Austin's Ultimate Bike Guide: Top Routes and Tips

Discovering Austin's cycling treasures: where to ride, rent, and revel in the city's bike-friendly charm.

Mia Trailsmith
Feb 13, 2023
Male cyclist on a mountain bike Male cyclist on a mountain bike

Our Favorite Bike Routes in Austin

Austin has such an incredible variety of scenery - stunning landscapes, hilly countryside, urban greenspaces - that there's something for everyone to enjoy. While summers in Austin can make it too hot to ride, spring, autumn, and winter are perfect for cycling!

From how to stay safe while riding, to where to rent a bike, to long and short routes made for all-day adventures and quick spins, here’s everything you need to know about cycling in Austin.

Is Austin Bike Friendly?

Although the Lone Star State is famous for its car-centricity, Austin is one city that bucks the trend and has become known for being one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country! In fact, it even has a Gold rating from the League of American Bicyclists.

The League of American Bicyclists rates cities' cycling-friendliness according to markers that consider the bicycle network, bicycle-friendly laws, and the overall cycling culture and community - so if you're looking for a place to start cycling in Texas, there’s no better place than Austin!

If you already cycle the trails in and around Austin and want to make your commute more eco- and health-friendly, check out our blog on why you should cycle to work in Austin.

Where to Rent a Bike in Austin

If you're passing through Austin or live there but aren't sure whether to buy a bike, you're in luck because there are countless bike rental shops in Austin.

According to customer reviews on Yelp, these are the best bike rentals in Austin, TX:

  1. Barton Springs Bike & Rental Tours
  2. Austin Bike Tours & Rentals
  3. Trek Bicycle Lamar
  4. Pedego Electric Bikes Cedar Park
  5. Mike's Bikes and Tours 

Although many bike shops offer online rentals, unless you're sure of the size and type of bike you want, we'd recommend going into the store and getting expert advice on the best bike to rent for your adventure. 

You should also check whether the bike shop offers insurance so you’re not left with a hefty bill to settle if something goes wrong. Remember, Sundays Insurance can only provide coverage for the bike that you own and won’t cover any damage or loss to a rental bike.

Also, keep in mind that almost all bike rental shops will offer maps that show you bike routes in the city, so make sure to ask for one when renting your bike. 

Some of the routes on our list take you out of Austin and into neighboring towns, so double-check that you're allowed to take the rental bike out of Austin for a day trip.

3 of The Best Bike Routes in Austin

We've compiled some of the best long cycling routes in and around Austin, perfect for half-day relaxed adventuring or getting some training miles in. If you're looking for shorter rides in the city, we've also included some at the bottom of the list.

Austin to Elgin

Enjoy a beautiful 20-mile ride out of Austin and into the town of Elgin, where you'll mostly ride on small rural streets surrounded by idyllic scenery.

While there are a few route options to get from Austin to Elgin, the most popular is a 44-mile loop that starts in downtown Austin and approaches Elgin from the south. When you return from Elgin, you'll go in a northerly direction (mostly avoiding the busy US 290) before heading back into Austin.

Because there isn't much shoulder on the roads as you exit Austin, the first leg can be daunting for novice cyclists - but once you're out of Austin, you can look forward to a quiet, pastoral ride. There aren't many streetlights on the route, so plan your ride to ensure you make it back home before sunset.

Oak Hill to Dripping Springs

This 40-mile loop is perfect for experienced cyclists who want to get in some training miles with a couple of sharp climbs but is also suitable for those looking to pack a picnic and take a slow ride out of the city.

Beginning on Old Bee Caves Road, cross Texas 71 and into Thomas Springs Road. From there, take a right turn into Circle Drive until you reach US 290. Take the 290 west for around 100 yards, then turn left into Fitzhugh Road. The 290 is generally busy and doesn't offer much of a shoulder to ride on, so although you're only on it for a short while, you should have some level of comfort with road cycling alongside motorists.

Take Fitzhugh Road all the way to Dripping Springs, which is a charming small town with a range of restaurants, cafes, and farmer's markets to explore. When it's a little bit warmer, you can add a 10-mile detour to Hamilton Pool Preserve, where you can enjoy a dip in a natural swimming pool with a 50-foot waterfall.

Willow City Loop

Whether you take this 32-mile paved loop by bike, motorcycle, or car (of course, we'd recommend seeing it by bike), it's one of the most beautiful meanders in the state. You can enjoy quiet rural roads - watch out for roaming cattle - and pretty wildflowers that bloom between March and May.

The loop is suited for all levels of cyclists, but be aware that very little of the loop is shaded, so it's not ideal for a summer ride (unless you do it early in the morning before the temperature gets too hot). Most of the loop is also surrounded by private property, so this isn't a spot to venture off the road less traveled.

Willow City is located just over 50 miles from downtown Austin, so you'll want to put your bicycle on a bike rack and park at the Knot in the Loop Saloon, where you can join the loop and enjoy the ride. Remember, if your bike is covered by Sundays Insurance, we also cover it for damage sustained while it's being transported on your bike rack!

Shorter Bike Paths in Austin

If you want to take a ride without leaving Austin, there are still plenty of opportunities for exploring right in the heart of the city. 

The trails in Austin are all family-friendly and, depending on which one you choose, can offer incredible views of the water, skyscrapers, and attractions. Here are some of our favorite bike paths in Austin:

  • Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail (14.5 miles)
  • Emma Long Metropolitan Park (9.13 miles)
  • Barton Creek Greenbelt (7.2 miles)
  • Brushy Creek Regional Trail (6.75 miles)
  • The Veloway (3 miles)
  • Johnson Creek Greenbelt (1.38 miles)
  • Blunn Creek Nature Preserve (1 mile)

Get Bicycle Cover for Your Austin Adventures

Whether you're an Austin local or just stopping by for a visit, we've got your bike covered in the Lone Star State and beyond! From just $8 per month, your bicycle is covered for theft (from and away from home), accidental damage, domestic travel, and more.

Plus, you can choose to add on optional extras like worldwide coverage, racing & events coverage, and lifetime new for old (if you cover your bike within 60 days of purchasing it new). Get an online quote.

Wondering how specialist bicycle insurance from Sundays Insurance compares to homeowners and renters insurance? Find out here.

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