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The Trail Foundation Celebrates 50 Years of Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail

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On December 10, 2021, The Trail Foundation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, one of Austin’s most treasured outdoor destinations. Hand-in-hand with family members of Lady Bird Johnson and former Austin Mayor Roy Butler, Council Member Kathie Tovo and the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, as well as friends and partners of the Trail, the organization honored the milestone with a morning reception at Brazos Bluff, reflecting on past achievements and looking ahead to the future of the Trail. 

“Over the past 50 years, the hike-and-bike trail has become a beloved amenity for our community to exercise, immerse themselves in nature and stay connected to many areas of the city. Simply put, Austin would not be Austin without this incredible asset,” said Council Member Kathie Tovo. “It’s an honor to celebrate this exciting milestone alongside the many community leaders, volunteers and organizations who work tirelessly to expand and maintain the trail.” 

On December 10, 1971 – half a century ago to the day – Lady Bird Johnson invited friends and media to join her at a press conference to witness the first planting of a crepe myrtle in an area that would soon become the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail as Austinites know it today. Joined by 300 guests, including her husband President Lyndon B. Johnson, she told the crowd how she long dreamed of making a lasting impact on the city – one that she fell in love with in 1930 during her first visit to the University of Texas. 

“I am so proud to be here today to celebrate the legacy of my grandmother and her contributions to the Austin community,” said Catherine Robb, granddaughter of Lady Bird Johnson. “I know she would be filled with immense joy to see what the trail is today, and to know that it is enjoyed by more than 4.9 million visitors each year. We’re grateful to The Trail Foundation for carrying on this important work and making the Trail a special place for all.”

Lady Bird spearheaded the Town Lake beautification committee that raised more than $50,000 to support the development of the trail and the planting of flowers, trees and greenery. The Butler Trail officially opened to the public one year later in 1972. To celebrate the anniversary, The Trail Foundation is kicking off one year of 50th anniversary activities for the community to take part, including its signature events – the Trail In Bloom: A Spring Celebration of the Butler Trail, Maudie’s Moonlight Margarita 5K Fun Run & Party, and Twilight on the Trail, TTF’s biggest fundraiser of the year. 

“As stewards of the Trail for more than 18 years, we are incredibly excited to celebrate this milestone. Above all, we are grateful to Lady Bird Johnson, Ann and Roy Butler and the many community leaders who came before us to help make this day possible,” said Heidi Anderson, CEO of The Trail Foundation. “Together, we can ensure the Trail remains one of Austin’s favorite outdoor havens. We look forward to celebrating this anniversary throughout 2022, and to the next 50 years.” 

Following completion of the Butler Trail, the Town Lake Master Plan was formed two decades later in 1998, detailing additional improvements and renovations and the original concept of the boardwalk. The Boardwalk was eventually completed in 2014 through a collaboration between The Trail Foundation and Austin’s Parks & Recreation Department as one of the most significant projects on the Butler Trail to date. Upcoming improvement projects include the Rainey Street Trailhead, which improves ecological function in the area and provides new spaces for recreation. New exercise equipment will also be coming to Butler Shores in summer 2022, adding nearly 100 different exercise options for a wide range of ages and abilities. 

“On behalf of the Butler family, I want to sincerely thank The Trail Foundation and the Austin Parks and Recreation Department for all their efforts to support the Butler Trail,” said Grant Butler, grandson of Ann and Roy Butler. “We are thrilled to see the great progress of the Butler Trail and know it will continue to be an important, treasured amenity for generations to come – as my grandfather always envisioned and hoped it would.” 


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