UT students can find a number of well-maintained, safe trails that start or end near campus. Many of the trails are bike-friendly and are often crowded with runners — especially as the Austin Marathon approaches. The five best trails near campus are all reachable by foot. Competitive runners, Saturday morning joggers and those trying to get through their first mile can enjoy the sweet spring weather on these trails.
Head down 24th Street across North Lamar Boulevard. Across the overpass, turn left and head down the concrete steps to an oasis that feels far-removed from the surrounding cityscape. This trail is generally less crowded than the trails around Lady Bird Lake, but it is not as well kept. Runners may have to skip along the limestone rocks in order to cross muddier parts of the trail. Shoal Creek Trail is about three miles long or six miles round-trip.
Lady Bird Lake
From the Shoal Creek Trail, cross West Cesar Chavez Street and turn right onto the Lady Bird Lake trail. This trail features scenic lake views, interesting graffiti and plenty of fellow runners. Runners can spot birds, turtles and other wildlife along the trail throughout the year. Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from under South First Bridge around sunset during the summer and autumn. A new trail, with several small gazebos and water fountains, was recently built to the east of First Street and Congress Avenue along the lake.
Barton Creek Greenbelt
Take a turn off the Lady Bird Lake trail into Zilker Park and begin the 7.2-mile trail through diverse foliage and scenic limestone waterfalls. This trail is not for the faint of heart — it can get rocky and hilly, and runners must be alert for mountain bikers — but it’s worth it. The Barton Creek Greenbelt is one of the best hiking trails in Texas, according to Texas Monthly.
North Campus/Hyde Park
From the north side of campus, run down Red River Street, past the Lyndon B. Johnson Library, and turn left on 38th Street. From there, the quiet Hyde Park neighborhood awaits. A runner can either turn left onto Speedway for a quick three-mile track or continue looping through the neighborhood for a longer path past small, bright houses. For a sweet treat after a run, they can stop at Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery for a pastry or Dolce Vita for some gelato.
For an even longer, hilly route, run down Speedway past the Capitol and turn right at Lady Bird Lake. Keep running on the lake trail until you get to Exposition Boulevard. Run up Exposition Boulevard until you get to West 35th Street, where you should turn left to find the trails at Mount Bonnell. Pack a camera to capture some of the best views of the City. To get back to UT, continue running down 35th Street until the road turns into 38th Street. The road will eventually hit campus.