Have you ever stopped to ponder for a second just how much work goes into maintaining the beautiful outdoor spaces we enjoy in our communities?
Somebody is picking up the trash, mowing the grass and maintaining the plants just about anywhere we could possibly go. Until a recent walk around one of Austin’s most beautiful places, I had hardly given that a thought.
In fact, as I was mulling this over, our September issue of Austin Monthly arrived, and I discovered that the publisher and I are both on the same page, so to speak. Mr. Gaultney says, “…preserving our city’s natural beauty requires considerable effort on the part of dedicated individuals. It is not something the rest of us should simply take for granted.”
The Ann and Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake is a 10-mile result of the effort of two Austin women who were friends and forward thinkers. On a trip to London in 1971, as Ann Butler and Lady Bird Johnson stood together admiring a portion of the beautiful Thames Path, they wondered if something similar could be accomplished in Austin.
It could – it was – and today, because of the vision of two friends, over 30,000 “feet” enjoy this beautiful spot every single day.
Next time you come to Austin for a conference or convention, be sure to bring your walking shoes and enjoy the trail. If you’ve lived here for a long time and haven’t ventured down to the trail in a while, grab a friend and plan a nice long walk together, as the leaves begin to change and fall from the trees.
Oh, did I just say “fall”?! That means you can enjoy a pumpkin spice latte at a nearby Starbucks after your walk. Who knows what the two of you might dream up to accomplish after you’ve cleared your brains and enjoyed a little pumpkin spice together!
In addition to the parking and access point information you can find here, the following is my list of 15 things you need to know before you go.
1. Don’t be too ambitious. If you’re not really prepared for at least 7 miles and a couple of hours, plan a shorter version.
2.The trail is well-maintained. There are no hills or big rocks to trip over.
3. Bicycles go pretty fast on the trail – with very little space between you and them. Some will give voice to a warning, like, “On your left,” but not all. It’s best to just stay far right and walk single file where you can.
4. Make sure your phone is fully charged. You’ll probably want to take a few photos.
5. Walk or run – your choice.
6. Use an app on your phone to track your steps, distance, calories, time, or all of the above.
7. Only take the grandkids a little ways down the trail and then head back. Many zealous families make the mistake of going too far and wind up carrying a hot, sweaty, tearful little one the rest of the way.
8. Dogs are welcome, but you will need to clean up after them. I personally would not take our granddogs because of the bikes that whiz by so fast. You would have to hold the leash tight and close.
9. Carry a water bottle. There are water fountains around the trail, but they’re far apart, so fill your bottle when you find them, but don’t plan on relying on them alone. Dogs can get a drink at the base of the fountains, but you might also bring a folding bowl in case Rover gets thirsty between fountain stops.
10. There’s no place to buy refreshments on the trail.
11. In case of emergency – I’m sure there are ways to get off the trail and call a cab or use an app on your phone to get a ride should you or one in your party have an incident of some kind that requires help; however, places to exit the trail don’t seem very apparent. Therefore, if you’re not familiar, treat your walk around the water like you would any other lengthy hike, taking your own fitness level into account and not overestimating your stamina, especially in the end-of-summer heat. Know your limits and those of the people who go with you.
12. Wear sunscreen if jogging or biking; add a hat if walking.
13. Take earphones and listen to a motivating podcast or walking music.
14. Know that you might see some Austin weirdness. In fact, it’s highly likely! Someone may be jogging in western boots, or you might have the opportunity to join in with a group of fun and uninhibited dance walkers!
15. Enjoy the beauty. Some dedicated individuals have worked to keep it pretty for us.
So, there you have it. I’m glad God created beautiful spaces and places for us to enjoy – and I’m so grateful for the people who keep them that way.
Encouraging intentional adventure on a bike or on foot,