Barton Creek Greenbelt

Texas

Barton Creek Greenbelt Facts

States: Texas
Counties: Travis
Length: 7.9 miles
Trail end points: Wm. Barton Dr. at Zilker Park and Camp Craft Rd. at Barton Creek Park (Austin)
Trail surfaces: Dirt
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 6032253
Trail activities: Bike, Fishing, Mountain Biking, Walking

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Barton Creek Greenbelt Description

Barton Creek Greenbelt is one of Austin's most popular trails, which runs for nearly 8 miles through Barton Creek Wilderness Park southwest of the city. The trail, flanked in places with rock walls, follows the course of its namesake creek through lush greenery. At the east end, Zilker Park features dinosaurs hiding among the botanical gardens. In summer take a plunge into a refreshing swimming hole. During high water in the spring, water tumbles over low fall.

From the Barton Creek Greenbelt you can access footpaths into the hills but cyclists must remain on the main greenbelt corridor. The trail is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Parking and Trail Access

The main access point for the Barton Creek Greenbelt is Loop 360 (3755-B Capital of Texas Highway), located in the center of the trail. Parking is available along the highway.

Additional parking is available on the east end of the trail at Zilker Park (2100 Barton Springs Road).



Barton Creek Greenbelt Reviews

We love this trail, and there are so many sections and access points with great diversity. This is one of 39 Greenbelt areas managed by Austin Parks and Recreation [Greenbelt is defined as parkland along a creek or canyon]. Our friends call it the “crown jewel” of Austin, and now that we've explored it, we heartily agree. The full greenbelt area is 1,937 acres and if you walk the full trail, it is a 7.9 mile trek. All along the trail in this amazing nature reserve you'll find wild energy, yet it is so easily accessible and near the heart of the city. We wandered along on a spring weekday and felt the wonderful sense of isolation. Views include sheer limestone cliffs, dense, lush and mostly untamed vegetation plus dozens of natural swimming holes and waterfalls [when the water is flowing]. Most of the upper trail section from Zilker Park to the Hwy 360 access point was hard packed dirt or rock-studded. Easy to moderate for hikers, yet there are some challenges for bicyclists through some intense rock garden areas. In addition to the main trail, there are numerous "back trails" that have been built over the years -- mainly for mountain bikers. It is primarily gently sloping cutback trails, and most of it is wooded so it stays cooler Following the recommendation of locals, we remembered to pack in all the water/ liquids we'd need. There are no sources of potable water until you reach Zilker Park at the north end of this upper trail segment. You can enter at several access points, hike upstream or down, go for as long as you feel like and discover for yourself which part you love the best.

We hiked the entire length of the Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail--and back--on July 4, 2008. Two in our party were completing their requirements for the BSA hiking merit badge and Eagle rank, which calls for a 20-mile hike in one day. Point to point, the Barton Creek Trail is about 15 miles, but with some added walking in Zilker Park, and a sidetrail we managed to log 20. (Except for the Zilker park mileage, none of the trail is paved.) The weather was better than expected, with the high reaching only into the mid-90s (could be worse!) and a bit of a breeze. We started at 8:15 a.m and ended at about 6:30 p.m., with a long break for lunch. Most of the trail is well shaded by the canopy near the creek, and remained 10-15 degrees cooler than if we had been in the sun. Still, remember to pack all the water/Gatorade you will need as we saw no sources of potable water until we reached Zilker. Very little water was running in the creek: mostly none at all, but at a couple of places the springs created enough of a pool to attract swimmers. Many trail bikers and other hikers (almost all with their dogs!) were out on this holiday weekend, including families with young children. We saw three groups of rock climbers on the cliffs beside the trail. Our route began at the northernmost access point, in a neighborhood off Loop 360/Capital of Texas Hwy. There is no designated parking at this access point, only street parking in the neighborhood--bless those patient homeowners! The path down to the creek from the access road is fairly steep and rocky, which we found a challenge to climb on the return leg. Our halfway point was in Zilker Park, at the Barton Springs Pool. There are restroom facilities there and it made a good lunch spot. (We had left a car there with a cooler for lunch). All in all, a very good hike. Only when you are directly under the 360 bridge or the MoPac/Hwy 1 bridge do you have any sense that you are in the city. It is quite remote and the closets and best wilderness getaway in Central Texas.

"We visited Texas in September 2001 and joined the trail at Barton Creek in Zilker Park. It is a beautiful area. The ride is linked to the City Lake Bike/Hike Trail and it seemed the trail was long, crossing over the river under road bridges and overpasses offering parking to those who know the area. The trail was marked with mile markers. The surface for the most part is paved. We enjoyed it and also the dip in Barton Spring to cool down. I highly recommend it."

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