Section Lady Bird Lake, MoPac (Loop 1) to Red Bud Isle, Austin
Length and duration 4 miles, 1–3 hours
Resources Rowing lessons and boat rental from the Rowing Dock, 512-459-0999, and Texas Rowing Center, 512-467-7799
Reward yourself Grab coffee and tacos at the downtown Whole Foods.
Yes, it’s called Lady Bird Lake. But let’s not forget that this lovely stretch of water that bisects Austin is part of “one sweet Colorado,” to quote Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Through happy accident or visionary town planning, the north bank of the river between the MoPac pedestrian bridge and Tom Miller Dam is almost free of development, and on the other side tall, cedar-topped cliffs obscure the mansions of Rollingwood. Paddling around while avoiding the ill-tempered swans is a fun thing to do with the kids on a sunny weekend afternoon (you can rent single, double, and triple kayaks; paddleboats; and even paddleboards). Remember to take plenty of sunscreen, as the only shade is in the shadow of the bluffs or under MoPac. In the summer it’s lovely to get out on the river before breakfast, though it will take more than an hour to get to Red Bud Isle and back. Better still, perhaps, is to take rowing classes and become one of those people whose measured movements send their delicate craft skimming ever so gracefully over the bright dancing waves.