Austin Trail Running

Austin is a hotbed of trail running, considered by many to be one of the top cities for trail running in the country. You can run on trails all year long, anything from mild singletrack through a pine forest to running up and down rocky limestone cliffs until your thighs burn. There are several trail races in Austin, most put on by Rogue Running in the spring Rogue Trail Series (the MAZE at Walnut Creek, the LOOP at Emma Long, and the RANCH at Reveille Peak Ranch an hour out of town).

Most trail races in Central Texas are on trails about an hour or an hour and a half outside of Austin, including the Captain Karl's Night Race series in the summer, the Hells Hills and Wild Hare trail races east of Austin, and the fall Rogue Trail Series.

The Hill Country Trail Runners organize club runs on the Barton Creek and Bull Creek greenbelts on weekdays and weekends - if you'd like to learn the trails, you should definitely join this group on one of their no-drop runs where no one is left behind and everyone waits at each trail intersection.

Popular trails for running long distances are the Barton Creek Greenbelt just southwest of downtown (14 mile round trip), Walnut Creek in North Austin (11 mile blue loop), McKinney Roughs southeast of town (18 miles of trails), and Bastrop State Park (past McKinney Roughs) with a 12 mile loop if you do all of the spokes.

For running shorter distances, you can use any of those parks, but other popular places include the River Place Nature Trails for a six mile hilly stair workout/run, Bull Creek Greenbelt for a four mile flat run, St. Edwards Park for a 2 mile, all hills workout, or McKinney Falls State Park for a friendly 3 mile loop.

Trails: 

Barton Creek Greenbelt

8 miles of single track wind through the lush Barton Creek canyon from Zilker Park to the Hill of Life. Lots of stream crossings if the water is up.

8.00miles

Bull Creek Greenbelt

A shorter version of the Barton Creek Greenbelt, with 2.5 miles of hiking or mountain biking. Lots of creek crossings make this a great trail for warmer weather. The trail can be difficult to follow, as the signs get washed out by the creek frequently. Generally speaking, it runs along the creek, but crosses the creek several times. It also runs along both sides of the creek in some places, making it difficult to follow.

2.50miles

Walnut Creek Trails

Walnut Creek Metro Park has about 11 miles of singletrack trails that are mostly shaded, pretty smooth, and make for a great mountain bike ride for beginner to intermediate mountain bikers. Follow the blue blazes on the sign posts for an 11 mile loop that takes you through almost all of the park.

Find a trail map at http://www.austinridgeriders.com/documents/Walnut%20Creek%20Metro%20Park_Kiosk.pdf from the Austin Ridge Riders.

11.00miles

River Place Nature Trails

The River Place Nature Trail is one of the newest, most scenic, and best maintained trails in Austin. The trail follows Panther Hollow Creek in a small canyon beneath the River Place development. In a 6 mile round trip, the trail gains (and loses) about 500 feet in elevation. All that elevation is gained or lost on natural surface stairways built into the hills. All along the trail, you'll get quiet glimpses of typical Balcones Canyonland vistas, although you'll always see some kind of building or structure.

3.50miles
425feet
512feet
931feet

Slaughter Creek Trail

Slaughter Creek Trail in Southwest Austin is a new trail for mountain bikers, hikers, runners, and horses. The trail is a five-mile loop that you follow one way for horses and hikers, with the other way for mountain bikers, so user conflict is minimized. There are no extreme vertical changes - it is a very runnable, very bikeable trail.

5.00miles

Circle C Ranch Metropolitan Park on Slaughter Creek

Description: 

Circle C Metropolitan Park on Slaughter Creek is a City of Austin park along Mopac (Loop 1) by Slaughter and La Crosse in far southwest Austin. The main section of the park is along Slaughter Lane west of Escarpment, although the park continues east of Escarpment, across Mopac, all the way to Bowie high school.

The main features of the park at Slaughter and Escarpment are a huge soccer complex, a disc golf course, 4 or 5 miles of trails, and a playground.

The trails in this park are great for jogging or walking your dog, but don't really work for mountain biking. They only get interesting where they criss-cross the disc golf course - it's easy to get lost here, becuase the singletrack is basically the eroded paths of the disc golfers. There are a few nice stretches of single track on the west side of the park, but it never really flows together.

The park also includes the Veloway, although the Veloway isn't connected to anything else in the park, by design.

Rock Shelter Trail

The Rock Shelter Trail in McKinney Falls State Park is a nice short trail that leads along the top of the banks of Onion Creek to a rock overhang that Native Americans used for shelter. It's open for hiking only, but you can use it to connect the Homestead Trail with the Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail. If you're on a bike, use the road instead, it parallels this trail.

There are also a few bouldering spots along this trail, so look down from the trail to the creek - you may see some rock climbers,

1.00miles

Homestead Trail

The Homestead Trail in McKinney Falls State Park is the best trail in the park for hiking and mountain biking - at three miles long, it is not too long, but it is a lot of fun.

3.00miles

Turkey Creek Nature Trail

The Turkey Creek off-leash dog nature trail is a real gem for dog owners and their canine companions who like to hike, run, swim, and play with other dogs off-leash. The hike itself is great, with lots of improvements in recent years. There are about 10 stream crossings, all of which have rocks or steps to cross at. The dogs can play in the swimming holes along the way.

