Community Impact Newspaper
By Nicholas Cicale |
Although work on the Violet Crown Trail stalled during the coronavirus pandemic, the Hill Country Conservancy and the city of Austin are planning to begin construction again this fall and winter across South Austin.
The trail, once completed, will connect Zilker Park with South Travis County and into Hays County through a continuous, 30-mile system of nature, neighborhood, and urban trails. In 2019, sections of the trail in the Sendera neighborhood were completed, as were sections along the SH 45 SW toll road.
Adrienne Longenecker, the Hill Country Conservancy’s chief operating officer, said the next phase will establish trail connecting points south of Slaughter Lane. One section will improve the trail that connects the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to Slaughter Creek. The trail near the wildflower center will also extend west, under MoPac and to Escarpment Boulevard in Circle C Ranch, she said.
“We’re really excited to get that piece of construction going and have been working diligently with the city of Austin to get that moving,” she said. “I’m hopeful construction will start this fall, if not early next year.”
Construction permits were also extended in Sunset Valley this summer, and work within Sunset Valley city limits will begin in early 2021.
Even with social distancing guidelines in place and reservations being required on trail sections in the Barton Creek Greenbelt, since April, the trail has averaged about 10,000 monthly users. That number is more than double the 4,000-5,000 monthly users seen last summer, according to city of Austin data.
“People are definitely using the Violet Crown Trail more than ever,” Longenecker said. “They’re using it with their families; they’re using it for their own mental health, their own physical health; and really, I think that’s Southwest Austin [residents] getting out and exploring the trail and learning how it connects to the parks.”
The Hill Country Conservancy is also planning socially distanced fundraising events for the fall and will continue to offer virtual guided hikes of the Violet Crown Trail to connect with the community, Longenecker said.