AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Friday, Austin’s most iconic hike and bike trail celebrates 50 years Friday, but not everyone knows it wasn’t always a place to run, walk or bike.
Logan Campbell has been running the trail since he was little and now he cherishes every chance he gets to bring his son, Hunter.
“Daddy, I want to run the trail,” said Hunter seconds before he bolted down the gravel path.
The Ann and Roy Butler Hike And Bike Trail has continued to grow in popularity over the years.
“It is special to me because I can take my son here and he can enjoy the same memories,” Logan said. “I love the trail because it is one of the more iconic places in Austin.”
Ed Butler remembers what the trail was like in the 60s.
“Tall weeds, grass, tires cups, cans … it was trash and nobody dared get within 30 or 40 feet of the shoreline,” Butler said.
Ed Butler is the son of Roy and Ann Butler who helped start the trail, along with Lady Bird Johnson. Butler says the trail has come a long way over the years, and it all started with a conversation while the Johnson’s and Butler’s were on vacation in London.
“Lady Bird Johnson took my mother out on the balcony that overlooked the Thames River where they have lots of nice trails and parks and she asked why can’t we do this in Austin,” Butler said. “My father just said we can get it done.”
Work to raise money and planning started soon after that conversation.
“A lot of people think about Austin and they think of the trail,” Butler said.
With more than 4.5 million visitors a year, the trail can be as long as 14 miles depending on your route. It has become one of Austin’s havens for runners, walkers and cyclists alike.
“You can be in a natural sanctuary five minutes after you leave your office, and I think that is special,” said Heidi Anderson, The Trail Foundation, CEO.
Anderson has an important job — to make sure the trail continues to flourish.
“The city is growing and we think it is going to be important for this to grow as well,” Anderson said.
Anderson said they have discussed extending the trail both east and west, but that will take some time before any moves are made.