14 Places To Go Trail Running In Austin

Austin is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the Texas Hill Country, which means there are some awesome places to go trail running in Austin. We’ll include a map of the best trail runs in Austin below for you to browse. 

Folks who are interested in trail running tend to get SUPER obsessed with it. It's fun for a few reasons: first, it’s just a great way to escape the concrete jungle and immerse yourself in nature. (Psst: Austin has a lot of natural beauty!!) Running on dirt is a bit easier on your joints, especially compared to asphalt. And finally, the challenge of jumping over roots, splashing across creeks, and running over hilly areas provides a nice mental engagement. It feels like a different sport than road running. 

Shoal Creek Greenbelt Running Trail in Austin

Whether you’re a seasoned runner and you just need a good running trail in Austin, or you’re new to trail running and hoping to try a short walk/job situation, there’s a trail here for you. 

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14 Places To Go Trail Running In Austin

1. Barton Creek Greenbelt

Barton Creek Greenbelt Running Trail
Barton Creek Greenbelt Running Trail

Good for: running or mountain biking in the center of the city. 

Length: 7.25 miles

The Barton Creek Greenbelt is Austin’s largest green space right in the heart of the city. The main trailhead begins at Zilker Park and leads southwest through 7.25 miles of dense foliage, limestone cliffs, and various waterfalls through the greenbelt. There are a few other entrances to the Barton Creek Greenbelt: one on Spyglass, and another underneath the 360/Mopac bridge. 

This trail can be heavily populated by mountain bikers and contains some rough terrain by the Mopac/360 trailhead. But once you get down alongside Barton Creek, it’s easy-going. It’s a great place to trail run in Austin during the summer months because the Barton Creek Greenbelt offers a canopy overhead of shade. 

3755 S Capital of Texas Hwy B, Austin, TX 78704

2. Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail

Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail
Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail

Good for: pick-your-distance running

Length: anywhere from 1 - 10 miles, depending on which route you want to take.  

The hike and bike trail around Lady Bird Lake is a nice family-friendly spot for trail running. Everyone knows about this one, and that’s because it has a downtown location, waterfront views, and entries and exits to near popular locations like Zilker Park and Auditorium Shores. 

The majority of the trail is flat and gentle (5% grade or less), making this the perfect beginner-friendly trail running spot in Austin. The design of the bridged loops provides easy three-, five-, and 10-mile training courses.

820 S Lakeshore Blvd, Austin, TX 78741

3. Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park

Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park

Good for: weekday running (it gets crowded on the weekends)

Length: anywhere from 1-8 miles

Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park in north Austin is great for beginner trail runners and can be tailored for both short and long distances. One of the best parts about this park is that they offer ample parking and several side trails to explore. 

The running trails at Walnut Creek are relatively smooth, but trail runners should be cautious of tree roots, cyclists, and lots of off-leash dogs (which the park allows).

WEBSITE | 12138 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753

4. Bull Creek Greenbelt

Bull Creek

Good for: north Austin trail running

Length: 4 miles out-and-back

The Bull Creek Greenbelt is a gem in Austin. Although it runs adjacent to the Mopac expressway, the canopy shade and running water make it feel like you’re far away in nature. There are some water crossings and a few hills; proper trail running shoes are recommended. 

WEBSITE | Bull Creek District Park: 6701 Lakewood Dr, Austin, TX 78731

5. Mayfield Park 

Mayfield Park

Good for: beginners who mostly want a relaxing environment 

Length: 1 mile

Mayfield Park is one of the most beloved places in central Austin. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Mayfield Park features a historic cottage, a tranquil setting…and peacocks! 

The trail options are very short…just ½ - 1 mile. But if you’re looking to soak up some nature, lace up your running shoes, and do an easy walk/run in a peaceful setting, Mayfield park is perfect for you. 

WEBSITE | 3505 W 35th St, Austin, TX 78703

6. River Place Nature Trail

River Place Nature Trail

Good for: experienced trail runners who want a change in elevation and multiple staircases

Length: 5.5 out-and-back trail

There aren’t many trails in Austin proper where you can find a REALLY big elevation change, but River Place Nature Trail is one of them! It’s typically crowded on the weekends, but weekday mornings are a good time to do a trial run. 

River Place Nature Trail, when combined, is a total of five and a half miles. That might not sound like much if you’re thinking of road running, but once you start running up all those stairs you’ll think differently. 

