Features

Fun in the Sun: Outdoor Activities in Austin

Where to hike, bike, and wade into cool water


Barton Springs Pool (Photo by John Anderson)

Whatever aspect of our beloved city won your heart, I'd wager it wasn't our August weather. But many fond outdoor memories can be made in Austin – if you know where to look. Any Austinite worth their complaints about I-35 knows you can't call Travis County home without biking or hiking around, and then wading in, the Barton Creek Greenbelt (3755 Capital of TX Hwy. S.). You can pop in at several spots. Start with the entrance near Zilker. With a bike, you could easily pair it with a swim in Barton Springs Pool (2201 Barton Springs Rd.). Both are natural waterways full of plants and animals. As are Jacob's Well (1699 Mt. Sharp Rd., Wimberley) and Hamilton Pool (24300 Hamilton Pool Rd., Dripping Springs) – two very popular swimming holes about an hour outside Austin. (Both require reservations.) If swimming with algae isn't your thing, then Deep Eddy (401 Deep Eddy Ave.) might be. It's a spring-fed, traditional pool with the comfort of a concrete floor. Once you check those off your list, plan an overnight at McKinney Falls State Park (5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy.). It's located just 13 miles from Downtown, but feels so secluded you'll forget that. It has some water all year, with flowing falls most of the year, and nine miles of trails – making it hands-down the best in-town nature retreat. For a similar northwest option, check out St. Edward's Park (7301 Spicewood Springs Rd.). Like McKinney Falls, it has flowing waterfalls most of the year and smaller crowds than places like the Greenbelt. But you can't camp, and, as a city park, it's much smaller with a tiny parking lot. Arrive early or take alternative transportation to avoid parking issues. Once summer ends – probably sometime in mid-November – keep McKinney Falls and St. Edward's Park in mind. Both offer some color change in the fall and amazing wildflowers in the spring.

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