According to Michael Jaimes, MD, an interventional radiologist with the Austin Radiological Association, people live in Austin, Texas, for two reasons: No. 1 is music, but a close No. 2 is the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities year-round (except for the occasional passing storm).
“There’s always good weather for outdoor activities,” he said. “And March is a wonderful time to be in Austin.”
Dr. Jaimes, with a little help from some of his Austin colleagues, shared his top picks for outdoor activities for those coming to SIR 2019.
Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail
The 10.1-mile trail circles Lady Bird Lake, which borders the southern edge of downtown Austin. You’ll find several access points close to the Austin Convention Center and visitors can rent bicycles at several locations close to the trail.
“It’s a nice, pretty trail and extremely easy to navigate,” Dr. Jaimes said. “You can walk it, hike it and bike it and really get some great views of the Austin skyline.”
Lady Bird Lake is a nonmotorized lake, so you’ll see a lot of people using kayaks and paddleboards. Visitors also can rent watercraft at several locations.
On the southern shore of Lady Bird Lake and just across from downtown Austin, Zilker Park is home to the Austin Nature Science Center, the Barton Springs Pool and Zilker Botanical Garden. It’s also a great place to rent canoes, kayaks and paddleboards.
“It’s kind of Austin’s equivalent to Central Park. There are always people out playing football, Frisbee. It’s a great place for a picnic or exercise,” Dr. Jaimes said.
Covert Park at Mt. Bonnell
One of Austin’s most popular sites, this smallish park sits on a 775-foot outcrop east of downtown. What it lacks in long hiking trails it makes up for with spectacular views of Austin and the Pennybacker Bridge, named for a pioneering bridge designer, not the bridge’s unique copper color.
“It’s a nice view and a good place to take pictures that say that you were in Austin—a fun place to take in a good breath of fresh air,” Dr. Jaimes said.
The Veloway at Circle C Ranch Metropolitan Park: This 5-kilometer trail in south Austin is only for biking, so it’s a good place for those new to road biking or who want to avoid other kinds of vehicles.
The Dam Loop: This 45-mile loop west of downtown is a trail that says, “This is Austin,” Dr. Jaimes said. The loop is for more experienced riders since there is some motorized traffic. For any biking, “All you need to do is bring your shoes and your helmet. And you don’t even need that, because you can rent those along with a bike,” he said.
“Two trails that I recommend are easy-to-moderate difficulty and easy to get to from central Austin: The Barton Creek Greenbelt about three miles south of Zilker Park and Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park in north Austin. Both of these have some challenges, but they shouldn’t hurt anybody who rides,” he said. Pace Bend Park along the Colorado River west of Austin has lots of trails for mountain biking and hiking, as does Milton Reimers Ranch Park. Both are about 45 minutes from the city.
In addition to the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, Dr. Jaime recommends the River Place Nature Trail near the Colorado River west of Austin and the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve on the other side of the river. Both are farther away from the convention center but easily accessible by taxi and shared-ride services. The same goes for McKinney Falls State Park, southeast of downtown Austin. Pedernales Falls State Park is 30 miles west of Austin.