2.50miles

McKinney Roughs

Description: 

McKinney Roughs Nature Park is often overlooked as a hiking or trail running destination - it's about half an hour from downtown Austin, on the way to the much more heavily used Bastrop State Park. This means that you may have the trails to yourself, especially on a weekday.

The downside of McKinnney Roughs is the horse traffic - although many of the trails are only for hikers (dogs are ok), most of the 18-mile trail system was built for equestrian use. This means there's lots of horse leavings on those trails, making it a little gross to run on. The trails also get muddy after rains, and some areas aren't well shaded. None of this should scare you away from the park though - the most scenic trails don't allow horses!

Where can I get a running event schedule?: 

The HCTR event calendar has a good listing of trail races. Trail-Race has trail races from all over the country.

Everything Joe and Joyce Prusaitis at Tejas Trails do is top notch and drivable from Austin. They don't have any events within Austin city limits, but their races will be filled with Austin trail runners.

Trail Races: 

Race to the Altar Trail Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K

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Sat, 2011-03-19

Ready for the first wedding-themed marathon? Jeff Linwood and Cheri Woldt (who run this web site) are getting married in March 2011, and they want to celebrate by throwing a trail marathon the day before their wedding. The trail is easy, forgiving singletrack, perfect for first-time trail runners and walkers.

Race Types: 
Running race
5K
Half Marathon
Marathon
Trail Run

Captain Karls SHOE 10K, 30K, 60K Trail Race

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Sat, 2011-08-27

The final race in the Captain Karls trail run series in 2011 is the SHOE, held out at Muleshoe Bend on Lake Travis. The 10K is held in the morning at 8am, and the 30K and 60K distances are held at night at 7pm. 60K runners have until 7am the next morning to finish their 37 mile race.

Race Types: 
Running race
10K
Other long
Other Ultramarathon
Trail Run
Night Run
Lengths: 
6.00miles
18.60miles
37.20miles

Emma's Revenge Trail Run and Mountain Bike Race

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Sat, 2010-08-21

Three different events on the same day at Emma Long City Park, there is a 5K and an 11 mile trail run (short, probably more like 9-10 miles), and a 16-mile mountain bike race. These are held on the trails used for the Pure Austin XTERRA Austin Triathlon the next day. The run is held on a trail system on top of the bluffs overlooking Lake Austin, and going up and down the cliff is pretty tricky - the organizers put up a rope for runners to use.

Race Types: 
Running race
5K
10 Mile
Trail Run
Mountain bike race

Cactus Rose 100 and 50 Mile Race

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Sat, 2011-10-29

Cactus Rose is put on by Joe and Joyce Prusatis of Tejas Trails out at Hill Country State Natural Area in Bandera, Texas, northwest of San Antonio.

New for 2011 - Cactus Rose has a 4-person, 100 mile relay!

The race has aid stations, but you are responsible for providing everything you need except ice and water. There won't be any volunteers at the aid stations unless you bring a crew. Anything you need to eat, any sports drink or supplements, you will need to drop them off at the aid stations before the race.

Race Types: 
Running race
50 Mile Ultramarathon
100 Mile Ultramarathon
Trail Run

Hells Hills

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Sat, 2011-04-02

Hells Hills 50 used to be known as the Rocky Hill Ranch 50, after the private mountain bike ranch the race is held on. Because the race is run on mountain bike trails, it's a lot of fun to run there. The course is almost all singletrack, and most of it is shaded with pine trees.

Race Types: 
Running race
10K
25K
50K Ultramarathon
50 Mile Ultramarathon
Trail Run

Captain KARLS The Falls 60K 30K 10K

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Sat, 2011-08-06
Race Types: 
Running race
10K
30K
60K Ultramarathon
Trail Run
Night Run

Captain KARLS The Lake 60K 30K

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Sat, 2011-07-16
Race Types: 
Running race
30K
60K Ultramarathon
Trail Run
Night Run

Run Like the Wind

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Sat, 2011-12-03
Race Types: 
Running race
Other Ultramarathon
Timed Run
Trail Run

El Sendero Endurance Trail Race

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Sat, 2011-12-10

Rogue Running put on the Ranch 10K and 30K in 2011 out at Reveille Peak Ranch, and now they are planning to put on a 25K, 50K, and 50 mile ultramarathon in December at the same race venue. There were some course control issues at the Ranch 30K that hopefully won't be an issue this time, as it looks like all races share the same course loop.

Race Types: 
Running race
25K
50K Ultramarathon
50 Mile Ultramarathon
Trail Run
Trail Running Clubs: 

Hill Country Trail Runners

The Hill Country Trail Runners (HCTR) are Austin and San Antonio's trail running club. Members are located all over Texas and the rest of the country, but the club meets in Austin and club runs are generally on Austin trails. The club has hundreds of members, and club runs every Wednesday evening at the Hill of Life entrance to the Barton Creek Greenbelt and Sunday mornings at the Dog Park parking lot of the Bull Creek Greenbelt

Location: 
Austin, TX
Trail Running Groups and Coaches: 

Tejas Trails

Tejas Trails is run by Joe Prusatis, a great trail runner who has finished some of the toughest ultramarathons in the country, including the Badwater 135 mile run in Death Valley, the Western States 100 miler in California, and the Hardrock 100 miler in Colorado 7 times.

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