Did you know Lance Armstrong was from Austin? There’s a reason for that. Located right on the edge of the Texas Hill Country, it’s one of the best cycling cities in the US, with a wealth of routes for all levels of interest and endurance. So if you’re a two-wheeled fanatic, here are our tips on where’s best to take a ride in Texas.
If you want to get out of town but not too far, head down to the Veloway in southwest Austin. With a 3.1mi (5km) loop, as well as shorter options, the wide, smooth Veloway is built specifically for bicycles and Rollerblades. No automobiles or pedestrians are allowed. This stress-free loop is the perfect choice for a leisurely ride where you can hangout with friends.
Marking the western edge of Austin’s urban core is the Capital of Texas Highway, also known as the Loop 360 or the 360 Loop. Purposefully kept free of development within eyeshot, this highway boasts some of the most beautiful and famous urban views within the city limits, making it extremely popular with cyclists. It’s hilly terrain and a lovely route to cycle, but not during rush hour when clogged lanes can lead to traffic accidents.
Bonus: If you take this ride in December, you’ll get to enjoy all the Christmas decorations that pop up on the shrubs and trees lining the highway.
Since 1999, the Lance Armstrong Bikeway has been the premier bike trail for cyclists in Austin. The concrete route is about 5mi (8km) long and takes riders along Lady Bird Lake; the shaded trail passes lakeside parks and under the I-35 on a path to Downtown Austin. East of the freeway, the bikeway connects to the Plaza Saltillo train station, which makes for a nice connection stop on a long commute.
After a long wait, Austin opened this 7mi (11km) paved bike trail in East Austin in 2016. It’s the latest instalment of a continuing, citywide paved trail expansion to give previously underserved parts of town access to smooth routes into and out of the city. Enjoy this urban trail for both commuting and the pleasure of riding around town without the traffic jams.
Catering to adrenaline seekers, Farm-to-Market 2222 is one of the steepest bike rides in the city. It’s also dangerous. If you’re a seasoned rider, the route is well-traveled and has the reputation of being a lot of fun. The road is carved through the limestone cliff face of west Austin, keeping you barreling up and down hills as you coast around sharp curves, only to be greeted by a heavy climb. Be warned: there is no shoulder, so be hyper-aware of traffic.
Just outside the city limits is Willow City Loop – a popular springtime cycling route. Every year the highway is bursting with colorful bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes and other wildflowers. This scenic 13mi (21km) road takes you to Fredericksburg, Texas, leading you across hills and creeks and offering beautiful views of meadows and valleys along the way.