Barton Creek Greenbelt

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Barton Creek Greenbelt

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The Barton Creek Greenbelt is the destination for outdoor enthusiasts to go hiking, mountain biking, swimming, sunbathing, rope swinging, birding, rock climbing, bouldering, cliff jumping, and even spelunking. You too can enjoy its twelve miles of trails via multiple access points.
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What everyone knows

The Barton Creek Greenbelt is a favorite destination for adventure seekers and nature lovers. It is managed by the City of Austin's Park and Recreation Department.

What they don't tell you

If you are exploring the greenbelt and notice Barton Creek bone dry in some areas but not in others that is because the creek begins in northern Hays County and flows 40 miles east through Austin and drains into the Edwards aquifer recharge zone at different points along the way, eventually feeding into Lady Bird Lake.

Do it like a local

The Barton Creek Greenbelt has numerous trails with varying levels of difficulty, so be sure to wear a helmet if you decide to explore via bicycle. I prefer to access the greenbelt at its furthest north entrance via the Lost Creek Blvd. access point and bike predominantly down hill all the way to its access point at Barton Springs.

For the History Buffs

The Barton Creek Greenbelt is home to well-known swimholes as Campbell’s Hole, Twin Falls, Sculpture Falls, Lost Creek Falls; and not-to-well-known water gems such as Nameless Falls, Bench Falls, and Hidden Falls. In addition, there are multiple rope swing swimholes scattered along the greenbelt on the edges of Barton Creek. The great news is that there are numerous ways to access “The Greenbelt” as locals call it. However, one of those ways is only for the bold and extremely fit individuals who love an intense workout. It is known as “The Hill of Life”. I prefer to call it “The Hill of Hell” after I feebly attempted to mountain bike its 300 steep, vertical feet of limestone. This baby is a heart-stopper of a climb - whether ascending or descending! After that excruciating event, I vowed to never access The Greenbelt from that location. You can also access a completed section of the newly added Violet Crown Trail that is under construction and will eventually add thirty miles to Austin’s trail system and will lead you all the way to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and eventually into Hays County. I can’t wait! If you regularly use a “belay loop” or carabiners, then you will be happy to know that there are multiple limestone bluffs you can rock climb, including Seismic Wall (via Spyglass access) and a cliff dubbed Urban Assault (via Gus Fruh access). Believe it or not, the greenbelt is host to the sixth longest cave in Texas at just over 11,000 feet long. It is called Airmen’s Cave thanks to two airmen who were stationed at Bergstrom Air Force Base in 1971 and discovered the cave. They began excavating its entrance, and eventually explored the cave and mapped two miles of it. It has recently been sealed off with metal bars and its entrance, due to numerous rescues of curious spelunkers over the years. Luckily, I was able to explore this gem prior to its closure. However, I only made it to the first chamber - crawling “commando style” on my stomach - by painstakenly squeezing through what is known as the “birth canal”. I never made it further in the cave where there is another chamber room dubbed the “Aggie Art Gallery” due to the hundreds of clay sculptures that cover the walls, ceiling, and floor.
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