This stress-free cycling and rollerblading gem in Southwest Austin is a refreshing breather from the traffic and crowds, hills and potholes along other urban routes.
With a 3.1-mile loop (and shorter options), the wide and smoothly paved asphalt Veloway is built specifically for bicycles and rollerblades - who each comprise about half its users. Motorized vehicles and pedestrians are prohibited - leaving the roadway clear for cyclists and bladers of all levels to hone their skills.
This tree-lined, 23-foot wide course is a tribute to Hill County cycling just a few miles south of downtown Austin.
What Makes It Great
The beauty of the Veloway is in its simplicity and focus.
With no stop signs, parked cars, traffic lights, or even traffic, riders can focus their attention on form, on speed, and on control - no distracting traffic control measures to, well, control you.
Tucked away in the brushy hills of South Austin, on more than 100 acres in the Slaughter Creek Metropolitan Park, the Veloway feels like an escape of sorts, winding through a natural Hill Country setting with native grass and underbrush, and tree cover that shields riders and bladers from the freeway just a few miles away.
The terrain can be characterized as gently rolling, with smooth straightaways that encourage speed training, some rounded turns and mild hills to build strength and balance.
About 2/3 of the way into it a technical challenge appears: A short, sharp turn at the base of a short, sharp hill that delivers a kick to the workout of any level rider.
With a one-way policy and two lanes for different levels of traffic, the Veloway is usually a crowd-free cruise, at any pace. Rarely are there so many riders and skaters as to hinder the ride.
Who is Going to Love It
Nature lovers with a need for quiet focus will find their place here. On nice days and at dawn or dusk, it’s not uncommon to see wildlife hanging out in the trees - deer, squirrels, roadrunners.
In the springtime, riders and skaters can catch a great view of the wildflowers - including the iconic Texas bluebonnets.
Across the street, the Lady Bird Wildlife Center delivers a nice side note for taking a break after a hard ride.
The roadway is comfortable for experienced kids on bikes as well as racing cyclists looking to practice sprints.
Cyclocrossers will be disappointed, though. As cool as the native foliage is, and as enticing, there is a strict rule: Stay on the pavement.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Parking is a free, a dirt-covered section near the entrance, which includes a map and describes various points along the path. The park is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., closes if there’s too much rain, and offers plenty of free parking. No admission for riders or skaters is required, either.
Pedestrians, motorists, and dogs are not allowed. As for ages or levels, the park stipulates that children be able to ride without a parent walking alongside them - otherwise, even training wheels are allowed for the least experienced.