Hiking trails, outdoor activities, and natural parks have become a much more attractive destination over the past two years. They have always been a great way to escape the busy life in the city, but today they are also a great way to enjoy your free time without having to worry about the COVID pandemic. While many metropolitan cities do not have such locations nearby, Austin is not one of them. In fact, residents of Austin have access to a long list of beautiful trails that are ideal for all sorts of outdoor activities and experiences – the River Place Nature Trail, Walnut Creek Trail, Great Hills Park Trail, and others. Of course, we cannot skip Austin’s crown jewel when it comes to enjoying the outdoors – the Barton Creek Greenbelt.

Barton Creek Greenbelt is a very popular open space in Austin that is 7.9 miles long with 809 acres and begins at Zilker Park. There are sheer limestone cliff walls, dense lush vegetation, and popular swimming areas.

Barton Creek Greenbelt is one of the most accessible and popular destination for athletes, tourists and fans of the outdoors in Austin. The easiest access point is the Loop 360 access with gently sloping cutback trails so that everyone can enjoy the trail. Of course, it packs more than just a simple hiking trail – visitors can choose between all sorts of outdoor activities. It is popular among bikers, rock climbers, and even swimmers. It is also ideal for bouldering, or even as a leisure spot if you feel like spending some time near the Barton Creek. Regardless if you choose the pristine swimming holes or the marvelous limestone bluffs, you are guaranteed to have a great experience. 

The Barton Creek Greenbelt has over 12 miles of hiking trails, and visitors can use one of the many access points to start their journey. While the Upper Greenbelt is more solitary, you might want to stick to the Lower Greenbelt if you are looking for more entertainment. The Barton Creek Greenbelt map tells you just about everything you need to know about the points of interest in the area, as well as where to head if you are looking for hiking, climbing, swimming, or mountain biking. 

Barton Creek Greenbelt Map

One of the primary reasons for the Barton Creek Greenbelt’s popularity is how close it is to downtown – few other cities in America can offer such an experience. Unfortunately, because of its impressive size and location, it can sometimes be a bit confusing for people who have not been there previously. One of the most important things to remember about the Barton Creek Greenbelt map is the access points that you can use to get started on your trip, or to find a restroom and dispose of your trash.

Talking of trash and restrooms, here are some of the important tips that you must remember before exploring Barton Creek Greenbelt for the first time.

  • There is no problem taking your dog alongside. However, you must remember that they should be on a leash at all times.
  • You need to be prepared for the hiking trail. You will not find any water fountains, garbage cans, or restrooms alongside the trails. These are only available at the access points that we will talk about in a bit.

You need to plan accordingly and be ready to carry your trash until you reach one of the access points where you will be able to dispose of it. 

Now that these important details are out of the question, let’s see how the Barton Creek Greenbelt map looks. The area can be separated in three separate areas – Lower Greenbelt, Upper Greenbelt, and the Barton Creek Wilderness Park. All of them are reachable through different access points, and they have various great experiences to offer. 

Map of Barton Creek Greenbelt

Lower Greenbelt

The Lower Greenbelt starts from the Zilker Park and ends at the Loop 360 Access Point. In total, you can enter it either via the latter access point, or through Spyglass Access, Gus Fruh Access, and Zilker Access. If is the most accessible part of the Barton Creek Greenbelt if you are coming from downtown. Unsurprisingly, it is also one of the favorite starting points for newcomers. 

The rules for undertaking this trail are the same as above – bring water, take a trip to the restroom before heading off, and make sure your dog is on a leash if you are bringing it along. Depending on the route you take, your hike through the Lower Greenbelt will be about 7.5 miles.

The Lower Greenbelt is especially popular among climbers as it hosts some of the best cliffs to practice this sport/hobby. Alongside the path of the Lower Greenbelt, you will find some of the area’s most notable climbing spots – read more about them in one of this article’s next sections.

This section of the Barton Creek Greenbelt map also includes some of the most popular access points to the trail:

  1. Zilker Access – (see map below) From I-35 exit on Riverside and head west.  Drive 1.5 miles to Barton Creek Rd and turn left (west).  Drive one mile past the Lamar intersection and the Zilker Park entrance will be on your left.  The Zilker trail access will be west of the Zilker Pool. Use this entrance if you are planning on riding a bike or if you need to lose a few more pounds.
  2. Spyglass Access – (see map above) From Mopac/Loop 1 exit on Barton Skyway and head east.  Barton Skyway will dead end in less than half a mile.  The trail begins where the road ends.  Use this access to reach the New Wall/Great Wall.  This access can be used to access Gus Fruh 
  3. Gus Fruh Access – (see map below) From I-35 exit on Riverside and head west.  Drive 1.5 miles to Barton Creek Rd and turn left (west).  Drive about one mile past the Lamar intersection and turn left on Robert E Lee Rd.  Take the first right on Barton Hills Dr.  Continue down Barton Hills for exactly 2 miles.  The access is in the middle of  residential neighborhood on the right near the intersection of Barton Hills Dr. and Horseshoe Bend Cove.  Use this access to climb at Gus Fruh and Urban Assault
  4. Loop 360 Access – (see below) From I-35 head west on Ben White Blvd.  Ben White Blvd will become 360 (a.k.a. Capitol of Texas Highway).  After Ben White Blvd becomes 360 the road will head down a steep hill.  This will be approximately 1/4 mile from Mopac/Loop 1.  Turn right at the light on the steep hill and turn into the bank parking lot.  The trail access will be located at west side of the bank parking lot.  Use this access to climb at Seismic Wall and Bee Hive Wall.

