After your initially paddle out of the Barton Creek tributary, you will come to Ladybird Johnson Lake (also known as Town Lake) which runs through the heart of downtown. Zilker park is a wonderful urban park in the heart of Austin with plenty of fun for the whole family from train rides to playgrounds to even swimming in in Barton Springs pool. Or paddle your way to Port Crescent beach for a picnic or dune diving adventure in a canoe from Tip-O-Thumb canoe rental. One of the things I love about Austin is its greenbelts – swaths of greenery sprinkled throughout the city.
There are a couple of other swimming holes dotted along Barton Creek upstream from Barton Springs. Blue Hole in Wimberley is so small-town Southern and quaint you’ll want to bring apple pie and iced tea to enjoy the scenery. And summer is not complete without a visit to Schlitterbahn, the most awesome super-bad coolest waterpark on the planet. With all the rivers and hill country getaways within 2-3 hours of Austin, there’s great camping and hiking too, though the summer months are just too hot to even think about it.
Guadalupe River State Park – Best to camp here in May, when you can go tubing and wading in the river. McKinney Falls State Park – This park is in or at least very near Austin city limits, so for some reason I never think of trying their campgrounds. Join Austin Canoe and Kayak  for the most anticipated event of the year to demo over 90+ kayaks, canoes and SUPS. Zilker Park Boat Rentals, located just downstream from Barton Springs Swimming Pool, offers kayak rentals, canoe rentals and stand up kayak rentals. You have two options from there: 1) paddle to the left for a boat trip with a nature setting or paddle to the right to go through downtown.


Not just any swimming, but natural, outdoors in the woods, don’t-need-a-membership-to-a-country-club swimming. It’s a shame, because it was a fun place to camp and also stay at their 1930s cabins that were built by the CCC. Sporting more than 100 kayaks and canoes, Zilker Park Boat Rentals will help friends, families and solo paddlers to explore Zilker Park's waterways, including Lady Bird Lake.
We opted for the downtown route which was still tree-lined and full of nature but had the added fun of going under bridges, past sky scrapers, and unique sculpture art. We rented our canoes for $12 an hour and fit two adults and two kids comfortably inside the canoe.
The water is warmer too, so you can actually feel your toes when you’re swimming around. I’ve heard that they were able to save all of the cabins, but there is probably not much to see when you are there. There’s this enormous granite field full of pock marks where little pools have eroded away the rock. The demo will allow paddlers to test a selection of over 90 kayaks as well as several canoes and SUPs. There are only two bench seats so the kids either have to sit on the bottom of the boat or on thin metal pole which spans the width of the boat. The following day, our store will host an expo showcasing new products with representatives from our vendors there to answer any questions you might have. Since we started late in the day, we only had time to do the hour of paddling but found that it was a nice amount of time to enjoy the lake.
Lady Bird Johnson was instrumental in the beautification project that started in the 1960s, and the result is a gorgeous 10-mile looped trail.


I think you access it off of the Spyglass Access Point, or the one behind Barton Hills Elementary. There are ropes to swing on, and if you’re like the crazy local townies, you can climb up the trees and jump off too. A good portion of it is built in a natural, shaded setting along the Comal River, so you aren’t frying in the sun while you wait to jump headfirst down a chute. There’s a drive you can take nearby called Willow City Loop that will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF. If that wasn’t enough, we will also have door prizes at the expo along with snacks and refreshments and several educational clinics! The nice thing about the canoes is that the time is prorated so if you come back at say, 1.5 hours, you won't be charged for the full second hour.
Come out any day of the week and you’ll find joggers, bikers, dogs, parents with strollers, and hippies with guitars getting in their exercise in the center of town.
Unfortunately, I think it’s also the most crowded on the weekends, and full of people who like to blare their stereos and smoke and throw their Bud Lite cans on the ground. Anyway, even if there aren’t any wildflowers, Enchanted Rock is an amazing place to hike.
You get to it by parking near where Mopac Expressway crosses over the Barton Creek Greenbelt.



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