Violet Crown Trail

On August 14, the first six miles of Violet Crown Trail, a planned 30 miles of trail that will extend from Zilker Park into Hays County – connecting the park and Barton Springs Pool to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the Veloway – opened to the public. Once completed, the trail will be the longest of its kind in Central Texas. The Hill Country Conservancy is leading the project, with support from the City of Austin, the Austin Parks Foundation and Texas Parks & Wildlife.

The project has been in the making since 1998, when voters approved the first purchase of water quality protection lands. That led to more than 15 years of strategic land acquisition and planning (some 23,000 acres in central Texas to preserve sensitive water quality protection lands), and in 2010, the approval of a master plan for a pathway to connect these areas, which became known as Violet Crown Trail. The trail represents the greater vision of Hill Country Conservancy’s work to get people out on the land and experience the views, clean streams, and wildlife that abound in Central Texas.

You can access the portion of the trail that recently opened a couple of different ways:

  • Begin at Barton Creek Greenbelt’s 0.0 mile marker, located at the Zilker Park trailhead by the Barton Springs pool parking lot. From the 0.0 mile marker, follow the main Barton Creek Greenbelt trail until it intersects with Gains Creek, at approximately the 4-mile marker (past the Hwy 360 trailhead). There, the two trails diverge and Violet Crown Trail begins.
  • Begin directly at the start of the new trail at the new Hwy 290 trailhead, near the intersection of Brodie Lane and Hwy 290 Service Road.

Tip: Not sure where the trailheads are? For details about either of the above options, check out “The Complete Guide to Austin Greenbelt Access Points and Trails.”

VCT-Segment1-Map_sized

Phase two of the project is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2016 and will extend the trail from Hwy 290 to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the Veloway. Phase three will extend it all the way to the Water Quality Protection Lands.

The Violet Crown Trail Final Master Plan sums it up best: “Simply put, the [Violet Crown Trail] offers outdoor enthusiasts access to some of the most beautiful, native landscapes of the Texas Hill Country. The preserved Water Quality Protection Lands not only protect a significant portion of the rural community’s drinking water, they also preserve in perpetuity iconic and irreplaceable landscapes for residents to enjoy for decades to come.”

Featured photo credit: Hanna Cofer

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