Archive for the ‘Outdoor Activities’ Category

Some scenic spots in Austin

Friday, November 18th, 2011
Austin from Barton Point

Austin from Barton Point

Austin is notable for having so many parks scattered throughout the city.  One blog entry here could never cover all the parks and trails, so I’ll highlight the few I’ve already discovered. Flora and fauna will be covered elsewhere.

 

Downtown Austin has a number of interconnected parks surrounding Lady Bird Lake (formerly known as  the Town Lake), as well as connecting trails to other nearby recreational parks.  The varied themes of these parks  provide a wide scope of activities for everyone.  Over 97% of Lady Bird Trail is less than 8% grade giving opportunities for individuals with disabilities to experience these recreational areas.

 

West of Austin is Mount Bonnell rising about 780 feet above sea level.  This vista overlooks the Austin Lake portion of the Colorado River.  Imagine my confusion when I first heard it was called Colorado River.  I am very familiar with the Colorado River of Arizona which flows through westward the Grand Canyon.

 

Austin after Dark

Austin after Dark

Mount Bonnell provides an awesome vista on the west side of the Colorado River and a view of downtown in the distance to the east.  After a brisk hike up from the parking area, one can look out over the river from the shelter or along the fence to the north or south.  The area is open until after dusk offering visitors a gorgeous display of beacons from the skyscrapers in the distance.

Western Sunset

Western Sunset

 

My first trip to Austin in June gave me an opportunity to climb Mount Bonnell the first time. However, I didn’t have a camera or a cell phone at the time to record pictures from that event. My second trip to Mount Bonnell was less exhausting than the first, with me climbing 75% of the stairs before my friend said “slow down.” The first time, I made it halfway before I had to stop to catch my breath. I suppose all those trips up and down the stairs to the third story apartment with loads of belongings had something to do with my physical health. It did surprise me that the more physically fit friend that went with me on the second trip was out of breath so soon.

Moon over South Austin

Moon over South Austin

 

The trail on the north side is rugged providing many obstacles to those with disabilities.  I would recommend it only for those who are still agile enough to work their way over rocky and uneven terrain.  There are a few large rocks along the way to rest at and water should be carried along the trail, especially during the hot summer weather.

 

Lady Bird Lake, Longhorn Dam, and Lady Bird Trail. Nearly 11 miles of trail provide bicyclists, walkers and joggers with a workout, and everyone else lots of areas to stroll.  Pets are required to be on leash and stations along the trail provide pet enthusiasts with bags for removal of pet waste.  Lady Bird Trail makes a circuit on both sides of the lake from Longhorn Dam to Mopac & Roberta Crenshaw Bridge.  East of Longhorn Dam the trail connects to Roy G Guerrero Park and the future trails currently under construction.  West and south of Barton Point, the trail connects to Zilker Park and Barton Creek West Greenbelt, which leads to Barton Creek Wilderness Park.

Sunset in Austin

Sunset in Austin

 

Activities along Lady Bird Trail include fishing, baseball, softball, basketball, and more.  Kreig Softball Complex is situated east of South Pleasant Valley Road at the eastern extent of Lady Bird Trail.  Metz Park off of Pedemales Street provides basketball courts and other activities.  More ball parks are available for youth east of Festival Beach.  Festival Beach provides a boat ramp for launching rafts and other light non-motorized watercraft, however swimming is not allowed in the lake.  Paddleboats and other light watercraft can be rented for travel on the lake.

 

The Congress Avenue Bridge Bats. Congress Avenue Bridge has become home to the largest urban bat colony in North America, comprised of 750,000 to 1.5 million bats.  The public viewing area near the Statesman parking lot allows visitors catch a glimpse of the colony of Mexican free-tailed bats as it leaves each night at sunset to feed on local insects.  A better view might be found from the bridge or from a boat on the river.

Congress Ave Bridge Bats

Congress Ave Bridge Bats

 

Here are additional links for further information about the Congress Avenue Bridge Bats:

Congress Bridge Bats on Videocity.com

Congress Bridge Bats on Yelp.com

 

I will include more on the Lady Bird Trail in the future.