By Leslie Ingraham
Published: 06/28/2022, edited: 06/28/2022
If you enter “dog-friendly cities” into a search engine, the result is sure to include Austin, TX which has embraced its 200,000 canine residents and responded with a myriad of services and pawsome activities. Austin hosts several dog-friendly parks and trails, including the Northern Walnut Creek Trail for adventure, socialization and exercise. The city's commitment to all doggos has made it the home of the largest no-kill shelter in the U.S., from which thousands of dogs are adopted each year.
Add to that a long list of pooch-friendly restaurants, bars, and shops and its clear why Austin is sometimes called Dog Town. With so many pup-friendly options, Fido almost never needs to leave your side! The best places fur Austin’s pups to romp are the city’s many off-leash areas! Let’s look at 5 of our furvorites!
Neighborhood: West Austin
If you and your pup love exploring islands, Red Bud Isle Off-Leash Area is for you! The island sits in the Colorado River’s Lady Bird Lake, and its 13 acres combine an impressive natural environment with scenic views. Access is via the Red Bud Trail that begins on the western shore of the lake. There’s a small parking lot on the island but it fills up fast. Additional parking on the western side of the river, and the walk to the island is about one-half mile. You can approach the island by kayak, canoe, or rowboat as well.
The main attraction of Red Bud Isle Off-Leash Area is that dogs can run free in its natural, unfenced environment surrounded by water. There are no restrooms or drinkable water, so it’s a good idea to take care of personal needs onshore and bring water for both you and your pup. While there are few of the amenities many dog parks offer, the island is a paradise. Its unpaved trails through the woods make this a pawfect spot for bird-watching and breathing in the fresh air. River access is available for the pups, but be aware of any blue algae bloom that can make your pooch sick. If you and Fido are looking for an isolated, serene place to walk and play, head on over to Red Bud Isle where you’ll find plenty of peace and quiet!
Neighborhood: Bouldin Creek
Perched adjacent to Austin’s Lady Bird Lake on the Colorado River is the West Auditorium Shores Off-Leash Area. This lush 57-acre park provides plenty of running room, with benches for the humans to sit on while they enjoy the views and watch their fur babies cavorting. Water fountains keep everyone hydrated and the trees dotting the park provide welcome shade.
The off-leash area is unfenced, which makes it even more important to keep an eye on your pup to ensure they don’t roam out onto busy 1st Street, Bouldin Avenue, or West Riverside Drive. It’s important that your pooch has good recall skills. A paved 10-mile on-leash bike and hike trail around the lake awaits for doggos who need a bit more exercise, and restrooms sit at each end of the off-leash park. Several other trails crisscross the park for off-leash walking, meaning there's a lot to explore in this green space. If you and your active pupper are longing for a large, grassy play space West Auditorium Shores is the place for you!
Widely recognized as the city's “Most-loved Park," Zilker Metropolitan Park Off-Leash Dog Park offers dogs unleashed access throughout its whopping 351-acres! With more than enough room for every pup to run and explore to their heart's content, they won't mind staying away from the off-limits areas, namely the playgrounds, pool, and sports fields. Doggos are even welcome to visit the botanical gardens on leash with their pawrents too!
The surface of Zilker Park is mainly grass, and the Great Lawn is planted with shade trees for everyone’s comfort. From here, you can enjoy the puptacular view of the Austin skyline, and the pastoral surroundings are soothing. Kite-flying is a popular activity in the wide-open space. There are restrooms and plenty of drinkable water, along with many picnic areas where families, including the dog, can kick back and enjoy sharing food and good times. Being a rather large area and unfenced area, it is expected that all puppers be responsive to voice c commands or remain leashed for their own safety. Carrying a leash with you at all times is a good idea. For a fun day for the entire family in central Austin, Zilker Park is the best!
Neighborhood: South River City
Near the large Norwood Tract Park and Lady Bird Lake lies the Norwood Estates Dog Park. This puppy playground features two fenced-in play areas, including one for small dogs, and many trees and shrubs provide shade and make things interesting. With lots of different areas to explore, this park is large enough to give everyone space. The surface in this park is natural and woodsy, stretching between the groups of shade trees. Large swaths of grass also make for cushioned rolling and wrestling.
A double gate keeps pups safe while entering and exiting, and chairs and benches are also scattered among the trees for pup parents to relax. Located within the dog park are also picnic areas where you and Fido can share lunch or meet up with other dog lovers and their pups. And with several Mutt Mitt clean-up bag stations and drinking water, this park has everything you could need. For a barkin’ good time, pack up Fido and head on over to Norwood Estates Dog Park!
Neighborhood: Walnut Creek
The Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park Off-Leash Dog Area is the pawfect place to take your pupster for some leash-free exercise and socializing. Simply a pup paradise, this park will definitely get your dog barking!
Sprawled over 293-acres, the majority of the park, about 200-acres, is zoned for off-leash play! That's right- most of this park has gone to the dogs! Without any fences, dogs can explore this gorgeous land of meadows, forested areas, and gentle hills that give the impression of untouched nature completely off leash. Paved and unpaved hiking and biking trails invite you and your fur baby to explore the park’s natural resources, and even get a splash in at the Walnut Creek that runs throughout the entire park. The boundaries to the off-leash area are from the top northern boundary of the park to the Creek, meaning dogs can run off-leash north of the Creek, but must be leashed anywhere south of the Creek. There are a few exceptions inside the off-leash area where dogs are not allowed, including the playground, ball fields and courts, and the pool.
Sharing a meal under the sky is a special treat, and Walnut Creek provides barbecues, picnic tables, and shelters. Be sure to bring plenty of water and appropriate receptacles to prevent dehydration, and don’t furget the waste bags! Whether it’s for a day or an hour, the Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park Off Leash Area is a grreat place to visit.
All of Austin’s off-leash areas have uniform rules common to most dog parks. For example:
If Fido needs to learn some dog park petiquette, consider booking an in-home dog training session with Wag! before you visit.
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