How should I ever tell of the miles and miles of beauty that have been flowing into me in such measure? These are cut into my memory to go with me forever. - John Muir
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The Best Hills in Austin

This page was inspired by the August 2008 issue of Austin Runner Magazine which published an article Austin's 10 Hardest Hills. I visited, ran, and photographed the hills and report my impressions here.

Each section provides some short comments and a Google Map of the running route. There are photos in each map, so if you are visiting from another part of the world, or if you are a local runner bored at work, you can take a virtual tour of each route by clicking the photos along the route. It also give you an idea of the scenic views from each route.

At the end of the original Austin Runner list of 10 routes are few bonus routes that I like. I think they are worthy of a run and inclusion on the list. If you have some maps of running routes in your area, please feel free to write.

Exposition & Balcones

  • Distance: 3.2 miles
  • Toughness Rating (x/10): 2
  • Location: Go west on Lake Austin Boulevard, west of Mopac.
  • Comments: Nice rollers and ups and downs through Tarrytown and Enfield.
  • Map:
    View Larger Map

Stratford Road

  • Distance: 1.8 miles
  • Toughness Rating (x/10): 2
  • Location: From Zilker Park, go west towards Mopac, pick up Stratford near the Botanical Garden.
  • Comments: Scenery, views, and strong, sharp hills.
  • Map:
    View Larger Map

Wilke Drive

  • Distance: 0.3 miles
  • Toughness Rating (x/10): 4
  • Location: From Barton Springs Road, take Robert E. Lee, to Barton Hills Drive to Wilke.
  • Comments: Short but steep 10.8 percent grade.
  • Map:
    View Larger Map

Lost Creek

  • Distance: 1.3 miles
  • Toughness Rating (x/10): 5
  • Location: Off Loop 360 south of Bee Caves (2244)
  • Comments: Site of RunTex 30k, some of the hardest and unrelenting ascents. Plenty of good running roads in the area.
  • Map:
    View Larger Map

Mount Bonnell

  • Distance: 4 miles
  • Toughness Rating (x/10): 5
  • Location: From Lake Austin Blvd, follow Scenic Road and bike path to summit.
  • Comments: The highest point in Austin, and a favorite for bikers and runners.
  • Map:
    View Larger Map

Rain Creek Parkway

  • Distance: 0.7 miles
  • Toughness Rating (x/10): 6
  • Location: From north 183 or Loop 360, exit Great Hills Trail, midway is Rain Creek junction.
  • Comments: A series of steps and an 8.6 percent grade, you can extend this run easily around the neighborhood. Other nearby roads such as Lost Horizon, Fire Oak, and DK Ranch are excellent runs also. Rain Creek Parkway in my home neighborhood is one I run nearly every training session.
  • Map:
    View Larger Map

Ladera Norte

  • Distance: 0.6 miles
  • Toughness Rating (x/10): 8
  • Location: From Mopac, take Far West west to base of Ladera Norte
  • Comments: Great views of Loop 360. The final stretch is 13.8% grade.
  • Map:
    View Larger Map

Jester Boulevard

  • Distance: 0.5 miles
  • Toughness Rating (x/10): 9
  • Location: From Loop 360, take 2222 west.
  • Comments: Site of the King of Jester run and ride. This hill is pure torture.
  • Map:
    View Larger Map

Shepard's Mountain - Courtyard Drive

  • Distance: 0.8 miles
  • Toughness Rating (x/10): 10
  • Location: From Loop 360, go west on Courtyard Drive.
  • Comments: Nice views of Lake Austin.
  • Map:
    View Larger Map

Beauford Road

  • Distance: 0.7 miles
  • Toughness Rating (x/10): 10
  • Location: Off 360, park on Lakewood Drive.
  • Comments: The back side entrance to Jester Mountain with views of Austin Balcones In Vireo Preserve and Loop 360. You can also make a nice loop with Lakeside and Beauford.
  • Map:
    View Larger Map

Spicewood Parkway - Pickfair Drive

  • Distance: 3.1 miles
  • Toughness Rating (x/10): 6
  • Location: Off Spicewood Springs and Tallyran.
  • Comments: A nice loop route with a home that has been made into a stucco castle.
  • Map:
    View Larger Map

Spicewood Springs Road - Bluffstone Drive

  • Distance: 3.1 miles
  • Toughness Rating (x/10): 8
  • Location: Take Loop 360 and park at one of the office parks.
  • Comments: Two nasty climbs and a saddle in the middle. Lots of commuter traffic, but fun to try on the weekend.
  • Map:
    View Larger Map
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