Sometimes we get so caught up in the busy, hectic lifestyle of getting the kids to practices, games, birthday parties, school functions, etc. that we need time to reconnect as a family. We need to slow down and enjoy each other without a million distractions. So if you’re looking for a very easy, centrally-located way to regroup with the family, enjoy the outdoors, and feel like you’re on a mini-adventure, try a hike along the Shoal Creek Trail.

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Built in the early 1960s, the Shoal Creek Trail is the city’s oldest and includes 3 miles of terrain from N. Lamar to Lady Bird Lake, passing Pease Park along the way (map). The trail’s surface is less groomed than some of our local trails, so be careful with your footing on some rocky spots (not ideal for a stroller). A highlight of the trail is the small canyon near the northern end which our Content Manager, Heidi, recently checked out with her family of five (and dog). Read about her experience…

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On a recent Sunday, we decided to go for a mid-morning hike and discovered a really interesting section of the Shoal Creek Trail that had us forgetting that we were in the center of Austin. We parked near Bailey Park and entered the trail at the corner of N. Lamar Blvd. and 31st St — just at the Renner Project’s sign featuring a raccoon that says “You are Awesome.”

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As soon as we passed through the bamboo entrance, we were amazed to be stepping into a small canyon. The rock overhangs are so impressive and make you feel like you’ve transported yourself far from the city. Be sure to watch your head as you pass through, as some spots are very low.

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We walked through this really cool section of the trail until we reached Pease Park, noting the creek to our side and finding treasures along the path such as cool spiders and a long snake skin. (Note that lots of folks jog and bike through the trail, so be sure to keep an eye out and instruct the kids to move over to the side to let them through.) Once we got to Pease, my youngest started whining to go home, and we decided to call it a success and pack things up then. Even though we didn’t take a long hike, we had such a great time with such little effort. We didn’t set out to make a day of it. In fact, we didn’t even pack snacks or any gear. But we were thrilled to simply drive 5 min. from home and take a short hike that made us feel like we were on a nice little mini family adventure. Total success!

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Next time, we may pick a different section of the trail, or perhaps we’ll try to go on a longer hike. But for an easy Sunday, our little hike was just perfect.