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Barton Creek Greenbelt

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Ivan Collins Last updated on Oct 08, 2021 by

An Introduction to Barton Creek Greenbelt
I've been coming to Barton Creek Greenbelt since first arriving to Austin in 1994. While Lady Bird Lake may get more volume of joggers and hikers, it's a totally different experience than the emersion of nature you get from Barton Creek. Initially I rode my mountain bike and hung out with friends at the main water holes. I had a brief run with rock climbing a few of the key pitches and later learned to kayak the high water season and even pushed myself to the limit there during a few flash floods. I don't know of any other cities that feature a perfect, all natural adventure park a few miles from downtown.

Swimming Holes on Barton Creek
By far the most popular activity on Barton Creek is lounging at the 4 main water holes. The Flats and Cambell's Hole are about a mile up river from Barton Springs, but most people access this area by parking along the street where Barton Skyway dead ends at Spyglass Drive off Mopac. The flats can get pretty busy with drum circles, lots of furry friends, families, even people BBQing. That is when the water is flowing at a decent pace. The area tends to die down when Barton Creek flow is low or dry.  Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls will still have water when the Flats has mostly run dry. They are both accessed from a turnaround road off of Mopac heading southbound from Hwy 360.  Lost Creek offers another, quieter entry with a decent water fall. There's also a large cliff and deep swimming hole between the 360 entrance and the Flats where brave souls will jump from several points that range from 15 - 100 feet above the water. Use this link to check the flow rate at Barton Creek.

Mountain Biking on Barton Creek
My favorite mountain biking trail in Austin, Barton Creek Greenbelt offers an out and back experience that requires a bit of a commitment. You can ride it from Barton Springs pool, but that first 1.5 miles is annoyingly rocky and always overworked my girlfriend when she joined me. I prefer to enter again at Barton Skyway and ride from there to Sculpture Falls and back which is a solid 12 mile ride that requires crossing the creek a few times and the "opportunity" to carry your bike on your shoulder as you use large metal chains bolted into the wall to help traverse an area where the trail fades to a cliff's edge that helps you feel like you're really pushing your limits.

Kayaking on Barton Creek
My latest and probably favorite activity is kayaking Barton Creek during high water. We use $99 single and two man kayaks featured in the gallery below that you can buy at Academy.  You need about 200 cubic feet per second of flow to really avoid having to get out and walk you kayak. It's pretty rocking at 1000 cfs and nothing short of dangerous at 2000 cfs in a plastic kayak, but more experienced types with hard kayaks hit it hard at that flow. Here's another link to Barton Creek flow rate to help you plan your adventure.

Rock Climbing on Barton Creek
My rock climbing experience was limited to 2-3 sessions going up practice pitches. But there's a range of options here that vary from 50 feet 5.8 climbs to some where you'll occasionally see a person hanging upside down from the underside of a cliff like you can see in the image below that we borrowed from the Seismic Wall page on Mountainproject.com. I'm looking for a partner to link to here for more resources so check back when you can.
Guess the pitch on this one?

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