Skirting around the edges of Lady Bird Lake, the Butler Hike and Bike Trail is urban Austin’s crown jewel for fitness enthusiasts, families, and training athletes. With plenty of shade from tall lakeside trees and an impressive bird population around the lake, the trail provides an accessible, scenic escape from the hustle of downtown, while still providing beautiful views of the Austin city skyline.
What Makes It Great
The trail ranges from 8-20 feet in width and its surface is primarily crushed granite with a few short concrete sections – perfect for running, walking, or biking. Terrain is flat with some small hills, and there are markers for every quarter mile. There are options from 1 up to 10 mile routes on the trail.
Who is Going to Love It
The trail is most crowded in the Spring and summer on warm days and especially weekend mornings after 9 am. Walkers, runners, kayakers, fishermen, dogs, and bikers all use this trail and lake for their adventures. If you want to avoid the masses of joggers, bikers, and families, then get an early start around 7am. You will find just about everyone in town here during spring and summer days.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Amenities include bathrooms, water fountains, and showerheads at various intervals along the trail. The Town Lake Trail Foundation has an interactive map that will tell you all you need to know. However, the most popular access points are Auditorium Shores and "The Rock" under the MOPAC freeway overpass and surrounding streets. Other access may be found almost anywhere around Lady Bird Lake. See link to map for trail loops and distances – loops range from 1-10 miles. Support The Trail Foundation! There are pedestrian bridges at Lamar, Congress, 1st st, I 35, and under Mopac to give options for loop distances.
One recent addition has brought more users of the trail to the east side of Austin. In 2014 The Town Lake Trail Foundation funded a big portion of the Boardwalk addition. The creation of the boardwalk allowed runners to avoid the busy road intersection at Riverside and I 35 service road. The boardwalk extends above the lake for nearly a mile stretch, but connects back to land occasionally where land access/use was granted for the construction of the extension. This was significant because it tied together East and West Austin which has been somewhat segregated for many years. In the 1920's-1930's the city proposed legislation that kept all services focused towards African Americans to East Austin mainly between 12th and 18th streets, while the Mexican American population was kept just south between 6th and Cesar Chavez. The trail offers fantastic views of the Austin skyline.