With all the great trail runs that Austin TX has to offer, it’s no wonder we have such a robust trail running community here. Some of our runner patients tell us there’s not a much better feeling than a great run out in nature. The only trouble is that it’s too easy to get distracted by the scenery and take your eyes off the ground! Then you end up spraining an ankle!
Running trails can be a great way to mix up your training and keep things interesting. And for some runners, it’s the only way they’ll go for a jog.
Injuries from Trail Runs
We treat a lot of trail-running injuries in our Austin physical therapy clinic. So for starters, we’d like to remind you to keep your eyes on the ground and watch for low-hanging branches too!
But here’s a quick pro tip if you do land wrong. The “rest and let it heal” advice many physicians will give you is not very good for ankle sprains.
Clinicians giving this advice are unaware of a couple things:
- The pain, swelling, and limitations from an ankle sprain can usually be resolved far faster with hands-on manual therapy techniques. Click here for an example of how quickly manual therapy for ankle sprain can get you back running on the trails.
- The pain from an ankle sprain will usually resolve over time. BUT without proper treatment, the range of motion in your ankle will often remain limited. Since the pain is gone, many people are unaware that their ankle is moving abnormally, and that abnormal movement can often lead to pain and injury elsewhere in the body.
So if you’re dealing with ankle sprains or any other injury, it’s most likely fixable much faster and more completely than if you just wait for it to heal!
Without further ado, he’re our list of favorites, including difficulty levels and maps to help you plan your next trail runs.
Our favorite 5 Trail Runs in Austin, Texas
1.Baton Creek Greenbelt
This classic 7.5-mile trail takes you through an expansive trail system just minutes away from downtown Austin. The trail begins at Barton Springs near downtown and ends up at the Hill of Life. There are some nice elevation changes as you near the finish with a 250 ft. climb over the last ½ mile.
This is a great trail run to really challenge the runner who wants a great way to start off their weekend. If the weather is warm feel free to jump into the creek if it is flowing. It is a great way to cool off and refresh you.
2. Bull Creek Greenbelt
A 2.9-mile trail that is less traveled than the Barton Creek Greenbelt trail. Don’t let that keep you away. This trail is less traveled but allows you to get shorter run with less elevation gain, if that is your muse.
This would be a great run to bring the dog with you and do a little swimming along the way. Just be careful as the trail can be a bit rocky at times.
3. Slaughter Creek Trail
Head to southwest Austin near Circle C and you will find a great 5-mile loop trail that offers more of a country feel with some slight elevation changes. A popular locale for mountain bikers, this trail offers a nice run for trail runners looking to get a great workout. Something to keep in mind: dogs are not allowed here so this would be a great place to focus on your solo runs and do some great speedwork due to little elevation changes. Imagine yourself running in the country just minutes away from downtown Austin. And you aren’t too far from grabbing some great BBQ at the Salt Lick just a few miles away in Driftwood.
4. Walnut Creek Trail
This 1.3-mile loop allows for some fast running due to the flatness of the trail. Bring the dog out for a nice easy run and enjoy. Be mindful, this trail can get pretty busy at times so be sure to get out there early to get a couple of loops in. This would be a great trail for those looking to run in a wooded area. It provides a nice canopy of trees for those hot summer runs.
5. Hill of Life
This is a great area of the greenbelt to run if you are training for a course that has a fair amount of elevation changes. This rocky climb provides 300 feet of elevation gain in just over ⅓ of a mile. Hill repeats are for sure to prep for any trail or road run that has some challenging climbs. What better way to start off your day than getting out on the Hill of Life to get your heart rate up and challenge yourself on some rocky terrain? This run will surely challenge you in ways you haven’t been challenged before. A great getaway just minutes from downtown.
Have any favorite trail runs in the Austin area that aren’t mentioned above? Let us know about it in the comments so we can give it a try and other Austin runners visiting this page can as well. Thanks!