Places to Hike: The Trail Foundation

Austinites really enjoy spending their time outdoors.One of the best places to do that is on the Butler hike & bike trail that’s run by The Trail Foundation

In Austin? Learn more about The Trail Foundation

Austinites really enjoy spending their time outdoors. One of the best places to do that is on the Butler hike & bike trail located downtown Austin, TX. It’s maintained by The Trail Foundation, so continue reading to learn more.


Austin  is a mere 30 minutes away from me.  It’s close enough to run errands, but far away enough to not feel the craziness of the congestion.  Well except for when I go- to and head- home from work.

That being said- I do spend a handful of days off in Austin as it’s home to one of my favorite places to stack on some miles to keep my legs trail ready.  The Butler hike and bike trail at Lady Bird Lake, or Town Lake depending on when you got to town, contains about 10 miles that cut through downtown and around the Colorado river.

Overlooking the Colorado River from pedestrian bridge

 Skyline views, Zilker park, deep eddy pool are just some highlights of this pathway, and it’s run and maintained by a  partnership  with the  Austin parks and rec  and  The Trail Foundation .

The Beginnings

Long Before the foundation however, there were many citizens that wanted to use this land as a beautification project for the city of Austin. That committee was formed in 1971, and according to the trail foundation website , it featured many notable members such as Lady Bird Johnson, Ann Butler, Emma Long and more.

Fast forward to 2003  the Town Lake Foundation as it was originally known was created to carry on the legacy of these notable austinites that saw the need for this type of space for the residents to enjoy. , The  nonprofit is a steward for what the trail needs in term of preservation of land and continuing to maintain the natural resources on and around the trail.

They’re also responsible for the guidelines that are currently in place for maintaining cleanliness, social well being and more. There are some current social restriction guidelines in place at the time of this recording, and they spent a ton of time placing reminder signs, and also digging them out of the trash.  The foundation also helps facilitate the needs of the space, like improving restrooms, trailheads, and other amenities.

LINK: Click to learn more about hiking in Austin

The trail sees over 4 million visitors annually, and it’s only going to continue to grow, so the foundation spends a lot of time researching various types of erosion that happens on the ground and from the Colorado river that flows through it. Projects include woodland canopy expansion, improving the Colorado river floodplain health and other projects.

Protecting the plantlife here isn’t just important for erosion though , but also for maintaining a refuge for the wildlife that frequent these waters

Historic bridge from the hike and bike trail

One of the few people I know that’s born and raised in Austin, On The Trail Foundation site you’ll see that she brought over 10 years of experience working with native Texas plants on restoration and landscape projects all over central Texas.

In a recent podcast episode I spoke with Leslie Lilly who is the conservation director for The Trail Foundation. She’s responsible for a lot of the restoration projects that happen in this public space. “My work with the foundation is preservation work in an urban environment…with my background I fit the bill to be able implement this land management, ecologic steward plan. I started prioritizing our forestry needs… you wanna make sure that tree is there for a long time, but you want to make sure you maintain those ecosystems and restore them”.

I’m so excited for y’all to learn about what she does, including removing invasive plant species, and planting thousands of trees, and if you’re ever in the Austin area- come check out the Butler hike and bike trail.  There are amazing sights and sounds here, and its one of my few must-stops in the city of Austin-

Make sure you visit The Trail Foundation website to learn what they do, how you can volunteer and how you can donate to help show your support.

Listen to the podcast episode below:

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