8820 Big View Dr, Austin, TX 78730

7. Violet Crown Trail

Violet Crown Trail

Good for: long-distance running

Length: 30 miles (parts of it are still under construction)

The Violet Crown Trail is the most impressive running trail that Austin has to offer. Although parts of it are still under construction, it will eventually be a 30-mile trail that stretches from Zilker Park all the way down to the Lady Bird Wildflower Center, extending even further south into Hays County. This will be the longest trail of its kind in central Texas. 

It covers a large region of Austin, so some areas are smooth and flat, while in other areas the terrain quickly changes to rocky and hilly. Be aware of those changes in pathways and inclines, and pay attention to your surroundings. This is one of those trails where proper footwear is highly recommended; several parts of the trail are uneven, and dry creek crossings can be a little unstable to run on (and will often flood after heavy rain). {Photo source}

WEBSITE | Austin, TX 78749

8. Brushy Creek Trail

Brushy Creek Trail

Good for: paved trails

Length: 7.75 miles

The Brushy Creek Trail is a great paved trail option located in Williamson County (a bit north of Austin.) Although most of this 7.75-mile trail is concrete, there are a few gravel-paved areas. It’s in a tree-shaded and peaceful area, so you get that “I’m-out-in-nature” feel that you want from a trail run. 

Brushy Creek Trail is mostly paved with cement, so it offers adequate biking, running, and walking. {Photo source}

3300 Brushy Creek Rd, Cedar Park, TX 78613

9. Turkey Creek Trail

Turkey Creek Trail

Good for: running with your dog

Length: 2.5 miles 

Turkey Creek is a 2.5-mile out-and-back trail located next to Emma Long Park. It’s a moderately challenging route with some exposed roots, small hills, and rocky terrain. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime, but it’s especially nice during Austin’s cooler spring and fall months.

Turkey Creek Trail is free to access, but Emma Long Park has an entrance fee. Insider tip: if you’re going on a run, get park access afterward and jump in the lake! Emma Long has an amazing beach area and the water is nice and cold. {Photo source}

1401-1711 City Park Rd, Austin, TX 78730

10. Mount Lakeway Trail

Mount Lakeway Trail

Good for: views! 

Length: 4.3 miles out-and-back

This is an amazing trail to run at the end of a long day in the office when you just want to feel ALIVE! The summit offers sweeping views of Lakeway. 

Keep in mind that this trail isn’t marked very well. The best way to run it is to follow the general path of the power lines. {Photo source}

WEBSITE | 113 Trophy Dr, The Hills, TX 78738,

11. Shoal Creek Greenbelt

Shoal Creek Greenbelt Running Trail in Austin

Good for: an alternative option to Lady Bird Lake 

Length: 5.5 miles out-and-back

Shoal Creek Trail is Austin’s oldest trail with multiple trail access points, restrooms, and parking options. The trail’s southern end connects to Lady Bird Lake, making Shoal Creek an excellent alternative if you’re tired of the Hike and Bike Trail. This 5.3 trail meanders along a creek under a canopy of old oak trees, offering Austinites a gorgeous view on their run. 

The Shoal Creek Greenbelt is a skinny 81 acres ribbon that runs through the heart of Austin. This is one of the most beloved running trails in ATX. 

2600 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78705,

12. Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park

Commons Ford Running Trail

Good for: a short run

Length: 2 miles

If you’re looking for a quick morning run, Commons Ford Ranch has an easy 2-mile running trail. It’s mostly shaded, fairly flat, and typically isn’t very crowded. 

Commons Ford is right next to the water, so you can jump in to cool down after your run! The “waterfall trail” might be beautiful after rain, or it might not have much of a waterfall if you’re going during the dry summer months...

WEBSITE |  614 N Commons Ford Rd, Austin, TX 78733

13. McKinney Falls State Park

McKinney Falls State Park

Good for: beautiful running trails in exchange for an entrance fee

Length: 1-7 miles 

McKinney Falls State Park is a truly stunning area in Southeast Austin. It features running trails, waterfalls (depending on the time of year that you visit..), and “Old Baldy,” a 300-year-old bald cypress tree. 

Multiple hiking and running trails vary in difficulty and terrain. Pick the loop from the 10 miles of available trails (the Onion Creek Trail is a popular one.) There is a small entrance fee, but it’s well worth the cost, as this is one of Austin’s hidden gems.

WEBSITE | 5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy, Austin, TX 78744

14. Mary Moore Searight Metropolitan Park

Good for: flat trail runs

Length: 2.1 mile loop

Mary Moore Searight is a beautiful, large space in the middle of South Austin. There’s a nice 2.1-mile loop that runs along the perimeter of the park. There are multiple shorter trails to take, but the loop is your best bet for a long, uninterrupted trail run in Austin.

907 W Slaughter Ln, Austin, TX 78748

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