Escape the Austin heat and traffic with a relaxing hike along the Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail. Slip away from the hustle of the city and soak in a little nature

Outside of the fantastic job market, one of the most magical things about Austin is how quickly you can go from city life to being immersed in nature. Nearly every day, I take a quick jaunt down to the Barton Creek Greenbelt with my trusty companion, Sage the Chocolate Lab. We live within walking distance of the Greenbelt, but you can park for free anywhere along Spyglass and drop down the trailhead across from Taco Deli. You can also access the trail from Zilker Park near the wonderful Barton Springs Pool.

We go down the short gravel trailhead across from Taco Deli and head downstream which more or less heads north toward Zilker Park and downtown Austin. Depending on recent rainfall, the creek where you enter the trail may or may not have water in it. From roughly October until central Texas receives spring rains, the creek is mostly dry. But do not fear, a short hike down the trail takes you to a couple holes that always have water.

As you meander along the trail, be careful of the exposed flat rocks as they can be slick with dust or dew. Watch your step and bring appropriate shoes! As you head north, you will encounter the flats. This special area of exposed, jagged rocks that jut out of the ground at interesting angles is a great place to lay out and soak in the sun.

Just a little farther down the trail you will come to Campbell’s Hole. Easily the most popular swimming hole on this stretch of the trail, Campbell’s Hole is a large, deep spot along the creek that holds water all year round. You could not design a better swimming hole. The water is surrounded by clean gravel that’s perfect for setting up a few camping chairs. In the summer months, you will find most folks setting up their chairs right in the creek. While not specifically allowed, inevitably folks bring a cooler with adult beverages. Just be careful, you never want your Sunday Funday ruined by a run-in with the authorities.

Once you get your feet wet in Campbell’s hole, you can dry off by finishing off the trail. The creek continues to wind through some small bluffs which give you a good vantage point to spot turtles, bass, and sunfish looking for an easy meal. If you can scramble down to the creek, you can likely find a spot to get a fishing line wet. Check the regulations, but I recommend practicing catch and release.

The trail continues along the creek with an array of beautiful photographic opportunities. If you’re bringing the camera, I recommend hiking early in the morning during sunrise to capture the songbirds and dew still dripping off the leaves or  in the evening to catch the sunset through the overhanging branches!

Enjoy the hike and be careful on the rocks! 

Pack List

  • Softside cooler
  • Soft drinks (alcohol at your own risk)
  • Beach towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Camera
  • Hiking shoes
  • Bathing suit

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RT Distance 3 Miles
Activities Chillin, Fishing, Photography, Running, Swimming, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Adult Beverages
Dog Friendly
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Romantic
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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