Austin
12:16 pm
Tue May 17, 2011

Trail Foundation To Mark 40th Anniversary of Hike and Bike Trail

A new sign that explains the history of the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail will be unveiled at 6 pm tonight as part of celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of an amenity that has become one of Austin’s defining features.

It’s hard to tell by looking at it now, but the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail was not much more than tall grasses, trees, shrubs, and garbage forty years ago. In 1971, Austin City Council under then-Mayor Roy Butler created the Town Lake Beautification Project.

Flash forward to 2011 and the ten mile loop around Lady Bird Lake is almost complete. Construction on a boardwalk that will close the final 1.1 mile gap along the south side of the lake under Interstate 35 is set to begin later this year. It is scheduled to take two years and will look something like this once it is completed.

Today’s ceremonial unveiling of the sign seen above will take place on the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge, which was extended across Cesar Chavez Blvd. late last year. The sign has already been installed for about a week and a half, according to Trail Foundation executive director Susan Rankin.

“The dates and the photos and the information on there span from 1940 until now,” Rankin told KUT News. “The frame is a beautiful piece of metalwork done by Austin’s own Lars Stanley Metalworks.”

Rankin says when the trail was first created, no one expected it to become as popular as it did.

“They had no idea running would be big,” she said. “They thought, ‘This is a great trail, but who’s going to use it?’”

The answer now? A lot of people. As many as 15,000 people use the hike and bike trail every day, according to this city study from 2007.