AUSTIN, Texas — Plans to make a 100-mile hike and bike trail from the Alamo to the Capitol are closer to becoming a reality here in Central Texas.
The 200-page trail plan created by the Great Springs Project was just released last week after 18-months of planning. The trail will connect San Antonio, Austin, and the communities between by linking San Antonio Springs, Comal Springs, San Marcos Springs and Barton Springs.
With Austin being such an active city, people have a lot of interest in seeing this plan come to fruition.
Gregory Fox and Andrew Watkins meet up once a week to walk the Barton Creek Greenbelt and then take a cold plunge in Barton Springs following the hike. They say these nature opportunities are one of the main reasons they choose to call Austin home. So when they heard about plans for a 100-mile trail connecting the four major springs from Austin to San Antonio, they were excited.
“It's funny that you mentioned a hundred miles because what first comes to mind is, I'm training for an ultra and that would be so cool just to have a trail where I can actually legit train uninterrupted,” said Watkins.
“Everyone loves Blue Hole, like New Braunfels has a springs, San Marcos has some springs and I see bikers doing that like 100-mile trek, like on a Saturday, and just sending it, full send," said Fox.
This excitement over the trail is something Emma Lindrose-Siegel with the Great Springs Project said is common.
“We've had a lot of really overwhelming support,” shared Lindrose-Siegel who is the Chief Development Officer with the Great Springs Project.
The Great Springs Project started back in 2018 with a focus on conserving the 50,000 over the Edwards Aquifer recharge and contributing zone. They also focus on recreation, which is why just last week they released their 200-page plan for the 100-mile trail. They spent the last year and a half putting it together.
“The trail that we're going to plug into in Travis County is the Violet Crown Trail behind me that goes right up to Barton Springs,” said Lindrose-Siegel pointing at the trail.
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Much of the 100-miles will be already existing trails created by other groups or trails being planned by certain areas. But they will need to build more trails to connect it all together. One of the biggest challenges and focuses right now is securing the land, which can be difficult as Central Texas is growing rapidly.
“We’re in a unique moment in time where if we don't act now to conserve some of these places that make living here great and the Hill Country iconic, we're going to lose and miss that opportunity,” explained Lindrose-Siegel.
Getting the land is one major piece of this project, and then of course, the money.
“The funding patchwork that's coming together is going to be a combination of federal and state public funds and private philanthropy,” said Lindrose-Siegel.
They also expect the trail to give an economic boost to cities along it’s path.
“I would absolutely anticipate that you could not do it in one day and start wherever you want on the trail and spend the night in New Braunfels or San Marcos, or maybe even Kyle or some of the other cities along the route and have a nice meal and explore your backyard in a different way,” smiled Lindrose-Siegel.
As of right now there is not any type of camping planned for the trail, but since this is just the beginning stages of planning, that could change in the future. Right now hiking and biking are the planned primary uses.
Exploring in a different way is something Fox and Watkins are ready to do. They are already coming up with ideas for the future trail.
“On a weekend I could call up Andrew and say ‘Hey bud, do you have like two or three or four hours? Bring your bathing suit, bring a towel, some food. Let's go as far as we can go,’” said Fox.
Now although Greg and Andrew are making plans, the trail still has a long way to go. The Great Springs Project does not expect all 100-miles to be connected and completed until 2036, which is the Texas Bicentennial.
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