Texas Parks and Wildlife considers new trails, day-use areas at Inks Lake and Longhorn Caverns

The sunset forms a worthy backdrop for creating memories at Inks Lake, located near Colorado Bend State Park. Photo by Mauri Elbel

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials will present plans to turn a golf course that closed in 2010 at Inks Lake State Park into a day-use recreational area.

They’ll also unveil a proposed plan to build a hike and bike trail between Inks Lake State Park and Longhorn Cavern State Park, upgrade trails at both parks, and add interpretive elements that highlight the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps at Longhorn Cavern and along historic Park Road 4.

The public is invited to comment on the proposals at the meeting, which is scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the City of Burnet Community Center, 1601 South Water Street in Burnet.

Maps showing the planned developments will be available at the meeting.

The public may comment at the meeting or by mail or email. Deadline for comments is Aug. 4.

What happens when a less-than-hardcore runner takes a run-cation?

Katie Conlan warms up before a run at Smith Rock State Park. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

I can’t sit still, even on vacation. I don’t want to spend my free time shopping or going to movies or playing board games.

I want to get outside, move and sweat.

But what’s it like to take a running-themed vacation, where the focus is on running? Would I really want to run every day for five days? On my days off?

Runners run a trail at Smith Rock State Park during a Rogue Expeditions trip to Bend, Oregon. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

To find out what it’s like to go on a “runcation,” I signed up for a five-day trip to Bend, Oregon, with Austin-based Rogue Expeditions.

Then I started to worry. I haven’t been running, thanks to a lingering case of plantar fasciitis. I can count on one hand the number of runs I’ve done the last year. I’m not exactly a fast runner, either. Middle-of-the-packer describes me just fine.

But, heck. It’s my Year of Adventure. What’s the worse that could happen?

The trip began with a shakeout run along the Deschutes River outside of Bend. Our group of eight loaded into a van each morning, and company co-founder Gabe Steger drove us to the day’s trail. Each day, we could choose our own distance. I took the shorter option nearly every day, running between 4 and 8 miles at a time. Others ran farther, but distance and speed didn’t matter. I ran at my own pace.

The group runs toward Tumalo Falls on Day 2 of the trip. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Our run lineup included routes in Smith Rock State Park, along the McKinzey River and to at least a dozen different waterfalls.

Highlights? Grabbing the hands of two of my new-found running buddies and leaping into a 37-degree, marble-blue lake. Running, by myself, along a pine-needle strewn trail beneath towering Ponderosa pines. Flopping on my back at the end of a long run, winking up at the sky and feeling that delicious tiredness in my legs. And did I mention the breweries? Bend is known for them.

In the end, my plantar fasciitis never bothered me. I rolled an ankle one day, but not badly enough to stop me from running (very gently) the rest of the trip. I just took it easy.

We ran. We ate healthy food, we hung out by a hot tub, we toasted marshmallows over a fire.

I’m heading back to Austin today. I’m pretty sure this runcation did something most vacations don’t – it jumpstarted my return to running. For that I’m grateful.

Look for my story soon in the travel section of the Austin American-Statesman.

Ann Baumann stretches out after a run at Smith Rock State Park. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Like your rock climbing with a splash? Try deep water soloing at Lake Travis

Adam Mitchell, right, jumps off a cliff into Lake Travis on Thursday, July 6, 2017. Photo by Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

Scaling rocks like Spiderman kind of freaks me out.

Adam Mitchell climbs a limestone outcropping on Lake Travis on Thursday, July 6. Photo by Pam LeBlanc/American Statesman

Fall, for one, and you might break yourself. Harnesses help, of course, but you can still bash yourself on the side of the rock – repeatedly. Plus, I’m scared of heights.

Adam Mitchell of Rock About climbs a cliff at Pace Bend Park on Lake Travis while Nick Wagner looks on. Photo by Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

So, no. You normally won’t find me scampering up a cliff face at Reimers Ranch or Enchanted Rock, channeling my inner gecko on a slab of hot limestone or granite.

But throw a little water in the mix and I’m in.

Adam Mitchell, left, and Nick Wagner, right, head toward another climbing site on Lake Travis. Photo by Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

This morning, I joined Adam Mitchell of Rock About Austin, a rock climbing guiding service, for a trip out to Lake Travis to try deep water soloing. In layman’s terms, that means climbing over water.

That made all the difference for me. We climbed in three separate areas, all gorgeous and fern covered, and managed to squeeze in some down time for jumping off cliffs.

Stay tuned – I’m writing about the experience for my Fit City column later this month. And for more information about Rock About, go here.

