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The Boardwalk Trail on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake was a project 20 years in the making. The boardwalk, opened in 2014, links a 1.3-mile gap in the trail on Lady Bird Lake, allowing thousands of daily users to travel safely along the route.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2014, and updated in September 2019. Additional reporting by Christina Boudreaux.
Free Fun In Austin continues to highlight Austin area locations and activities that may not be available at this time. We encourage you to take all safety measures to keep yourself and your neighbors safe. It is our hope that the stories and features on this site will help inform your plans in the future.
So this past Sunday morning, we decided to go out and take a stroll. Here were my loads of questions before heading out:
- Will runners and bikers give us the stink eye for walking slowly with kids?
- Will it be boring for the kids?
- Where will we park?
- How far will we have to walk? And will the kids keep up? (The youngest will no longer agree to ride in a stroller, being such a big boy, you know.)
We warned the kids beforehand that we would all need to stay to the right side of the trail, allowing bikers and runners to pass us.
The trail provided great views of the city skyline. It also gave us all a new perspective of the lake. The kids counted 18 turtles on the walk, some interesting birds, and lots of canoes and kayaks. We saw folks of all ages. There were kids fishing off the side, runners, bikers (some of whom did look obviously annoyed that they had to navigate around children), and older folks out for a slow stroll.
The trail also includes several little lookout points, which were great spots for taking photos. The walk started out comfortably with some cloud coverage, but it quickly became hot as blazes with the summer sun upon us. We made it down the trail to I-35 before the kids got tired — which I called a success.
Also, we noticed many western-style belts integrated into the railings of the Boardwalk Trail, but didn’t know anything about that until looking it up on the internet when back home. As part of the city’s Art in Public Places program, artist Ken Little created this art installation called Belting It Out, which includes song lyrics from well-known Texas singers and songwriters embossed on each belt.
When You Go:
- Wear sunscreen and a hat. Bring water to stay hydrated.
- Bring a camera. You’ll love the great views of the city skyline.
- Keep the kids on one side. There is a pretty obvious dividing line down the middle of the boardwalk. It gives walkers, runners, and bikers a guide for going south on one side and north on the other. For the safety of all on the trail, do keep the kiddos on one side of the trail heading in the right direction. There are many little lookout points where kids can stop and spy turtles, take photos, etc. But keeping moving on the trail is a best idea for all who are navigating it.
- Put your kids on wheels if possible. I realized that just strolling at a four-year-old’s pace made me yearn for a little more actual exercise. I wanted to be out there burning calories like many of the others on the trail. But we didn’t have the proper stroller or bikes for the kids to keep up at a good pace.
The Boardwalk is open from 5 a.m. to midnight each day, with a curfew between midnight and 5 a.m.
Parking: Street parking is available on S. Lakeshore Blvd. between Pleasant Valley Road and Riverside. Or if you are walking the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail loop, you can park at Festival Beach across the river, or at any of the parking areas near the trail.
Boardwalk Access Points:
The Boardwalk can be accessed at several points – the northeast corner of the Austin American-Statesman parking lot, off the Riverside Drive sidewalk at Blunn Creek, from the northeast corner of the Riverside and IH35 intersection, and at International Shores Park, 1820 S. Lakeshore Boulevard.
Map: Here is a PDF map of the Boardwalk Trail.
Freelance web producer, Heidi Okla is mom to three boys, and can’t pass up any opportunity for fun family adventures.