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Running & Exercise Routes
Pemberton Heights has extremely convenient access to some of the best running and exercise routes within central Austin. Downtown Austin is only a 15 minute bike ride via the Shoal Creek Greenbelt. And now with the pedestrian underpass at 24th street, access to downtown can be made directly without lights or stop signs. Whole Foods is only a 30 minute walk from Pemberton Heights; an additional 10 minutes will get you to Lady Bird Lake. Walking our neighborhood’s streets shaded by the canopy of mature trees is a great way to not only get exercise, but also clear one’s mind. Hartford Park and the Shoal Creek Greenbelt make great destinations for brief outings. Although a little father, west of MoPac also exist some great exercise routes. Scenic Dr. has beautiful views and the Johnson Creek Greenbelt provides access to Lady Bird Lake and Deep Eddy.
The routes below are an attempt to find long, uninterrupted and interconnected stretches within the central/west Austin area. The idea is to show several “base” running routes through the neighborhoods. The routes (loops) may be cut to make for shorter route options or pieced together for even longer routes; both the Shoal Creek and Johnson Creek Greenbelts connect with the Town Lake Trail and Barton Creek Greenbelt systems. In general, the routes west of MoPac have more hills, some of which are quite significant. Exercise caution when crossing under MoPac on Windsor Rd. (becomes 24th St. east of Lamar Blvd.) and Northwood Roads. The primary safety challenges for all these routes are the major road crossings and intersections. However with some planning and creativity, the crossings can be minimized – especially along the greenbelts. Please note that many central Austin streets and some roads lack sidewalks. Where this is the case, special caution is advised. Traffic is not usually too bad except during morning and late afternoon and evening rush hours.
The routes make use of Google maps and are archived at mapmyrun.com. Concerned about Austin’s air quality? The EPA’s “AIRNow” website provides real time air quality reports and quantifies “Ozone Action Day” pollution levels.
TARRYTOWN LOOP – 5.19 miles (clockwise description)
The main challenges running in this area are crossing Windsor, Exposition and Pecos; a longer option includes crossing Enfield and possibly Lake Austin Blvd.;
Rolling hills west of MoPac, along with some occasional sharp rises along Scenic and Pecos, are inviting. Some short, steep hills may be found on streets north of Windsor Rd., west of Pecos;
Distance can be added by going either around Lions Municipal Golf Course or by heading south on Exposition and picking up the Town Lake Trail on Lake Austin Blvd.
BRYKERWOODS/PEMBERTON LOOP – 3.03 miles (clockwise description)
Trail option exists from 29th to 24th Street by making use of the Shoal Creek Greenbelt;
Main challenges are the crossings of 29th Street, Northwood, Jefferson and Harris Blvd.;
There are a few minor rolling hills on Wooldridge Dr.;
Distance and hills can be added by making use of the Shoal Creek Greenbelt (see Shoal Creek Greenbelt Loop description).
SHOAL CREEK GREENBELT LOOP – 4.93 miles (clockwise description)
Trail option exists from 31st Street to Pease Park along Shoal Creek on the west side of Lamar Blvd.;
Main challenges are the crossings of 35th Street and Windsor Rd. (sidewalk option requires crossing 29th and 24th Streets);
There are minor rises along the greenbelt and a significant hill on Kingsbury Street at the back side of Pease Park or Windsor if shorter option taken;
Shorter option may be found by taking Windsor (uphill) – although busy, a sidewalk exists on the eastbound (north) side of street.
HANCOCK LOOP – 4.55 miles (counterclockwise description)
Main challenges are the crossings of 35th and 45th Streets;
Safety note – parts of Shoal Creek Blvd and Bull Creek lack sidewalks;
Bike lanes are on Shoal Creek Blvd.;
Rolling hills on Shoal Creek Blvd. and Hancock;
Distance and hills can be added by continuing west on Hancock (see Balcones Loop description).
BALCONES LOOP – 6.26 miles (counterclockwise description)
Main challenges are the crossings of the 35th, 45th, and Exposition Blvd.;
Safety note – this route travels Shoal Creek Blvd., Balcones and 35th St., some of which lack sidewalks;
Rolling hills on Shoal Creek Blvd., Hancock, Balcones, Exposition Blvd. and Pecos;
Shorter option can include Bull Creek on the outbound route;
Longer option with more hills available west of Balcones (see Mount Bonnell Loop description).
MOUNT BONNELL LOOP – 7.3 miles (clockwise description)
Main challenges are the crossings of Exposition Blvd., Pecos, 35th and 45th Streets;
Traffic can be a problem on Balcones, which lacks sidewalks in some places;
Bike lanes are on Hancock and Bull Creek;
Significant hills on Pecos, Mt Bonnell (the big one), Mt. Barker, Balcones and Hancock;
Longer option can include Shoal Creek Blvd. on the return route (see Shoal Creek Greenbelt Loop description).
JOHNSON CREEK, TOWN LAKE & SHOAL CREEK TRAIL LOOP – 8.35 miles (counterclockwise description)
Main challenges are the crossings of Windsor Blvd. and Enfield Rd. (sidewalk option includes the crossings of 5th, 6th, 24th and 29th Streets); Note – sections of the Shoal Creek Greenbelt Trail downtown may be washed out (closed) if the creek has experienced extensive flooding;
No significant hills other than a few minor hills on the Shoal Creek Greenbelt and a climb up 34th Street to BrykerWoods Elementary;
Both the Shoal Creek and Johnson Creek Greenbelts connect with the Town Lake Trail and Barton Creek Greenbelt systems!
photos courtesy of Pease Park Conservancy
An Introduction: Shoal Creek is in the heart of Austin, Texas. In 1839, it was the city’s original western boundary. Today, it is an artery into its urban core. In recent years, conditions in and around this unique Austin treasure have declined, and we feel restoring and protecting Shoal Creek will make Austin a more vibrant place to live, work and recreate. The Conservancy was formed in 2013 and is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit.
• Trail and park users;
• Business and property owners in the watershed;
• Individuals who work or live in the watershed; and
• The City of Austin and non-profit partner organizations.
Does this describe you? Consider becoming a Conservancy member!
Pease Park Conservancy was formed in 2008, and is dedicated to the rehabilitation, beautification and support of Pease Park, one of Austin’s oldest public parks and iconic greenspaces. Unfolding across 84 acres, Pease Park is a series of connected greenspaces running along Lamar Boulevard from West 15th to West 31st Streets, providing residents and visitors alike with an intimate, yet sprawling, natural amenity.
Owned by the City of Austin, Pease Park is a public park maintained, operated and programmed by Pease Park Conservancy, in partnership with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department. Find out more on our website!