In town climbing and easy access to trails

Posted on January 24th, 2011

Starting a business is very time consuming. That is why you haven’t seen a lot of posts from me lately. But during these past two weeks I was able to get outdoors TWICE, and get some climbing in. Living in Austin has it’s advantages when it comes to rock climbing, so I thought I would share about the greatness of living in Austin when it comes to outdoor activity.

You may know from my previous posts that I was dead set on moving to Colorado, but Austin has always been my second choice in terms of where I wanted to live. Granted there are no mountains here, there is surprisingly a lot of climbing options nearby, as well as access to great trails for running and biking.

Just five minutes from my house is access to The Greenbelt trail, which includes access to rock climbing, mountain biking, running and even swimming during the Spring and early Summer. If you travel two miles north of where I live, you have access to running and biking trails around Town Lake. If you are into canoeing or kayaking, they offer that too. The University of Texas crew team even practices here.

Rock climbers on the Austin Greenebelt

Rock climbers on the Austin Greenebelt

The Greenbelt

Hiking along the Greenbelt trail. Great for a long run or adventurous mountain bike ride.

With numerous access points in town it makes for a quick getaway into the outdoors. Early mornings during the week are the best time to go if you are looking for solitude. I’ve gone on morning runs and not even encountered another human being. If you are a rock climber like myself, there are numerous developed walls along the trail and there is usually a pretty good crowd at each wall in the late afternoon and early evening. If you don’t have a climbing partner, just show up and somebody is bound to give you a belay.

The trails are also well maintained and are often filled with runners and mountain bikers, but trails were wide enough traffic is not an issue when bikes come through. The total length of the trail is 8 miles, which makes for a stellar, long trail run or an out and back bike ride. The trail goes under two main highways in Austin, but it doesn’t take too long before you are away from the noise of traffic, feeling like you are miles away from civilization.

Reimer’s Ranch

This is where most local climbers go for their weekend climbing. There are also great mountain bike trails and the Pedernales River for fishing. This well developed crag (with even more climbs going up) offers climbs ranging from 20 feet high to 45+ feet high. The grades of the climb range from 5.5 to a very difficult 5.13. Climbers of all abilities flock here for their weekend climbing. My only complaint is that it can often feel like an outdoor gym when the weather is really nice. This past weekend the walls were full of boy scouts, church groups and hard core climbers alike. But there is plenty of room for everybody, and enough climbs at every grade to keep everybody happy.

Climbing at Reimer's Ranch. The climb is Lipo Suction (5.12)

Enchanted Rock

Perhaps the most pristine, beautiful rock formation in South Texas. This giant granite dome protrudes from the Texas Hill Country, just north of Fredricksburg. There are numerous other granite formations towering out of the ground as well. This is the premier destination for trad and three pitch sport climbs in South Texas. At Enchanted Rock you will experience fresh air, gorgeous scenery, and an amazing outdoor experience. This has been one of my favorite destinations, even before I moved to Austin. With a mere hour and a half drive, E-Rock (as the locals call it), makes for an easy day trip with excellent climbing.

A climber on Orange Peel (5.10) in Enchanted Rock State Park. Enchanted Rock is my favorite place to climb in Texas.

Camping at Enchanted Rock is plentiful, but you better make a reservation. Spots often fill up weeks before. But, if you don’t mind a 2-3 mile hike in you can always camp in the primitive area. This makes for easier access to the longer climbs on the back side of the dome. It’s also more secluded – unless there happens to be a Boy Scout troop nearby. Enchanted Rock also offers miles of hiking trails, including an easy hike up to the top of the dome. It’s very popular amongst the tourists. And, if you are a rock climber, expect a crowd to be watching you climb. It’s almost unnoticeable though, especially on the back side of the dome, because most tourists are off the climbing trail, a couple hundred yards from the wall.

Town Lake

View of downtown Austin from Town Lake trail.

While Town Lake doesn’t offer any climbing. It’s an excellent place for a long or short run, or bike ride. You can chose a three, four, or eight mile loop – or make your run even longer by making another lap around the lake. The Town Lake trail also has numerous access points as well. Even though there are often crowds here, the trail is plenty wide for passing in both directions. There is also a boat rental shop on the lake where you can rent canoes, kayaks, and other water related crafts. The best times to run on the trail are mid day and late evening. I always find running during peak hours energizing though. I tend to run better when other people are around. I feed off the energy of other runners.

If you are an outdoor enthusiast like myself, Austin is a GREAT place to live. There is a huge fitness and outdoors community and plenty of ways to get involved. If you are a cyclist or runner most all the shops in town offer group rides and runs. There are also a couple of different rock climbing groups that make getting plugged into the climbing community very easy. The easy access to recreation is one of my favorite things about this awesome city. I couldn’t see myself living anywhere else in Texas. If I ever move away, there is a good chance it will be some place like Boulder where recreational access is just as easy and the landscape is an added bonus.

In other news, Adventure Naturals is now FULLY funded on Kickstarter, but please keep those donations coming. Our startup costs exceed the $5,000 we raised already. All excess funds will go directly back into the business. We especially need help with the advertising and promotion side of things. Especially in our early stages.