Steer a mountain bike over crooked trails alongside the lower Colorado River, zoom through treetops on a zip line, plunge down a Hill Country river in a kayak.
That’s the kind of stuff that feeds my spirit, and it’s what makes Central Texas a mecca for people who love the outdoors.
The 41 Texas parks owned by the Lower Colorado River Authority offer a backpack full of ways to amp up your adrenaline and soothe your soul, and they’re playing a big part in my 2017, which I’ve declared my Year of Adventure.
Take mountain biking. I hop on my mountain bike and hit the trail when I want to escape the hamster wheel of city life. The best known trails, though, can sometimes feel like downtown streets at rush hour. But at Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area, west of Austin, 10 miles of blissfully lonely single-track twist around a sweeping turn in Lake Travis.
I stick to the Great Escape Trail, where the sound of gravel crunching under my tires makes the perfect soundtrack for an afternoon ride. It’s all part of finding my groove – without the buzz of pavement or cars to worry about. Here I can carve into nature, dart between tree trunks and ramble over stair-stepped limestone.
Other days I’d rather get a bird’s- eye view of the Hill Country. That’s when I head to McKinney Roughs Nature Park, where I can channel my inner James Bond.
With a loud whir and a stifled scream, I soar across a gorge, high above the treetops. But I’ve got no grappling hooks tucked into my pocket, and I’m not wearing a cat suit appropriate for robbing banks or stealing sensitive international documents. Instead, I’m slinging down a network of zip lines, over three canyons, a creek, fields of waving bluestem grass and towering pines, all within view of the Colorado River on the Zip Lost Pines tour.
The six spans range in length from 146 feet to 1,316 feet and put riders as high as 70 feet above the ground at some points. And it’s the only dual zip line in the state! That means two people can race alongside each other.
And that’s just the beginning.
Get outside. Explore. Swim, hike, paddle. Answer the call of adventure.
Pam LeBlanc writes about fitness and adventure travel for the Austin American-Statesman and Austin 360. Read her Fit City column online at austin360.com, follow her on Facebook at Facebook.com/FitCityAustin or follow her on Instagram at @FitCityAustin.