Even though we’re over 200 miles inland, Austin now has a boardwalk.
After years of study and almost two years of construction, the Boardwalk Trail on the south side of Lady Bird Lake opened today. This new 1.2 mile pathway connects the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail near the Austin American-Statesman property to Lakeshore Park on the east side of I-35. Since the city did not own much right-of-way access on the south side of the lake, an elevated boardwalk was built right over the water. This trail completes a 10.1 mile loop from the western pedestrian bridge under Mopac to the eastern dam/bridge at Pleasant Valley.
This morning a sizable crowd gathered for the Grand Opening ceremony at Lakeshore Park. Representatives from both the City of Austin and The Trail Foundation spoke about their public-private partnership that resulted in the Boardwalk Trail. After numerous speeches, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and a group sing-a-long of Under the Boardwalk, Mayor Lee Leffingwell, city council members, and the Eastside Panthers Drum Line led the way over (not under) the new walkway.
The ADA-compliant Boardwalk is raised about five feet above the lake level. The concrete path is wide enough for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as emergency vehicles. Occasional “rest stops” jut out from the main path. I’m guessing that benches will be added soon.
Most of the pathway is out over the lake, but a few sections are on land and, in some places, the trail passes just a few feet from apartment patios. Besides the starting and ending points, the Boardwalk Trail can be accessed near Joe’s Crab Shack and near I-35 on Riverside.
The Boardwalk is also home to an outdoor art installation: Belting It Out by Ken Little. Metal “belts” are attached to the railings and inscribed with song lyrics written by Texas musicians. For example, the one above says “ME UPON MY PONY ON MY BOAT” from If I Had a Boat by Lyle Lovett. I also found “CRAZY FOR CRYIN’ CRAZY FOR TRYIN'” (Willie Nelson, Crazy).
And best of all, the Boardwalk Trail has some spectacular views of downtown Austin!
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