A New City Trail

Had a change of pace for today’s ride. Maggie suggested we check out the South Walnut Creek Trail. It’s a brand new trail the city has just completed on the east side of Austin.

The trail is about 15 miles long, and it’s concrete all the way. On this quiet Sunday morning, the trailhead at Govalle (Go-valley) Park had only a few cars in the parking lot.

Govalle Park. This Google Streetview picture was obviously not taken in the middle of summer.

Govalle Park. This Google Streetview picture was obviously not taken in the middle of summer. (Click all pix to enlarge.)

We took our bikes off the rack and got moving. The trail is easy. Mostly flat, but lots of curves. At some places, it crosses city streets at level grade, but elsewhere, it passes under highways. In any case, you don’t have to stop at all along the way, unless you really want to.

Typical view along the trail. From the City of Austin Walnut Creek Trail System website.

Typical view along the trail. From the City of Austin Walnut Creek Trail System website.

Railings along some parts of the trail keep cyclists from going over the edge and down a short cliff.

Picture from the City of Austin Walnut Creek Trail System website.

Picture from the City of Austin Walnut Creek Trail System website.

Some of the bridges are narrow. Cyclists have to be alert for oncoming traffic, especially on the curves, which are often blind.

We had a couple of close calls when we couldn't see oncoming cyclists, and they were taking the curves too tight.

We had a couple of close calls when we couldn’t see oncoming cyclists, and they were taking the curves too tight.

After a few miles, we found ourselves riding along farmland. Interesting thing is, this land is still within the city limits.

See the cyclists ahead of us?

See the cyclists ahead of us?

In other parts, we passed dense woodlands. Again, we’re still inside the city.

Hard to believe there are light industrial sites just a few blocks away.

Hard to believe there are light industrial sites just a few blocks away.

After going nine and a half miles, we could hear gunshots nearby. They sounded like shotgun blasts, but we could see nothing because of dense brush at the side of the trail. We concluded the shots were coming from a shooting range, but felt more comfortable turning back.

That meant our ride was only 19-plus miles for the day. That was fine with us. The temperature was heating up fast, Maggie’s back was bothering her, and the presta valve on my rear tire broke. I could ride, but I could feel the soft tire holding down my speed. No matter. We got back to the park fine, and made plans to come back again.

The trail is billed as a transportation alternative for people who live on the east side of Austin, an historically disadvantaged area. On a Sunday morning, we saw only recreational cyclists like ourselves. Whether it becomes a mecca for commuting cyclists, or a favored route for just-for-fun riders, we welcome its addition to the city’s cycling infrastructure. This will be an idea place for my wife to bring her hybrid. We’ll be back again soon.

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