I really love a city that gives honest consideration to the enjoyment and health of it’s citizens. I have spoken before of cities like Indianapolis and St. Louis, among others, that have great parks and trails for their citizens to enjoy. In so many cities (I’m staring at YOU Los Angeles) you take your life in your hands when you try to use what they call “pedways”, et al. just to GET TO the trails. Even then they are overcrowded and in some cases just downright dangerous.
Tonight I went for a run on the Town Lake trail in Austin. Right at six miles round trip from my hotel down to the park, around part of the trail and back. The run through the skyscrapers of downtown Austin was a bit… umm… invigorating (read: hair raising) but once I survived got to one of the many trail access points I was not disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong… this is a very urban trail. Views of the skyline meet you at every twist of the trail and there are lots of underpasses of major roads so there is a bit of city noise to go along with the run. The trail itself, though, is relatively well maintained and is a combination of cinder and concrete. It runs right next to Town Lake (which, I think, is a dammed up section of a river or something like that). It follows the wooded banks of the river with views of kayakers and rowers, people fishing, several big parks and, of course, more skyline (I don’t think this is a bad thing… just a thing).
I ran at rush hour or right about 6:30. The trail was packed. Think “mall during holiday season”, so I would recommend this time to run unless you are comfortable running in crowds. Everyone was courteous and I even had a wandering black lab as a running buddy for a while. Don’t know who belonged to him but they obviously didn’t run fast enough so he chose me for a while until a wandering golden retriever butt demanded sniffing and he forgot all about me. He was cute.
I think I am going to run this trail again one more time only this time I am going to run it in the morning (it doesn’t get light here until well after 7am… weird!) on Thursday before I leave. I might even stretch it out a bit and try to run a little further.
Two things I can say for sure about Austin. There are LOADS of places to run and ride. And if you can’t find a good place to eat downtown (I stopped counting at 45 eateries in a 10 block area) you’re just not looking.