Austin trails see big spike in usage despite the pandemic

2020 has seen a lot of downtime with work from home orders and closed businesses. That has left more Austinites with a desire, or need, to get outside and just do something. That lends perfectly to the great trails that Austin has in and around the city.   

The Trail Foundation, which maintains the Butler walking/biking trail along Lady Bird Lake, has seen at least a 20% increase in usage due to the pandemic.

Even with the colder weather, they’ve heard several "just found the trail" stories from Austinites who need a change of scenery from their homes. The Butler walking trail offers a perfect combination of outdoor activity that’s easy to socially distance and that all-important not-in-the-house change of scenery. 


The extra demand comes at a time when several projects are finishing up.  

The Brazos Bluff decking project is now open which gives a shady rest stop for families as well as reducing the erosive power of stormwater runoff into Lady Bird Lake.  This is done with new native plants, retention walls, and other obstacles that will slow down stormwater runoff and reduce erosion. 

As you may expect, 2020 hasn’t been all good news for the Trails Foundation. The organization depends on volunteers to maintain the trail, remove invasive species, and repair habitat along it.  As such, they’ve paused volunteer days until January (COVID dependent). 

The Trail Foundation says that even with the volunteer restrictions they’ve managed to plant more than 5,200 trees and have installed a "floating wetland" to help repair damage to the environment from boardwalk construction and use. 

The work is never done though. A safety and mobility study has been done focusing on how Austin’s explosive growth has impacted the trail and how residents see and experience it.  It will deal with lighting, trail width, and navigational issues as reported by the community. 

The safety and mobility study will be presented in January.