Stillhouse Hollow Nature Preserve (7810 Sterling Drive) has a paved trail that measures about 0.3 miles each way. The trail deadends at what used to be a lovely observation deck but was damaged by a fire and is now completely gone, so it’s just a simple out-and-back at this point.
Former observation deck site
It’s a pretty, heavily wooded area that isn’t far from the surrounding homes but feels secluded. The trail goes downhill on the way in so you’ll be going noticeably uphill on the way back out. The trail also has some sharp turns that keep it interesting. Other than a bike rack and the trail, there are no other facilities here. There is a small parking lot but it’s behind a gate that seems to always be locked. One can easily park in the adjacent neighborhood street though. Though a short path, this is a pretty spot worth the trip. I had the place to myself on the cold, wet day I visited and there was ample birdsong to listen to.
St. Edwards Greenbelt (7301 Spicewood Springs Road) is a real Northwest Austin treasure. It boasts about four miles of trails, the Hill trail that’s a bit rockier and has more elevation change, and the Creek trail along the water. Thanks to recent heavy rains, there was tons of water in the creek the day I visited, and several tiny waterfalls to see along the way. Unseasonably warm temperatures made for a great repeat visit this past weekend.
A small parking lot is available onsite. You may want to park on the side closer to the street and be sure to lock your vehicle and hide your valuables as break-ins are often reported in this more remote parking lot. The unpaved trail is well marked with color coded signs. There’s a nice swimming hole down in the creek, but no other facilities.
St. Elmo School Park (4312 South 1st Street) is a six acre park with a gravel track that measures about 0.2 miles per lap. I did a total of 1.33 miles of my run here. The track is flat and not shaded. It was empty of other visitors while I was there. There is on-site parking here as well as a basketball court. It is closed Monday through Friday from 7am to 4pm as it is attached to a school. I had the pleasure of seeing a larger flock of wild Quaker parrots in the midfield of the track – a neat bright green sight to see!
Stoney Ridge Neighborhood Park (7000 Moores Crossing Boulevard) is a small park that is not very runnable. A short stretch of flat, exposed sidewalk yields only 0.15 miles out and back. It has a playground, basketball court, and parking.
Other parks that I have recently attempted to visit but are undeveloped and not runnable at all are South Boggy Creek Greenbelt, South Park Meadows Greenbelt, Southland Oaks Neighborhood Park, Springfield Neighborhood Park, Williamson Creek East Greenbelt, and Willamson Creek West Greenbelt (which are a 12 minute drive apart despite their similar names).
Springwoods Neighborhood Park (9117 Anderson Mill Road) is a 12 acre Northwest Austin park with a 0.5 mile trail. The trail is flat, shaded, and partially gravel, partially paved. It’s intermittent paving make it a fun place to do fartlek workouts (or speed play) by sprinting the paved sections and jogging the gravel sections. It’s a well-used park; I counted seven other users, all with their dogs, on the chilly morning I visited, even at an early hour. I ran a total of three miles here.
This park has ample parking, tennis courts, a neat playground, and several nice picnic pavilions. The trail is quite meandering and makes the laps around more interesting. It’s not very secluded and you’ll hear traffic noise throughout, but it’s still a good run destination.
Other parks I have attempted to visit recently but are undeveloped and not runnable are Schieffer Tract, Shinoak Valley Greenbelt, and Steck Valley Greenbelt.
Sendera Mesa Neighborhood Park (4717 Davis Lane) is a small park and only a tiny portion of it is developed. It’s not a runnable park; just a short, flat sidewalk bisects it. It does have ample parking and a nice playground. A swimming pool for the residents is next to it and it is highly over-chlorinated, lending an unpleasant smell to the park.
Slaughter Creek at Twin Oaks Greenbelt (10520 1/2 S 1st Street) is 11 acres of parkland that is undeveloped and not runnable.
South Austin Neighborhood Park (1100 Cumberland Road) has many great features including a large and high quality tennis center, rec center, sports courts, a nice playground, and pretty shaded picnic areas. Some sidewalk meanders through the spaces only totally about 0.56 miles and it’s not the shape where you’d do laps and laps, so it’s not really runnable either (though a fine place to visit for other use). Several lots make parking here easy.
Shipe Neighborhood Park (4400 Avenue G) is a 2.5 acre park in the Hyde Park area. A lot of features are packed into its smaller size, including basketball and tennis courts, a swimming pool, playground, public art in the form of mosaic and sculpture, and ample picnic areas. Even the restroom building has an interesting log cabin design. There’s not much of a trail within the park, but a run around its perimeter yields about 0.3 miles per lap. Two sides of its perimeter have sidewalks and the rest is easy to run in the quieter street, and it’s somewhat shaded and mostly flat. This neighborhood has interesting architecture to see with homes from various areas including restored Victorian-style houses.
The Elizabet Ney museum (home to the late German sculptress) is adjacent to this park. A gravel nature trail winds through the wildlife habitat here, and a small bridge and creek can be found behind the building.
It was quite a muggy morning today, but there were several other patrons enjoying this park. Ample street parking is available here.
I’ve been away from my parks project for some time now as I was healing a broken sacrum, but I’m back at it now.
Seider Springs Greenbelt (1380 West 34th Street) is a park with paved trails that total about 0.45 miles out and back. The trail is a little bit hilly and very shaded. The park is named after the Seiders family, whose interesting history can be read about here. Street parking is available at marked times across the road from the trailhead. The trail ends at 31st Street, where you can turn right and continue on to Shoal Creek Trail usually, though that trailhead is currently closed for repairs. Seider Springs is a quiet area with some interesting creek views to boot.
Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Metro Park (400 Grove Boulevard) is a large park (over 265 acres) with many facilities, having been developed only in the last few years. The playground is very unique (and shaded!) and there is a nice picnic pavilion. Ample parking is available in several lots here. It was very quiet on this warm weekday morning; I only came upon a few other visitors (with one speedy dachshund).
There is a paved trail that leads from the parking lot near the playground through a pretty wooded area, out to the highway frontage road. Out-and-back it’s about 0.7 miles. There are also several miles of gravel trail on the side of the park near the sports fields, but because the pedestrian bridge is currently out (damaged by the recent major floods), most of the trail is inaccessible at this time. The parks website does not indicate when the bridge may re-open.
I saw many cardinals and one large deer here today! I look forward to visiting again to explore more of the trails when the bridge is repaired.
I loved these unique benches on either side of a baby nature trail in one corner of the playground.
Poinciana Neighborhood Park (5201 Friedrich Lane) is a triangle-shaped park in South Austin. Sidewalk goes around about half of it and amounts to about 0.3 miles; one would need to step out into the street to go all the way around, which I wouldn’t recommend as these are pretty busy streets. Despite its smaller size there were several users out walking at the park this warm weekday morning. The rest of the park is open space with some pretty foliage. Street parking is available.
I have been striking out lately on being able to run in the parks I’m visiting – but I guess part of discovering great places to run is eliminating the places where you can’t!
Old San Antonio Greenbelt (11705 Old San Antonio Rd), Old San Antonio Park (12110 Old San Antonio Rd), and Onion Creek Metro Park (8652 Nuckols Crossing Rd) are undeveloped tracts right now with no trails or paths for running. Hopefully in the future they will be, because this is a pretty area.
Piney Bend Neighborhood Park (8601 Piney Creek Bend) just has a very small developed area with a playscape; the rest of its four acres are undeveloped and it is therefore also unrunnable.