360 Bridge - Pennybacker Bridge

360 Bridge - Pennybacker Bridge

As told by
Rooster
Its aesthetically pleasing architectural design allows for spectacular sunset photos & is commonly photographed for Austin tourism brochures.
Price:
FREE
Best time of day:
Anytime

What everyone knows

The overlook at the 360 Bridge is a great date spot an iconic Austin site that offers spectacular sunrise & sunset views. It is also a popular locale for observing fireworks as well as numerous boats and water skiers passing under the bridge.

What they don't tell you

The 360 Bridge overlook will give you a great view of Austin Country Club (southeast side of the bridge) which is home to several PGA & LPGA tournaments. Also, from atop the summit of the overlook one can hike westward and see a trailhead that will lead to a trail which meanders its way atop the limestone bluffs that surround Lake Austin. In addition, there is a public boat ramp underneath the bridge (accessible on the southwest side) where you can find barbeque grills, picnic tables, benches, & portable toilets. It also is used as a fun swimming area, and if you meander away a little bit you will find a fun rope swing!

Do it like a local

Grab your loved one(s) a picnic basket, and wear comfortable hiking shoes. Park your vehicle in the dirt lot at the base of the cliff (on the northwest side of the bridge) and hike up the trail that leads to the top of the limestone bluff overlooking the bridge, and enjoy the sunrise or sunset!

For the History Buffs

The Pennybacker bridge, better known as the “360 Bridge” because it spans Lake Austin (Colorado River...no, not the one that carved the Grand Canyon) via highway 360 - a.k.a. “The Capital of Texas Highway” - is named after Percy V. Pennybacker who designed bridges for the Texas Highway Department and was a pioneer in the technology of welded structures. Mr. Pennybacker earned his Civil Engineering degree from the University of Texas and served in both World Wars. By incorporating the use of welding for its bridge design, he is credited for saving the State of Texas millions. This “through-arch” bridge was completed and dedicated in 1982. This $10 million dollar bridge was only the second bridge of its design in the world at the time. It spans 1,150 feet and us 100 feet above the Lake Austin. The bridge is constructed such that no part of the structure touches the water which keeps Lake Austin’s boats and water skiers free from any support columns. The steel bridge has a uniform weathered rust finish (thanks to its steel structures being sandblasted) allowing the bridge to blend in with the surrounding hills and lake. It has four lanes, two in each direction, separated by a middle barrier wall. The bridge also has a 6-foot-wide bike and pedestrian lane, which is lined with pedestrians each July 4th to catch a spectacular view of the fireworks over the lake.
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