Take a Hike

Austin's oldest hike-and-bike trail charts new course from downtown to the Domain

Austin hike-and-bike trail charts new course from downtown to Domain

Shoal Creek Hike and Bike Trail
Under this new plan, Shoal Creek Trail would expand from 3.9 miles to 13 miles. Shoal Creek Conservancy/Facebook
Austin Urban Trail Master plan
Austin's proposed urban trail network.  Courtesy of Shoal Creek Conservancy
Shoal Creek Hike and Bike Trail
Austin Urban Trail Master plan

Have you ever been hanging out near Lady Bird Lake and thought, "I wish I could walk to the Domain." We haven't either, but with Shoal Creek's new trail improvement plan, that previously unrealized dream is one step closer to becoming a reality. 

On November 8, the Shoal Creek Conservancy released the Shoal Creek Trail Vision to Action Plan, an ambitious new blueprint that reshapes Austin's oldest hike-and-bike trail, currently clocking in at 3.9 miles, into a 13-mile continuous path from downtown through Central Austin and north to the Domain.

The plan, which was funded by private donations, is the result of a year of planning, community input, and work alongside city-led organizations including the City of Austin's Public Works Department, Watershed Protection, Parks and Recreation Department, and Transportation Department.

"We've created a roadmap for the future of the Shoal Creek Trail, which is a critical recreation and alternative transportation corridor in Austin," said Joanna Wolaver, executive director of Shoal Creek Conservancy, in a release. "As our city continues to grow, Austinites increasingly want practical alternative transportation options and green places of respite."

Currently, Shoal Creek Trail begins at Lady Bird Lake and zigzags through downtown. At 12th Street, it enters Pease Park where it runs the length of the park before ending at 38th Street. The new plan would expand the trail past 38th Street to the Shoal Creek watershed north of Highway 183.

Once complete, the trail would span 13 miles, and connect North Austin destinations such as the Domain and Pickle Research Center to the University of Texas and downtown. 

The trail would also join Austin's visionary urban trail network, a series of interconnected trails that will eventually encircle downtown Austin via a 5-mile loop. That downtown loop is part of an even bigger trail network spanning 30 miles and connecting the Walnut Creek Trail to the north with the Violet Crown Trail to the south. (These trails are sort of like those Russian nesting dolls, but with green space.)

To begin, the Conservancy will tackle "priority projects" suggested by the community over the past year, and make improvements to the current trail system. So when can Austinites expect to stroll from downtown to the Domain? With no timeline officially mapped out, we wouldn't put on our hiking boots just yet.