Getting Outdoors: Austin Style

I'm a big proponent of getting outdoors.  If you've followed much of my blog, or seen my website, you know that I believe nature to be an integral part of our well-being.  More and more these days, research is showing that our detachment from nature, the natural order of things, and our own human nature, is having a significant impact on us; our mental, physical, and emotional health are all being affected.

At Emma Long Park with my dog, Boogie

If you want a quick boost of happy, calm, centered feelings...head outdoors.  If you struggle with anxiety, depression, ADHD...head outdoors.  If you are having a bad day, a frenetic day, or a "why am I here?" day...head outdoors.  Nature always tops my list, for my own personal well-being as well as a professional recommendation as a therapist.  I know the activation energy can be hard.  It is so easy to say, "After I do this load of laundry", "After I finish this paper", or "Maybe I'll just watch an episode of Law & Order instead."  But really, get up, get'll never regret it.

If you are in Austin, there are a plethora of beautiful places to walk, think, and play.  Here I've shared with you a few of my favorites - just in case you need a little more nature in your life.

Emma Long Metropolitan Park
1706 City Park Rd, Austin, TX 78730

Emma Long is a beautiful piece of the hill country, west of Austin off of 2222. Turkey Creek hiking trail takes you far away from roads and buildings, through the woods, where dogs  (and humans!) can run off-leash.   There are also camping and park grounds that are great for cooking out, swimming, and general family fun.

Wild Basin Nature Preserve
805 North Capital of Texas Highway  Austin, Texas 78746

Wild Basin is a beautiful 227 acres in west Austin.  Over 2.5 miles of hiking trails criss-cross the property, with varying levels of difficulty.  Some trails open up onto amazing views of the hill country.  Guided hikes available, keep an eye out for the endangered species you can spot out here!

Town Lake Trail

Town Lake Trail is a 10-mile hike and bike trail that wraps around Lady Bird Lake (the portion of the Colorado River that runs through downtown Austin).  A well-worn trail that is entirely lakeside - what this trail lacks in solitude, it makes up for in personality, location, and approachability.  A great place to walk with a friend or ride your bike.  Stay away from the very center of town (S. Congress/S. First areas) if you are looking for quieter walking.

Shoal Creek Trail
31st and Lamar

Shoal Creek Trail follows Shoal Creek north and south through the middle of Austin.  It varies between quiet nature paths and road-level biking paths - but the quieter spots away from Lamar are beautiful places to get away for a head-clearing run.  I recommend the portion of the trail that begins at 31st, where the trail drops below road level; you can almost forget you are in the middle of town.

Barton Creek Greenbelt 
Various locations throughout town

The Austin Greenbelt is one of my favorite aspects of this city.  All over South Austin there are pockets of secluded nature that provide awesome opportunities for walking, running, biking, rock-climbing, and general nature-adoring and exploring.  I encourage you to not miss out on the wetter weather months on the Greenbelt, when Barton Creek runs full.

It is remarkable that Austin has kept such stunning pieces of wild nature intact within our city limits - all you need is an hour...although I'd recommend giving yourself several to really de-stress and reconnect.  Take your dog, your kids, or just your journal, and let yourself remember the magic and peace of just BEing in this world.

If you are interested in a guided therapeutic experience in the outdoors, look no further than my Nature Therapy Group, being held at Wild Basin on Nov 17th.  Please click here for more info.

I'm always looking for more places to visit - where are your favorite spots in and around Austin to reconnect with nature, and yourself?