Dog Friendly Hikes Around Austin (On and Off-Leash)

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Tail wags (or butt wiggles) vigorously with excitement. Tongue is out, smile wide, eyes bright. Your furry friend prances around with eager anticipation. You’ve just announced it’s time for a w-a-l-k. But where do you take your favorite four-legged pal? Do you go on your regular route around the block or treat your pup to an outdoor adventure? Whether you’re new to Austin, just got your first dog, have yet to venture out of your neighborhood, or just want to add a few new places to visit, this is for you.

Austin was named America’s best dog city in 2017, and any walk around town will prove that it surely lives up to its title. While many public indoor spaces are dog-friendly, there is so much outdoor space that is waiting for your dog to roam free and do what dogs do best- explore! Here is a comprehensive list of dog-friendly hikes around the city, both on and off-leash, to get your nature fix with your hiking buddy:

 

Off-Leash Dog Hikes (for the socialized, well-trained pups)


Emma Long Metropolitan Park- Turkey Creek Trail

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One of Austin’s only off-leash trails, your dog will enjoy 2.8 miles of wooded adventure. Mostly rocky and rooted terrain, this is the perfect place to get your pooch feeling active. Your dog pal will have plenty of other dog friends to hike with along the way, and not to fret- there is a doggy bag dispenser at the trailhead for your doggy’s needs.  

Distance: 2.8 miles

West Lake Hills

Open daily 5 AM-10 PM

1600 City Park Rd, Austin, TX 78730 (before the Emma Long gate)

 

Barking Springs

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Texas summers are brutal for us humans, which is why Austinites flock to swimming areas like Barton Springs Pool, an outdoor recreational pool filled with nearby natural spring water. Now imagine wearing a fur coat in this 100 degree heat. Hard to imagine, right? Our furry pals need to take a dip in some cold water, too. Thankfully, Barking Springs is right next door to the popular swimming pool, where humans and dogs swim together in harmony. Dogs roam free and play fetch with new friends all day long. Oh and did I mention it’s completely free?

Location: South Austin

2201 Barton Springs Rd, Zilker Park

Just outside (east) of the fenced-off Barton Springs Pool. You can park in the Barton Springs Pool parking area in Zilker Park.

Red Bud Isle

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Sorry Wes Anderson, but Austin is home to the original Isle of Dogs. This lakefront off-leash dog park has 13 acres of open space for your curious doggo to sniff and explore for hours. Your pal can saunter through the island with other fur-iends  and splash around in the surrounding water. You’ll get friendly waves from passing kayakers and canoers who also frequent this beautiful park.

Location: South Austin

Open daily 5 AM-10 PM

3401 Redbud Trail, Austin, TX 78746 (limited parking lot)

 

 

Shoal Creek Greenbelt

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Less well known than the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Shoal Creek is a nicely shaded park with dog trails galore. It runs 3.25 miles from Lady Bird Lake to 38th street, and dogs are allowed off-leash between 24th Street and 29th Street, giving them over a mile of space to run as free as their doggy hearts desire.   

Location: Northern Austin

Open daily 5 AM-10 PM

2631 Shoal Creek Blvd (parking address closest to leash-free section)


Onion Creek District Park
 

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This park boasts 170 acres of off-leash doggy heaven. Onion Creek is perfect for a stroll through shaded trails or a game of fetch in the cool water for your pup to splash around in. With plenty of doggy bag stations around the park, you don’t have to worry about how to clean up after your pooch.    

Location : South Austin

Open daily 5 AM-10 PM

7001 Onion Creek Dr. or 8652 Nuckols Crossing Rd

 

Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park

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Yet another creek for a refreshing swim, Walnut Creek’s one acre off-leash park area is teeming with an adventure-filled day for you and your pup. The park has almost 300 acres of open land and with plenty of trails to choose from, you can’t get bored. Grab your hiking boots and waterproof shoes. Just be careful of all of the cyclists that frequent this park over the weekend- don’t let your energetic furball get run over!

Location: North Austin

Open daily 5 AM-10 PM

12138 N Lamar Blvd.


Lady Bird Lake Auditorium Shores
 

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Just south of downtown within Town Lake Park, Auditorium Shores is the perfect place to bring your four-legged friend while also taking in sweeping views of Austin’s skyline. You’ll find 4.5 acres of off-leash fun for your pup to run free with other fur-iends. There’s a walking trail, water access areas to play in Lady Bird Lake and dog water fountains for Austin’s hot summer days.

Location: South/Downtown Austin

Open daily 5 AM-10 PM

900 W Riverside Dr.

 

On-Leash Hikes

Hill of Life Trail (Greenbelt)

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Barton Creek Greenbelt’s Hill of Life trail is one of Austin’s best spots for those wanting a relaxing day tucked away under shady trees listening to the trickle of water passing by. The half-mile hike downhill (or uphill depending on the direction you’re coming from) is usually an extra challenge for mountain bikers or trail runners, but a great short hike before settling into a hammock with your furry pal in a creekside spot of your choosing.

Location: Southwest Austin

Open daily 5 AM-10 PM

1710 Camp Craft Road


River Place Nature Trail

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If you’re looking for a slightly longer hike with your pup, River Place Nature Trail could be perfect. A 5.5 loop of various trails along a shallow creek, your dog will have a blast exploring the woods and making new friends along the way. There are a lot of stairs and elevation gain, though, so make sure you and your pup are prepared for a leg day!

Location: Northwest Austin

Open daily 5 AM-10 PM

8830 Big View Dr. or along River Place Blvd. (street parking in residential neighborhood)

Lady Bird Lake Trail

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One of my personal favorite downtown spots in Austin, this trail is a popular running and biking route along the river. Accessible from W Cesar Chavez St. or W Riverside Dr., you won’t go very far before running into other people walking their dog pals. Keep your furry friend on a tight leash if they have a lot of energy- it’s easy to run into bikers or runners on busy days.

Location: Downtown

Open daily 5 AM-10 PM

Parking lot across the street from the Austin Public Library: 710 W Cesar Chavez Street

Violet Crown Trail

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One of the original trails on the Greenbelt, this is a go-to, dog-friendly hiking destination for everyone in Austin, soon to be the longest trail of its kind in central Texas (30 miles). You and your pooch will enjoy the various landscapes along this trail, from wooded dirt paths shaded by the surrounding trees that line plentiful creeks to white, rocky cliffs that tower above. Your pup will have plenty to explore along the Greenbelt, but be careful if you decide to let your furry friend off-leash anywhere along this trail- park rangers do check in from time to time (they are just trying to protect the nature that surrounds the trail).  

Location: Downtown/Southeast Austin

Open daily 5 AM-10 PM

2201 Barton Springs Rd, Zilker Park

 

Mount Bonnell

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If you’re looking for a romantic evening with your furry friend, go venture to the top of Mt. Bonnell and watch the sun dip below the trees ahead. Standing at 775 feet, this is the highest point in Austin. While there are quite a bit of stairs on your trek to the top, you and your

pup will be blown away by the breathtaking views, and even happier that you got to share the experience together.  

Location: Northwest Austin

Open daily 5 AM-10 PM

3800 Mt Bonnell Rd

Hope that this post gave you some inspiration to get outside with your furry friends! 

Stay Wild, 

Cristina

April Community Workshops with The Rooted Method

Looking for a one day workshop in Austin to expand your outdoor skills, knowledge and personal growth? Want to meet some really cool people who might become your best friends or hiking buddies? Check out our two upcoming workshops this April!