Q: Where is the trail located?
A: The trail is located in Austin, Texas, USA. The trail runs from North Austin to South Austin and passes through the center of the city.
Q: How long is the trail?
A: The trail its currently about 33.5 miles (53.91 km) in length plus optional routes that add up to 46.47 miles (74.78 km). There are various side routes, spur trails and detours that can add additional length to your hike if desired.
Q: How long will it take me to hike the route?
A: The answer to this question can only be answered by you. A fast hiker can probably hike 20 miles per day and complete the route in 2 full days. An average hiker can probably hike 10 to 15 miles per day and complete the hike in 3 days. A Saunteer may choose to hike at a slower pace and finish when they finish. See the post How to Plan Your Austin Thru Hike for a suggested itinerary. There are a variety of things to see, to do and to experience along this trail. I recommend Hiking Your Own Hike. Enjoy!
Q: Is this really a “thru hike” at only 33 to 46 miles?
A: A simple definition of a “thru hike” might be a hike of an established end-to-end hiking trail or long-distance trail with continuous footsteps in one direction.
The route currently stands at about 47 miles, but the route could easily be extended to add additional mileage. There are also many miles of trails, side trails and alternative trails within each of the greenspaces through which this route passes. If you would like to hike 100 miles along this route it is probably possible. I would say Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH).
Q: How much of the route is urban/concrete versus greenspace/trails?
A: This is a complex question. I estimate that about 95% of the route passes through greenspace. Probably 90% is over dirt trails within the greenspace and perhaps 5% over concrete paths within the greenspace. In some of the city parks the trail is a concrete sidewalk. I estimate that less than 5% is on urban roads/sidewalks.
When hiking through the greenspaces over the concrete paths there is typically an less direct option to walk over a dirt trail. Even when walking through the urban/concrete areas, there were typically options to walk on a dirt trail; although it might require bushwhacking or wading through a creek.
During the inaugural hike, I could have elected to walk on a dirt trail around The Domain Shopping Mall. However, I elected to walk strait through the The Domain Shopping Mall and the Macy’s Store and found the experience quite interesting and a bit unique. HYOH
Q: When is the best time of the year to hike this route?
A: It is possible to hike this route year round – January to December. Perhaps the best months to hike are October to April when the weather temperate is cool. During late Spring, Summer and early Fall the average temperature can be hot. For averages see Austin Climate. Stay hydrated when hiking in Texas. There are a number of stores, cafes, restaurants and pubs along the route where you may purchase drinks.
Q: How much does it cost to hike the route?
A: This hike is FREE!!! There is no permit nor fee to hike this route – so the cost is zero, zilch, nada. You will likely have expenses for food, drinks, transportation and perhaps accommodation. Estimate per day $20 for food and drink, $5 to $35 for transportation (using Buses, Lyft or Uber) and $50 to $150 for accommodation (using Airbnb)
Q: Where can I camp along the route?
A: Officially, it is illegal to camp in City of Austin city parks and green spaces. Unofficially, it happens, so camp at your own discretion and risk. A camper may be looked upon and treated as a homeless person, so take precautions if you try to camp. Also, be aware that there are a few homeless encampments in some of the green spaces, so be considerate, courteous and be aware of your surroundings. The few homeless people that I encountered were friendly. If you are visiting from out of town, my advice would be to stay at an Airbnb or Hotel and commute to and from your start and finish points.
Q: Are there places to set up a hammock along the route?
A: Yes, packing a hammock is a great idea and there are many trees and structures to set up a hammock.
Q: Is hiking this urban trail safe?
A: In general, Austin is a safe city. The neighborhoods and green spaces this route passes through are generally thought of as safe. As always, remember that you are in an urban setting, take precautions, stay aware of your surroundings, follow your gut, stay safe. You may hike through some areas with debris and trash so take special precautions where you step. This entire route is located within the city so you should be able to receive a cell phone signal anywhere along the route.
Q: Will I encounter wildlife on this route?
A: Yes, I encountered birds (heron, egrets, hawks, owls, ducks, geese, hummingbirds), fish (Guadalupe bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, Rio Grande cichlids, sunfish, carp), snakes (Ribbon, green grass, cottonmouth, water moccasin), turtles, lizards, frogs, squirrels, deer, foxes, raccoons and armadillos. There are coyotes in some of the green spaces, but I did not encounter any during my hike. Most of the animals that I saw were typically out at dawn, dusk or evening and close to the water sources. I recommend that all of the wildlife should be respected and not disturbed. You are passing through their habitat so please tread lightly.
Q: Can I mountain bike this route?
A: If you stay true to the route, I think that it would be very difficult to bike the route due to the lack of a true trail in some areas and amount of water wading and crossings in other areas. I mountain bike and I would not attempt it. There are some areas where you might need to carry your bike through brush, up or down hills and through creeks for up to 1 mile. I’d estimate that 75% is physically possible to bike. The route south of 35th Street passes through established parks and trails, so it would be possible to bike this part of the route. Honestly, I’m not sure if all of the green spaces legally allow biking. However, I’m not one to tell someone that something is not possible. Of course, you could always bike your own bike and take detours when necessary.
Q: Can I hike with my dog on this route?
A: Maybe. I think that it would be safe to hike FOR SHORT DISTANCES AND SHORT TIMES with a dog on most of the trail south of 35th Street. Most of the route south of 35th passes through established parks and trails where dogs on-leash are allowed and some areas where dogs off-lease are allowed.
North of 45th Street there are some areas that might be a little tricky and a unsafe for your dog. The route north of 45t Street varies from concrete sidewalks to dirt trails to rough terrain to areas with debris. There is also more wildlife which may be a distraction or danger to a dog. Be aware that if you are planning an all-day (8 to 12 hours) multi-day (2 to 3 days) hike of this route that your dog will likely not be physically conditioned for this type of hiking. Continuous and repetitive hiking of this sort can cause permanent physical damage to your body and your dog’s body. My advice would be to not hike with your dog for the health of your dog. Still in doubt? Consider reading this article about What you need to know about thru-hiking with a dog.
Q: When was this trail established?
A: The Austin Thru Hike was established in Jan of 2020. It linked together various existing trails, pathways, parks and roads into one contiguous trail.
Q: Who pioneered the trail? Any why?
A: Troy @troyfromtexas pioneered the trail. He is an avid hiker and backpacker that wanted to establish a thru hike that 1. Could be hiked and enjoyed by an average hiker. 2. Could be hiked within 2 to 4 days. 3. Could be accessible with a limited budget and a limited amount of time. For the full story see the post about the Backstory and Development.