This is a scenic and challenging run favorited by many Austin runners (and bikers) that you won't want to miss. Enjoy views of Lake Austin along the run as well as some of Austin's most beautiful and hilly neighborhoods.
Hugging the east banks of Lake Austin, this road run will take you along Scenic Drive to the highest point in Austin- Mt. Bonnell- at 775ft. Scenic Drive is aptly named because it snakes through a neighborhood of beautiful lake houses and presents views of the water and hills along the west bank.
What Makes It Great
While relatively short, the challenging climb to the Mt. Bonnell has produced plenty of lactic acid in the legs of runners and cyclists. However, the view from the top is worth it all! At the top of the climb a staircase on the left will take you to the overlook park with the best views of Lake Austin. If you’re not feeling quite like Rocky Balboa when you come to the staircase and would rather take a less severe route to the vantage point, there is a trail further down the road on the left. Return via Balcones road to save the legs with a less intense downhill grade. Though there is little traffic on this route, be mindful of cars as most of the streets do not have sidewalks. Many marathon running groups use Mt Bonnell as part of their training routine. It is one of the most challenging and steepest hill climbs in central Austin.
Be cautious when running this hill during rush hour because of the turns and elevation change runners can be hard to see. The roads are fairly wide, but still Austin traffic gets drivers edgy and driving wild!
Who is Going to Love It
The Scenic Hill is a very popular route to run at nearly 800 meters from top to bottom. Professional, Collegiate, and just about all runners use this route to get in their hill work. This route gets especially crowded in the fall as the hardest 10 miler race in Austin, Run for the Water, heads straight through Scenic Dr. Most Austin runners start their intervals at the bottom of the hill. Be cautious around the sharp turns, as I have been nearly hit by drivers and other runners multiple times near the intersection of Scenic and Mathews dr.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Park under the Mopac bridge along Veterans Dr for the 10 miler. For the 6.3 miler park in the dirt lot across from Mozart’s/Hula Hut lakeside restaurants. Be sure to stop by Mozart’s before or after for some of Austin’s finest coffee!