Autumn stroll around Lady Bird Lake

Autumn rarely sets our trees aflame here in central Texas, and this year’s fall color looks to be more of a dud than usual. But still, you can find a few russet tinges if you squint, especially in the coppery needles of bald cypresses around Lady Bird Lake.

My family and I walked the 3-mile loop between MoPac and the Pfluger Bridge over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Well, they ran and I meandered with Cosmo, taking lots of photos along the way. I love walking here when the weather cools off.

On this gray day, it wasn’t very crowded, which was nice.

Virginia creeper climbing a bald cypress is putting on a mini fall show of its own.

Bald cypress roots, drinking deeply

The cypresses line the hike-and-bike trail like a giant’s hallway.

Yes, I will apparently even take photos of a public restroom if the design is interesting.

The Trail Foundation has really upped its game in the design of public toilets along the trail.

The Heron Creek restrooms, designed by Mell Lawrence Architects, look like monk cowls made of raw steel and board-formed concrete.

Moving on

Turtles! I’m familiar with the red-eared slider, perching below the other two. But what kind of turtle is at the top of the branch? A soft-shell?

Almost at the turning point: the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge

A spiral ramp leads up to the bridge on the north side of the lake, but let’s pause in the Pfluger Circle, designed by Austin’s own Christy Ten Eyck, before we go up. With limestone-block benches around the circle, surrounded by Anacacho orchid trees, palmettos, and other native plants, it functions like a large council ring, one of my favorite design motifs.

Here’s a nice article about council rings, although — surprise! — the author used one of my photos without asking or even linking back to my site, which I wish people wouldn’t do. Respecting copyright (is it yours? If not, ask before using) is easy to do — and the right thing to do.

My rant over, let’s go up the ramp cloaked in fig ivy. Yes, it does seem as if we’re walking backwards, doesn’t it?

Looking down on the circle from the top of the ramp

My daughter is checking her phone down there.

A wider view captures a glimpse of the state capitol in the distance.

Beachy, curvy, wooden side-walls line a portion of the bridge.

Along the main part of the bridge, steel rails allow for views of the water.

Graffiti on the train bridge: Ninja Style Kung Fu Grip, reads one, which I’m sure the guy needed as he hung from the bridge to spray-paint. Never Give Up, reads another with Pac-Man outrunning killer ghosts.

Greening up the bridge are several raised garden beds maintained by volunteers. A couple were a bit anemic, but this one totally rocked.

Well done, Joan McGaffigan!

Back on the trail on the south side of the lake, this bench offers a nice overlook of the historic Lamar Boulevard Bridge — and an Austin-style re-creation of the bridge scene from Manhattan.

Where the trail diverts along Barton Creek for half a mile or so, I stopped on the wooden pedestrian bridge to watch kayakers…

…and paddleboarders.

Looks like fun

A little more fall color

And more orangey bald cypress

I sat in this spot for a little while, admiring the turquoise water of spring-fed Barton Creek and the orange needles and knobby “knees” of a solitary bald cypress.

Kayakers paddled up the creek…

…and, after a bit, paddled back toward the lake.

So peaceful

Nearby, the steel gazebo at Lou Neff Point offers a nice vista of downtown…

…between the trees.

Firecracker fern was still in full bloom, with a sulphur butterfly nectaring there.

Check out those yellow eyes!

Yuccas, agaves, and native flowering perennials and trees grow in terraced beds on the hillside here.

Beautiful yuccas, like exploding fireworks

Regular trail denizen Woode Wood was serenading passers-by.

A little gold adds to the subtle fall color along the trail.

Near the end of my loop, as I crossed the MoPac Pedestrian Bridge, I noticed that an old Live a Great Story sticker continues to hang on. I took a similar picture of this sticker, with a paddleboarder below, a couple of years ago, when we were having a much more colorful autumn (click for the fall glory).

Downtown beyond the trees

Yes, Austin is pretty wonderful!

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20 Responses

  1. Great photos of all that you saw from the far shots to the close ups. What a beautiful place. No wonder you like to go there.

  2. rickii says:

    A Thanksgiving Day walk is such a nice tradition. You had an especially interesting one, with nature and architecture living cheek by jowl (right down to the most photogenic restrooms I have ever seen). Our day was rainy and windy in the extreme, but we may be able to get that walk in today. In the meantime, I sure enjoyed yours.

  3. Kris P says:

    What a wonderful walk! There’s something of interest around every curve it seems. Even your graffiti looks more artistic than that I see on my usual routes. Thanks for sharing the journey, Pam.

    P.S. Cosmo is as adorable as ever.

  4. Laura Munoz says:

    So many of your photos are postcard-worthy. I especially love the first photo of the cypress roots and the photo with the comment “A little gold adds to the subtle fall color along the trail.” The restrooms are definitely very different!

  5. Gordon says:

    Hey, living in London, married to a Texan and having had so many good summers in Austin, your posts are a real find! Never been there in the Autumn, but am now tempted.
    Thank you!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      It’s my favorite time of year, Gordon, not being a heat-lover myself. —Pam

      • Gordon says:

        Hi Pam – I’m trying to promote my own blog so please check it out if you have any interest in what it’s like trying to garden in London!

        • Pam/Digging says:

          I’m glad to know about your blog, Gordon! The link in your first comment was a bad link — maybe it contained a typo — so I deleted it. But this link works. Thanks for following up. I’ll add the link to your original comment to give others a better chance of finding your blog too. —Pam

  6. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Gorgeous day for a walk and a visually stunning place in which to do it. All of those shorts and tee shirts make me a little jealous. We’re dressing in layers and wearing coats as it’s cold wet and windy here. After the heat of your summer, you deserve some good outdoor time!

  7. woode wood says:

    Thx 4 the mention…..

  8. Heather/xericstyle says:

    Your city is so beautiful, I really need to spend more time there with the family!

    Your skyline pics … AMAZING

  9. […] a couple of weeks ago I wrote that fall color is a dud this year in Austin. That’s still true, but as if in defiance of that observation, the […]

  10. […] the east side of the building you can see Lady Bird Lake curving past downtown. For those unfamiliar with Austin, yes, our downtown lake looks like a river. […]