Local parks, trails, lakes expected to be busy this holiday weekend before rain moves in

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Friday, many Central Texas families tried to squeeze in some outdoor time since rain is expected to make this year’s Memorial Day weekend a soggy one.

KXAN checked out some popular outdoor spots and saw that while some areas were busy, people were doing their best to keep six feet from one another.

“It’s just me maintaining social distancing, hanging out with my dog,” said Jordan Miller who was on the Greenbelt. “I feel like people are pretty respectful about maintaining social distancing. We need the sun and earth’s healing properties, so I think it’s really important for people to still go outside and go on walks.”

Along Barton Creek, people were walking, running or biking, and on the other side of the Colorado River, the Texas Rowing Center was busy renting out equipment.

Alexa McAuliffe said, “It’s been pretty busy. We’ve been open since small businesses were allowed to open.”

To try to keep people safe, she said, “We are making sure all of our equipment is clean when it comes off and goes back out, so we’re spraying down our life jackets. We’re wiping off our handles. We’ll take our boats and we’ll bleach them as well, just trying to do our part to keep everything clean.”

She added, “From what I’ve heard from customers, when they come off the water, they thank us for being open and being out here. I think they definitely appreciate being able to get out on the water, clear their heads, doing something active with the family.”

Further upstream on Lake Austin, Wilson Allen, owner of Executive Watersports, said, “You can definitely tell that there’s been a noticeable increase in boat traffic. Pretty much every weekday out here in the afternoons has felt just like Saturday afternoons during your average summer.”

He’s expecting the lake to packed with boaters this holiday weekend.

“I would expect it starting 8 or 9 in the morning, there’s going to be a lot of boats, a lot of people, people are going to be in the water,” Allen said.

He hopes people will be extra careful.

“I would say definitely have a sober driver out there on the water. Keep an eye out for people that are down and just be cautious, be courteous to the homeowners and don’t drive too close to people’s dogs.”

Starting at sunset Friday night, just like any other holiday weekend, a personal watercraft ban is going into effect for Lake Austin. That means no jet skis, motorized surfboards or similar devices.

But this year, police will also be looking out for large gatherings. Even on the water, city officials hope you’ll follow social distancing guidelines and do your part to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

“What we rely on deeply is their honesty and integrity about who they have on their boat, how many people they have on their boat, if it’s their family, we rely heavily on that,” Austin Police Officer Bradley Smith said.

Additional parks and amenities opened on a limited basis in Travis County Friday as well. Most of the park system’s boat ramps are now open. You can find the list here.

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