When Texas temperatures start to warm up, head to Austin’s own Barton Creek greenbelt for an off-road run on shaded trails. Managed by the Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD), the greenbelt is a popular area for runners, hikers, mountain bikers, and rock climbers. The main trail starts at the west end of the Barton Springs pool parking lot and ends at what is commonly referred to as “the Hill of Life” trailhead at Camp Craft Road and Scottish Woods Trail, just west of Loop 360. The main trail is approximately 7.25 miles from point to point, but it’s the side trails that can provide a change of scenery!
The Sweet 16 trail is a fantastic detour from the main trail and is about two miles long. Start at the Barton Creek Greenbelt East Trailhead (also known as the 360 / Toys R Us access) and go west on the main trail for about a mile before taking a sharp left to follow a side creek and the start of the Sweet 16. After many twists and turns, the trail eventually pops out onto a barricaded side road just off Southwest Parkway near MoPac for a very obvious turn-around point that can be filled with wildflowers. Follow the trail back to the 360 access for a 5.5 mile out-and-back route.
The Sweet 16 offers some beautiful, rolling, and shaded single-track trails. The terrain is considered technical because of its combination of rocks, small boulders, roots, and the occasional fallen tree. Creek crossings are often dry, but after a good rain, plan for wet feet! New trails added this spring can make navigation somewhat tricky, so download the .gpx or .kml from the MapMyRun link and add it to a GPS device, if possible. Otherwise, plan to have fun and explore.
To access the Sweet 16, park at the Barton Creek greenbelt east trailhead, located at 3755-B South Capital of Texas Highway, Austin, TX 78704 (near the intersection of MoPac and Loop 360). Enter the trail and take a left onto the main trail. Note: Be careful to lock valuables in your trunk, as thefts can be a problem at trailhead locations.