More red bikes – and stations – for Austin B-cycle bike share system

B-Cycle Austin is adding three new bike stations this week – part of a larger project to add 18 stations in the next 18 months.(RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN- STATESMAN)


Austin’s bike sharing system continues to expand.

This week, B-cycle Austin is installing three new stations – one at Cesar Chavez Street and Congress Avenue, a second at Sterzing Street and Barton Springs Road, and a third on Henderson Street between Sixth and Ninth streets.

Pam LeBlanc hits the road to test Austin’s B-cycle bike share system.

The three new stations are part of a larger 18-station, 125-bicycle expansion taking place during the next 18 months.

Austin B-cycle is expanding its bike sharing program in Austin. File photo by Jay Janner/American-Statesman

The system, which launched in December 2013, already does brisk business with its 51 stations and 380 bright red, basket-adorned bikes.

To use the system, users must either buy an annual membership for $80 or use a credit card to pay for a $12 day pass, a $15 three-day pass or an $11 monthly pass (plus one-time $15 enrollment fee). Once they’ve done that, they can take as many trips as they want for no additional cost — as long as they check the bike in at one of the stations every 60 minutes. If they keep a bike out longer, they’re charged $4 for each 30 minutes.

So far in 2017, 23,016 riders have logged 104,000 trips and 366,000 miles on the bikes.

Officials have not yet decided where the other 15 stations will be installed.

The expansion is funded in part by the Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation Alternatives Program and administered by the Texas Department of Transportation. Austin B-cycle is a public-private partnership between the City of Austin, the system owner, and Bike Share of Austin, the local non-profit operator.

Fit City approved: Four cool upcoming events for active folks

Kayakers watch the bats emerge from beneath the Ann Richards-Congress Avenue Bridge in this file photo. Larry Kolvoord/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Here at Fit City, we’re constantly trolling the waters (and sifting through press releases) to find the coolest ways to spend these hot summer days.

What’s caught our eye lately? Lots.

If you’re into bats, paddling, yoga, beer, swimming or skinny dipping, listen up – and check out these upcoming events.

  • 1. The Texas River School hosts a Moonlight Bat Float on Saturday, July 8. Join a fleet of kayaks and canoes for a musical float down the river to watch the bats emerge from beneath the Ann Richards – Congress Avenue Bridge. Check in at 6:30 p.m. on the docks of the Texas Rowing Center, 1541 West Cesar Chavez. Paddlers will push off at about 7 p.m., and Bob Livingston will perform music as the flotilla makes its way downriver. The group will return around 9:30 p.m. Cost is $15 for adults or $10 for kids. Future bat floats are scheduled for August 5, September 9 and October 7. Make advance reservations here. For more information, call 512-865-1450.
The Hyatt Regency Austin hosts a free yoga class once a month. Photo courtesy Hyatt Regency Austin
  • 2. Drop by the Hyatt Regency Austin on Monday, July 10, for the next session of Pints & Poses. Ferny Barcelo and Zuzu Perkal will lead a smooth vinyasa flow yoga class, and participants get a coupon for a complimentary draft beer at the hotel’s Marker 10 bar afterward. Best news? It’s all free, including parking in the hotel’s garage. The class, set to meditative music from local yoga DJ Trey Tarwater, starts at 6:30 p.m. in the air-conditioned Texas Ballroom, on the hotel’s second floor near the escalators. For more information, call (512) 477-1234 or go here.
  • 3. If you’re a regular reader, you already know that Fit City likes to skinny dip (and run naked!). If you’re into that sort of thing, take note: Nude Recreation Week takes place July 10-16. The Hill Country Nudists, in association with the American Association of Nude Recreation http://www.aanr.com, will host a Big Nude Day on July 15 at Hippie Hollow Park, 7000 Comanche Trail, the only official public nude recreation area in Texas. Normal, everyday people with normal, everyday bodies will relax and enjoy themselves without the stresses of work life. Entrance fee is $15 per vehicle; ages 18 and up only. For more information go here.
Pure Austin Quarry Lake will host the next race in its Splash ‘n Dash series on July 18. Photo courtesy Pure Austin Fitness
  • 4. Pure Austin hosts the next race in its Splash ‘n Dash series on Tuesday, July 18. The race – a 750-meter swim plus a 3K run – starts at 6:30 p.m. The races take place the third Tuesday of each month through September at Pure Austin Fitness,4210 West Braker Lane. Registration is $20 in advance or $25 on site the day of the event. Want to skip the run part? A straight open water swim race (choose from 750 meters or 1,500 meters) is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8. For more information or to sign up, go here.