Austin is one of the best cities in America. It blends weird artistry with fusion-inspired culinary delights, and an outdoor atmosphere unparalleled by other metropolises. The Colorado River runs through the heart of the city, forming Lady Bird Lake, which is flanked by green parks and strolling paths. Further out, the city is nestled against the Texas Hill Country and within easy access of several state parks and preserves. All this nature makes for the perfect bike riding.
Whether you love to hit dirt single tracks on a mountain bike or prefer soaring across the pavement on a road bike, Austin has a trail to meet your needs. Here are some of the best bike trails in Austin when you feel like exploring the area on two wheels.
Best Bike Trails in Austin: 11 Charming Spots for a Two-Wheel Tour
Austin has an extensive network of outdoor spaces from greenbelts and preserves to tree-filled state parks. The biking opportunities here are extensive and feature little elevation gain. It’s the perfect place to hop on a bike for the first time or to improve your skills as a beginner. For more advanced riders, the area offers technical rides and plenty of ground to cover when you want an aerobic workout. Here are the best bike trails in Austin for all rider levels.
1. Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Bike Trail
Also known as the Town Lake Trail or Lady Bird Lake Trail, this is one of the top things to do in Austin. The urban 10-mile trail winds its way through the heart of Austin featuring a boardwalk over the lake and paved trails along the river. The ride features shady, tree-lined areas as well as sun-exposed portions. Ride the whole thing or just choose a section and finish up the activity with a picnic in one of the green spaces.
2. Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park
The Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park features a trail system offering easy to intermediate riding opportunities. The trail is dog-friendly so you can bring your pooch along. Take the outer loop or the Southern Walnut Creek Trail. The area provides both paved and single-track dirt trail riding as well as a BMX park.
3. Juniper Ridge Trail Pedernales Falls State Park
Located in Pedernales Falls State Park, this 0.6-mile bike trail is great for mountain bike enthusiasts. This rugged trail features drops and stairs, making it a more technical ride than other options in the area. It features short, steep climbs, a water crossing, and rocky sections to hone your skills on. The trail is shared with hikers so you’ll need to be careful and courteous along the trail. Combine it with the Rocky Ledges Trail to make it a longer jaunt.
4. Violet Crown Trail
The Violet Crown Trail is the first regional trail system in Central Texas. Currently 13 miles long and still under development, the trail will eventually offer 30 miles of trail through Barton Creek Wilderness Park into Hays County. There are six different trail routes available including the popular Zilker Trailhead to 360 Trailhead. This ride takes you through the Barton Creek Greenbelt and passes several climbing walls where you can stop for a quick break.
5. Slaughter Creek Preserve Trail
Located in South Austin, the Slaughter Creek Preserve Trail is a sunny single-track dirt trail for beginner to intermediate bikers. There isn’t much shade so this ride is best done early in the morning, late in the afternoon, or during the cooler months. The 5-mile trail features small rock gardens and easier technical sections with little elevation gain. Riders take the trail clockwise while hikers go counter-clockwise. That means you can carry speed and easily keep an eye out for other trail users.
6. Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail
Found in McKinney Falls State Park, the Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail winds past Upper McKinney Falls into a forest next to Onion Creek. The trail is 3 miles long and offers 100 feet of elevation gain. In the area, you’ll find scenic overlooks and historic cabins where you can stop for a snack break.
7. Emma Long Metropolitan Park
Emma Long Metropolitan Park edges up to Lake Austin, making it a popular spot for outdoor activities including swimming and paddleboarding. The park also features an extensive trail system as well as camping opportunities. Take the main loop to get an overview of the park or opt for a combination of different trails. Check out TrailForks for a map of the different options which include 4 mountain bike trails, 4 motorbike trails, and 15 hiking routes.
8. The Veloway
The Veloway is located in Circle C Ranch Metropolitan Park and is a 3.1-mile long paved track. Only bikes and rollerblading are allowed — no walking, skateboarding, or motorized devices. That makes for an excellent bike track, especially as users can only travel in one direction. Slow riders stay to the right so faster riders can pass. It’s a great spot for road bikers that are looking to get a workout in as well as for beginner cyclists that are learning the ropes.
9. Shoal Creek Trail
The Shoal Creek Trail is a 3.9-mile trail for mountain bikers and commuters. It runs from Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin through Pease and Duncan Parks, finally ending at 38th street. It’s a popular green transportation option for people who live north of the city and plans are to extend the path 9 miles to the north.
10. Brushy Creek Regional Trail
Brushy Creek Regional Trail is a 7.7-mile trail in northwest Austin made mostly of concrete. It winds through several parks, offering opportunities for swimming, climbing, and even kayaking. The trail offers amenities including food options and restrooms along the way, making it ideal for urban bikers and beginners.
11. Walnut Creek Trail
The Walnut Creek Trail in Balcones District Park is a short 1.3-mile loop trail. It’s a great place to spot native Texas wildflowers and pets are welcome as long as they are on a leash. It’s one of the less popular Austin trails so you can get some breathing room out here and practice your bike skills without as many crowds.
Explore the Great Outdoors in Austin
Austin may be most well-known for its live music and food, but it’s also an excellent location for bicyclists. Whether you’re in East Austin, north of the city limits, or right in the downtown, getting on a bike trail is easy. Take the Southern Walnut Creek Trail on the east side of Austin, hit the southerly located Veloway, or head north to the Brushy Creek Regional Trail. Best of all, you don’t even have to leave the city of Austin if you want to get on your bike. Just head over to the Lady Bird Bike Trail, Barton Springs, or Zilker Park for a quick jaunt in nature while still within the city limits.
Looking for other ways to stay outdoors and explore Austin? At ATX Guides, we’ve got you covered. Check out our guide on the best hiking in Austin and trails nearby if you want to keep moving. You’ll also find advice on the best outdoor patios and rooftop bars when you want to soak in the great weather and experience the culinary scene.