Upper Greenbelt

The Upper Greenbelt has some great swimming holes, but keep in mind that they might not all be available year-round. Often, during drier periods without rain, some of the Upper Greenbelt water holes will be empty. But even then you will have no trouble spending some time in Barton Creek’s pristine waters. 

Climbing opportunities are not that many in this part of the Barton Creek Greenbelt map. However, you will certainly have plenty of space to walk your dog, have a picnic, or hike the trails in the area. Keep in mind that this part of the Barton Creek Greenbelt map has a lot of downhill and uphill movement, so the trail paths can be a bit more tiring – but they are certainly not a major challenge. 

The Upper Greenbelt hike is certainly the place to go if you are looking for pretty greenery in the Austin area – no other trail can match it. Alongside the main hiking trail, you will find lots of short paths that will take you even deeper into the oak and juniper woods of the Barton Creek trail. 

Barton Creek Wilderness Park

The Barton Creek Wilderness Park is one of the largest in the Austin area, and it is an ideal place to seek your next short hiking trip, or to explore the beautiful nature of Texas. In addition to hiking and leisure, the wilderness of the Barton Creek Wilderness Park is great for mountain biking, bird watching, and checking out the local waterfalls – Sculpture Falls and Twin Falls. 

Near Sculpture Falls, you will discover one of the most enjoyable trails belonging to the Barton Creek Greenbelt map – the Sculpture Falls Loop. It takes you on a 4.2 mi trip, and you will experience an elevation of around 600 feet – turning it into a moderate hiking trail experience. If you plan on undertaking this trip, make sure to bring proper shoes as you are about to pass through rocky terrain. 

Photos of the Barton Creek Greenbelt

If you are still contemplating whether to visit the seventh best hiking trail in Texas, then here are some more reasons why you should do this. Check out these great photos of the area, displaying some of the marvelous swimming areas, climbing walls, mountain bike trails and, of course, the marvelous waterfalls. 

Tunnel Vision -  Photo taken by Eric Chesebro
A stop to relax and enjoy Gus Fruh
Pulling the Roof
Face On
Route named Butt Scratch

Barton Creek Climbing

As mentioned earlier, you should look at the lower part of the Barton Creek Greenbelt map if you are looking for climbing experiences. It is home to some of the best climbing spots in Austin:

  1. Enclave – Tucked away in a little pocket en route to New Wall. Great diversion for an afternoon.
  2. New Wall / Great Wall – Next to Terrace – Access for New Wall Take exit for Barton Skyway, turn left over Mopac and head downhill. Locate parking near the “T” intersection. Get yer gear and cross over the gaurd rail. Turn right at the creek. Go for about one half mile. This takes you to New wall, the Great Wall and the Random Walls
  3. Gus Fruh – Gus Fruh Trail is an access trail from Barton Hills Drive down to the main Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail. It boasts easy access to several climbing walls and a deep swimming hole when the water is flowing.
  4. Urban Assault – Urban Assault is the big white buttress on the west side of the creek. Steep face, big roof
  5. Kirk \ Alvin’s Wall & Airman’s Cave – Park at 360 access and walk downstream (north) down barton creek, pass airmans cave and look for this wall on the right-hand bank (east.)
  6. Five Eight Sanctuary – 1/4 mile upstream of Seismic Wall. Same side of the creek.
  7. Seismic Wall – Find the Barton Creek Greenbelt sign and enter there. Walk down to the creek, the wall is directly across the (usually dry) creek.

Another great spot is the Beehive Wall, which is about half a mile under the Loop 360 access point. It has twelve routes to explore, but keep in mind that you might encounter plenty of traffic at this specific location during the winter months. 

For the best possible experience, we advise you to schedule you visit for the spring – during this period the creek tends to be a bit more full. Of course, rest assured that visiting during other periods will make for an awesome experience as well – you just might not discover all of the beauties that the Barton Creek Greenbelt has in store for you. 

Simon Trask
Author: Simon Trask

Simon loves Texas and the Great Outdoors. From East Texas pines to West Texas mountains, he calls North Texas home but is always ready to float a river in Hill Country or go fishing on the Gulf Coast. Simon loves camping and road trips as well, whether it's cruising Highway 287, 82, 69 or 281, that's the true way to see what Texas is all about!

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