McKinney Roughs is a great option just outside of Austin. The trails are different from much of the hill country trails with taller pine trees and more granite instead of limestone. Because this trail is made for horses, it is wide and less technical. This is great for those looking for a beginner friendly course. It is well marked as well, so with this above map you should be set to run on your own. This is not a great trail to run after recent rains. The Riverside trail turns especially muddy and is not fun. There is a small entrance day fee. You can start at either the Pope Bend Trail Head or at the Headquarters. By combining most of these trails you can get 15+ miles of trail.
This is a fun and challenging 10k trail loop. The trail is mostly single track with a few wider sections. It is pretty challenging and technical. There are lots of ledges and sharp drops and climbs. There are no long climbs, but the repetitive up and downs wear you down after a loop or two. The trail is marked with signs on trees that say "main loop" which can be easy identified. This is the 5.5 mile loop. To get the rest of the 10k loop you have to cross the parking lot and add on the 1/2 + mile of trail that starts just on the south side of the bathroom.
Best breakfast option post run: Ski Shores located on Lake Austin! Great for post run tacos and beer! Located 5 minutes from the trailhead. Ski Shores is closed for the winter months.
***Note- This park is a motocross course and closed to hikers and runners unless otherwise specified. Most dirt bikes and mountain bikers don't get out to the course until about 9 am though, so if you are off the trail by 8:30 or 9 you typically don't see many people.
I stumbled onto this trail a few years ago on a long run with some friends. It is great for those that live on the Eastside! The one way I have found to access it is along the gas pipeline on Tannehill Dr just North of 969/East MLK.
The trail follows the pipeline for just under 1 mile and then you have the option to move onto single track or stay on the pipeline trail. If you look at the map and see the straight line, that is the pipeline. There is a flat jeep road that parallels the pipeline that is where you run.
The rest of the trail winds through the cedar trees and has a few short but steep climbs. It can be a bit confusing because there are many intersections that look similar. I used the tin box (see slide show) as a point of reference at one of the intersections.
I am not sure if I would recommend running alone out here. There are what appears to be a few homeless camps set up within the woods. I didn't see anyone, but I would at least take your dog. You can see from the slide show that parts of this trail have been turned into a dump, but the majority of the trail is nice.
Overall it is a great option for those that live on the Eastside and want to be able to hit up single track starting from your house. Length is about 4 miles without overlapping.
This trail starts at 6701 Lakewood Dr in West Austin. The parking lot is across the creek from the trail so be prepared to cross it! It is typically only ankle deep. This route has one of the steepest (only about 100 meters long) climbs in Austin and most people have to walk or scramble up. Once to the top of the hill you take a left and that takes you out on the rest of the trail system. This is completely single track and parts are windy. This trail follows along 360 highway and offers many scenic overlooks of the Hill Country. This course is not marked by the city though so join us for a guided run! This route is challenging based on the rocky and steep climbs.
Good for all levels, especially moderate to experienced trail runners.
Large parking lots and public restrooms at the Barton Springs Pool and 360 Bridge access points. Street parking by the Hill of Life access.
The heart of trail running in Austin– the Greenbelt has numerous access points, the most used being those at the Barton Springs Pool, the 360 Access point, and the Hill of Life. With a ~7 mile long trail offering numerous branching trails, the Greenbelt is great for runners of all levels.
Up to 11 miles on intermediate loop. Most intersections offer arrows on the fastest route back to the parking lot so if you are looking to get lost for a bit you can and not be worried about finding your way back home.
Perfect for beginners, but still enjoyable for experienced trail runners.
Large parking lot, bathrooms or port-a-john, swimming pool during the summer.
This is a very popular trail in Austin because of its central/north central location and moderate difficulty. Many mountain bikers and trail runners both use this trail system. This is a perfect option for someone looking to test out trail running as the trails are fairly flat and not nearly as rocky as Austin's western trails such as the Barton Creek Greenbelt. You will have sections with lots of roots though, so beware! Also, keep in mind that these trails probably should be avoided during rain. The mud cakes up nicely on your shoes and is not fun to run on.
This trail starts in Travis Country at 3904 Travis Country Cir. There is not a specific trailhead, but only a crushed granite path that comes out of the woods on the North side of the street. This 5 mi loop has a mixture of jeep road and single track. This route also offers plenty of hills and a few water crossing, so be warned! This trail is not marked or maintained by the city for the exception of the mile long stretch along the creek. This course is rated 3.5/6 based on elevation change and technicality.
"Dump Truck" is a challenging route that has one main climb depending on the way you run. Run down Hill of life and connect onto the "main trail". Head south until you pass the trail mile marker 5.75 and then you will take a left turn uphill. This trail winds its way up and can be muddy when raining. You will arrive up to a gravel jeep road for a short .25 mile stretch that leads you out to a neighborhood road where you take a left. You run .25m mile on the road to the community mail boxes and the trail reconnects behind them. Run about 50 meters and you will take your next left. If you stay straight you will run into a dead-end where you will find the old dump truck. This next section is a pretty single track stretch where you have the best scenic overlook on the trail. Once you pass the overlook you are just a short .5 mile to the finish.
This is a great loop if you want to get a mix of single track, hill work, and flat running. The start is from the 360 access and stays flat until you hit the turn off from to Gaines Greenbelt. Just after the turn off to Gaines, take your 2nd left that heads straight up for a .25 mile hill. It is an out and back only, but is just over a mile from the start and great for some quick hill work. It also offers pretty good views. You can bypass this hill and continue onto the "Sweet 16" trail which eventually spits you out into Travis Country. Instead of going under Mopac to finish "Sweet 16" this route however turns onto a 1 mile windy single track loop filled with short and steep hills. I loop around to connect back to the "Sweet 16" trail and head back towards the 360 Access.
This Austin trail is a 7 mile lolly pop loop loop. The access point we used was 360 access. To start you head west of left on the main trail from 360 access. You never have to cross Barton Creek and run up the west side of the trail under 360 bridge and then under the Mopac bridge. This part of the trail is all fairly flat. You will take a sharp left hand turn at 2 miles out from 360 access which is just at the 5.5 mile marker of the trail. This begins the "Rattlesnake" portion.
You gain about 125 ft over the next 1/3 mile. This part of the trail can be tricky with a few turn offs. The trail is very rocky and when the leaves cover the trail is can be difficult to find the path. You take a right hand turn at 2.66 miles. You will be up in a field and the turn off can be hard to see. From here on out you take all the right hand turns possible.
There is a sneaky turn at 3.66 as well, so keep your eyes open. Then at 4.35 mile you take a right hand turn at the T intersection and that drops you down into a creek bed (picture to left). Take the creek bed down about 50 meters down and it will connect you to the main trail. If you head left the trail dead ends in about 100 meters at the "Back Door Spring". It is drinkable spring water! To head back to the trailhead you take a right from the creek bed and head back to the 360 access.
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