The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake is a beautiful, urban walk that meanders beside the water’s edge and passes by skyscrapers, communities, ball fields, and cultural landmarks in the center of Austin. The 10-mile hike-and-bike trail is Austin’s most renowned and well-liked recreational area, with nearly 5 million visits annually.
However, The Trail is more than just an amazing path. It’s a natural sanctuary where Austin thrives. It embodies Austin’s love of the outdoors and is a meeting place for a vibrant mix of residents and visitors.
Floods, Dams, and Electricity
Austin built and lost several dams to floods that removed many trees lining the river. The Great Granite Dam, which was destroyed by a massive flood, was constructed first and completed in 1893, where the current Tom Miller Dam resides. It was rebuilt as the Austin Dam and stood from 1909 to 1912. The existing Tom Miller Dam began operating in 1940 atop the remains of the previous structures.
In 1959, Austin’s population was booming, causing a growing demand for electricity due to the popularity of TV and air conditioning. The Seaholm Power Plant could not accommodate more units creating a need for another power plant. Although the land was available to build on, there was no source of cooling water. The Longhorn Dam would create a reservoir providing cooling water and a lake through Austin. Designed by Brown and Root and built by H.B. Zachary, the dam was named after a longhorn crossing used as part of the Chisholm Trail in the late 19th century.
Town Lake Beautification Committee Founded
Trail Renamed to the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail
TTC Strategic Plan
The work of The Trail Conservancy is to protect a natural setting where healing, joy, and connection occur daily. The Butler Trail supports our community’s mental and physical health, allows for recreation and mobility, and is a place where humanity, generosity, and equity are exalted. We recognize that the Trail is not yet all it can or will be. We resolve to execute a bold plan for the people’s Trail.
In 2020, TTC (then The Trail Foundation) committed to a multi-year Strategic Plan that will enhance the Trail, engage the community, and expand resources so that future generations can enjoy this natural refuge. The plan includes input from consultants, TTC’s board and staff, the community, and representatives of the City of Austin.