Discover a Hidden Gem at River Place Nature Trail

Do you love hiking around Lake Travis and Austin hot spots? You may have never tried one of the best trails yet because this one is a hidden gem. You can find it over in the River Place neighborhood featuring beautiful canyon views, waterfalls, tall rock shelves, and more.

While you’re used to hiking at favorite spots like the Barton Creek Greenbelt or Turkey Creek, you may never want to go back after you’ve tried the trail at River Place. Take a look below to learn all about the River Place Natural Trail that you can enjoy while living in Lake Austin.

About the trail

You can find the River Place Natural Trail between Four Points and Steiner Ranch over in River Place neighborhood. Considered one of the most underrated hiking trails in Austin, this hidden gem is a favorite among locals.

It’s perfect for dog-owners to be able to take their leashed dogs on the trail, bringing a picnic for lunch, and enjoying it as early as sunrise and all the way until sunset. There is no charge to enjoy the trail but there are no bikes or motorized vehicles allowed. Believe it or not, the complete trail has only been open for a few years after a dispute between the City of Austin and the River Place Municipal Utility District which caused some inaccessibility for several years.

What to expect

To get to the trail, head east from the 620 / 2222 intersection before going south on River Place Blvd. to reach a few trailheads. You’ll find Canyon Trail first but if you circle the country club in the neighborhood, you’ll reach the Little Fern Trail.

You can also find the Panther Hollow Trail beginning after you’ve headed down the Little Fern Trail just a couple of turns. Each trails offer a different feel such as panoramic views and dry driftwoods from the Canyon Trail, babbling brooks and serene pools at The Little Fern Trail, and views of the golf course at River Place Country Club, along with cacti, at the Panther Hollow Trail.

You can expect the Canyon Trail to start with picturesque views before continuing on to feature many winding paths as you walk by big boulders and limestone. As you continue, you’ll move down the cliffs to see vegetation, ferns, and moss.

The air smells great here but the trail is challenging here as you walk several stairs. You’ll find the highest elevation change in the city at the Canyon Trail which works well if you’re trying to train for a tough hike like the Grand Canyon.

Take the Little Fern Trail to be among water between the babbling brooks, waterfalls, pools, and beautiful green ferns. You’ll walk on stepping stones, next to limestone rock shelves, and you’ll find the perfect places to stop for a picnic here.

Take the Panther Hollow Trail for a long trail experience because this one has many subtrails. There are several stair steps, dry areas, and steep passes here. If you take the Lower portion, you’ll find flat land near creeks for an easier hike.

You’ll love the boardwalk overlooking a pond at the beginning or end of the Lower Panther Trail where you can sit in a rocking chair and check out the swan. This one is 5.5 miles which makes it a good way to end your day or take a break in the middle of the day.

While you may love the popular 8-mile trail at Barton Creek Greenbelt, the peaceful waterfalls at Wild Basin Preserve, or the off-leash dog fun found at Turkey Creek’s Creekside trail, you may find that the River Place Nature Trail is your new hiking destination. Check it out on your next day off and enjoy the beauty of this hidden gem.

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