AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Parks resurfaced part of the city’s Barton Creek Greenbelt, covering the rocky trail with a soft mulch. The resurfaced section runs from the Spyglass trailhead and ends before the trail splits off to the climbing wall access.

The change was part of emergency maintenance by Austin Water to remove buildup in wastewater pipelines, according to Emlea Chanslor with Austin Water. Workers had to remove rocks in order to use special vehicles to clear the pipelines. Contractors then resurfacing the trail. The trail section reopened on April 7.

“I’m a fan, I always worry about rolling my ankle on the hill when I come in,” said Sarah Castro, who frequently walks on the trail with her dog Ozzy “Prince of Darkness” Osborne.

Ozzy and other dogs on the trail Friday morning clearly enjoyed the softer surface, sprinting and digging into the fresh dirt.

“I raised my dogs out here. They used to have trouble on the rocks, but they are thriving today,” said Jessie Lewis, another hiker.

Lewis was on the trail with two friends, Brittney Stromme and Owen Obrien, who walked the section barefoot. They brought shoes for the hike but opted to carry them instead once they saw the new surface.

“We were talking about it when we got here,” Lewis said. “It is definitely better for balance and accessibility.”

“No shoes feels great, I don’t have to worry about sharp rocks,” Obrien said.

  • Sandbags and small hay bales act as erosion control.

The Spyglass trailhead access previously brought hikers down a steep and rocky path, which made the trail treacherous for people with stability and mobility problems.

Jess Chopin and Laurie Eiserloh said they can now consider bringing Eiserloh’s elderly parents on the trail. They did lament that the softer surface wasn’t ideal for cross country training, but the accessibility gains outweighed that issue.

While most hikers enjoy the new trail, they also hope that the Greenbelt keeps its natural charm.

“I just don’t want to see them put any concrete out here,” said Castro.