With an estimated 194,000 dogs according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, Austin, Texas is quite possibly the most dog-friendly city in the world. Despite Austin’s status as an emerging tech hub, the work culture of the city is more relaxed than in many other places, and residents love using leisure hours to spend quality outdoor time with their pets. Here are some of the top spots in the city for you to hang out with your furry loved ones.
Barton Creek Greenbelt
3755 S Capital of Texas Hwy B, Austin, TX 78704
The famous Barton Creek Greenbelt is the most popular park area in Austin, and from the abundant woods, trails, springs and greenery, we can see why! There is a variety of access points to choose from should you want to access the 809 acre, 7.9 mile nature reserve. Along the trails you’ll come across plenty of caves, crags, swimming holes and overhanging cliffs. The relatively flat topography with numerous rock-free paths makes this a great place to go on dog-friendly adventure hikes, but watch out for the mountain bikers! In the hot summer months, hiking the greenbelt down to the crystal clear Barton Springs pool is a great way for you and your pet to cool off.
Red Bud Isle
3401 Redbud Trail, Austin, TX
Located between two of Austin’s most exclusive communities, West Lake Hills and Tarrytown, Red Bud Isle is a great park to take your pooch on a sunny day. The park area sits on Lady Bird Lake or “Town Lake,” – as some old school Austinites might say – and is situated just below the Lake Austin dam. When the dam is allowing water out of Lake Austin and into Town Lake, which is more often than not, the water around the park is cool and refreshing. It’s not uncommon to see unleashed dogs running around and happily pouncing in and out of the water. With plenty of trees and abundant green areas, the park area is shaped similar to a peninsula, surrounded by water on three sides. If you decide to remove the leash – which is allowed here – and your pup wanders out of sight, the terrain should help you relocate him/her relatively quickly. The big downside here is finding a place to leave your car, with visitors complaining of long waits during peak hours for the 20 parking spaces available. Also, traffic on the Emmett Shelton bridge, which connects the two sides of the lake and used to be a great semi-secretive shortcut to avoid traffic on Mopac, has increased dramatically over the last few years. The park is still accessible during rush hours but, if possible, we recommend visiting during off hours should you be driving there.
Shoal Creek Greenbelt
2600 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX
Located in West Austin, the Shoal Creek Greenbelt is a favorite spot for nature lovers and pet owners alike. This beautiful 81-acre green space is full of trees, creek beds, paths and trails where bikers, joggers and enthusiastic pets hanging out with their parents abound! The area after 25th street is leash free, but unless your pets are well trained to stay close by, be careful when removing their leashes, as the sheer size of this park makes it easier for dogs and their owners to get themselves lost!
Bull Creek District Park
6701 Lakewood Dr, Austin, TX 78731
With beautiful views and landscapes, Bull Creek offers free parking with easy access and plenty of trails for hiking and cycling. The creek features a great swimming spot with a waterfall that’s full year round. On the negative side, there have been quite a few reports of car break-ins in the parking area off Lakewood and Capital of Texas HWY, and dogs are required to be on a leash at all times.
Norwood Estate Dog Park
1009 Edgecliff Terrace, Austin, TX 78704
Norwood is a spacious and popular spot to take your dog. If you get tired of playing frisbee or fetch, there are plenty of lawn chairs and benches in the shade for dog parents to rest and recover, and lots of fresh water for pets. A section of the park is reserved for smaller dogs, and a bamboo forest in the middle of the park adds to the charm. On the other hand, there are quite a few dirt patches and wood chips here, so especially active pets may need a shower or paw wash when playtime is over. Many owners have complained about excessive droppings in the area, so make sure to pick up after your pet and watch your step!
Harris Ridge Dog Park
Sebastian Bend, Pflugerville, TX 78660
This North Austin park located in Pflugerville is divided into two spaces for small (under 25 lbs.) and bigger dogs. Water availability is limited and it has fewer green areas than other Austin parks. This combined with the steep elevation and erosion in some sections of the park means that, with little warning, authorities close the park after or before expected rains.
West Austin Neighborhood Park
1317 W 10th St, Austin, TX 78703
This urban park in downtown Austin features a fenced leashless area for dogs and plenty of shade, water and poop bags for your pet (in case you forgot yours). The fenced area is a dirt patch and the park isn’t quite as green as other parks in Austin, so things can get muddy after it rains. The pool and picnic tables available can also get quite crowded when the weather’s nice, but West Austin remains a great location to take your dog if you find yourself in the downtown area.