacle. I've seen bats
emerging from Carlsbad Caverns but watching them fly from the bridge
would be different.
Continuing along the trail, heading east toward I-35:
The trail has some hills and curves in the next mile. It's noisy
going under the freeway but soon becomes much more pleasant right next
to the lake through Rendon Park:
Jim and Cody walk along the
Colorado River/Lady Bird Lake.
I took this picture at my turn-around point the day I rode my bike on
this part of the trail:
This is an attractive little arched bridge at the
confluence of Waller Creek and the Colorado River:
That bridge was fun to ride over!
Next time we plan to find even more of this trail
system. Jim isn't interested in riding much of it because there are so
many people who use the trail. He'd rather run and walk on it. Since I
can't run any more, the only way I can see much of the trail is to ride
my bike. Carefully!
MAP AND INFORMATION LINKS
Here are some links for more information about Austin's
great trail system:
Parks & Recreation Department/Trails:
there are several links to maps at this page.
Town Lake Trail Dot Org
also has map links.
RunTex Dot Com has links to
almost 60 different, detailed trail segments.
Next entry: exploring Bastrop and Buescher state
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil