The History of The Trail Foundation
Current- Brazos Bluffs
As an inaugural project from the 15 Projects selected for the Canopy Fund, Brazos Bluff will add a much needed stopping point along the Trail for people to pull off the Trail to take a quick stretch, meet for a lunch picnic, contemplate or more. The parkland adjacent to the Four Seasons is steeply sloped, causing significant erosion of the Trail and the riparian edge when it rains. This project would address the stormwater that flows across this site in an aesthetically pleasing and
2018- The Trail Foundation’s 15th Anniversary
2018 marks The Trail Foundation’s 15th year protecting and enhancing the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail! In honor of this significant milestone, TTF revealed its 15 projects for the 15th anniversary, created a Canopy Fund dedicated to financing the initial phases of each future project, and will host a series of events over the year to celebrate. We also created and unveiled new 15th anniversary TTF gear, which is included with each membership donation!
2017- TTF Announces 15 New Projects
At the 2017 State of the Trail address on Dec. 7, The Trail Foundation announced 15 new projects in honor of its upcoming 15th anniversary. Slated for completion on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail over the next five years, the projects range from new trailheads and bathrooms to new water access points and playgrounds. Learn more about the 15 projects here!
Current – The Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue
The Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue will update a decades-old bridge and bring a much needed safety enhancement to the area as well as adding a new space to take in the view of Lady Bird Lake. A sleek and simple design is proposed to minimize visual impact around the Ann Richards Bridge, as well as move users safely and smoothly from east to west. Learn more about this exciting project here!
Current- Boardwalk Benches
The Trail Foundation will install new benches at overlook points on the 1.2-mile Boardwalk, the Foundation’s most acclaimed project to date, and give members of the public the opportunity to dedicate the benches through a new program. These benches will create spaces for remembrance, rest and contemplation for all to enjoy, and all proceeds benefit The Trail Foundation. Learn more about this project here!
2017- New Executive Director
The Trail Foundation appointed Heidi Anderson as its new executive director. Previously director of development for Austin-based Hill Country Conservancy, Heidi took the reins of TTF June 1, 2017. She is the third leader in The Trail Foundation’s 15-year history, succeeding interim executive director Brian Ott, and will the Foundation’s continued growth and important projects currently underway, including the new Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue, Trail-wide ecological restoration work, and
Ongoing – Butler Trail Ecological Restoration
The Butler Trail Ecological Restoration is the Implementation Phase of the Urban Forestry Plan and Ecological Restoration Guidelines. The ecological restoration will focus on repairing and improving ecological function of the 199 acres of riparian forest and uplands around the Butler Trail at Lady Bird Lake in the highly urban area in downtown Austin. Learn more about this project!
Ongoing- Master Signage
The Trail needed a thorough graphic makeover of the remaining sign types that is comprehensive, coordinated and functional. This signage promotes an image of Austin that connotes originality, quality, beauty, and civic pride. Because the Trail is the heart of Austin, this must break the mold of a basic park sign system and support the reputation of the Trail as the best urban trail in the US. Learn more about this ongoing project!
2016 – Economic Impact Analysis of the Trail
In 2016, TTF retained AngelouEconomics to complete an Economic Impact Analysis of the Trail as well as the positive externalities the Trail provides. Findings included that the annual economic impact of Trail is $8.8 million, annual medical cost savings from the Trail are $4.3 million, and office rents increase by $.0.28 sq. ft./month for every ¼ mile closer to the Trail, among many other beneficial impacts. Read more about this project here.
2016 – Lakeshore Park
Phase 1 of Lakeshore Park included an alleé of Mexican Sycamore trees, transitioning Trail users from the entirely manmade Boardwalk back into a more park-like Trail experience. Phase 2 will improve the quality of storm water before it gets to Lady Bird Lake and prevent erosion with rain gardens and also provide new tree groves for the area east of the Boardwalk. Learn more about this project here!
2015- MMR Cumulative Amount Raised Surpasses $800K
In 2015, Maudie’s Moonlight Margarita Run and Party reached a staggering 2,559 participants and the cumulative total amount raised for TTF from the event surpassed $800,000. Learn more about the event here!
2015 – Ecological Restoration Guidelines
TTF has developed Trail Wide Urban Forestry and Ecological Restoration Guidelines including a site inventory, data acquisition, and management plan for the 199 acres of urban forestland adjacent to Lady Bird Lake and the Butler Trail. Learn more about this project here!
2015- Auditorium Shores Trailhead (Collaboration)
The Auditorium Shores Trailhead is one of the most highly used access points for the Butler Trail. It was in great need of repairs of the amenities that TTF is incrementally adding to the Butler Trail – new restrooms, water fountains, native plants. The City needed additional funding to be able to fund the construction of the full set of trailhead needs and asked TTF to donate for the things needed by Trail users. Read more about this project here!
April 2015 – East Side Trail Bridge
The Eastside Trail Bridge spans the intermittent creek just east of the Hostel. As part of this bridge project, we also added about 690 feet of new Trail to allow walkers, bicyclists, and runners to remain along the scenic lakefront and away from the sidewalk along the increasingly busy street, Lakeshore Boulevard. Learn more about this project.
2015 – Urban Land Institute IMPACT Award
On April 1st, The Trail Foundation received the Urban Land Institute‘s IMPACT Award in the Public Places category for the Boardwalk. The IMPACT Award for Public Places recognizes a project that provides the public with enhanced civic, open, or public space access or experiences. Learn more here.
2014 – The Boardwalk
This project provides safe, continuous ADA compliant pedestrian and bicycle access along a beautiful section of the public’s lake and parkland. Visitors and citizens of all levels of ability are able to access the town’s lake and have a safe transportation alternative to riding in a car. Learn More about this project!
2014 – Blunn Creek Ecological Restoration
TTF received a $50,000 grant from 3M for an ecological restoration project at the confluence of Blunn Creek and Lady Bird Lake. At the mouth of Blunn Creek, sedimentary deposits had created a small island and wide shallow areas where vegetation was becoming established. In May 2014, 3M volunteers had fun getting muddy at the Blunn Creek delta where they planted eastern gama grass, rose mallow and other native wetland plants as part of the ecological restoration project. Learn more about
2013 – Johnson Creek Restrooms
When we were planning the complete renovation of the Johnson Creek Trailhead, we realized that the Trailhead area was in great need of a nice restroom to serve the multitude of Trail users who start and pass through that area. Also, we know that quality restrooms are one of the highest priority needs for Trail users. Learn more about this project here!
2012 – Johnson Creek Trailhead
The Johnson Creek Trailhead near Austin High School, affectionately called “The Rock,” is the first stop for many Trail users. This popular meeting place sets the tone for each Trail experience — we believe it should shine, and The Trail Foundation has renovated of this area to give it the beauty and functionality that the Trail and its enthusiasts deserve. Learn more about this project!
2011- Town Lake Trail Renamed Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail
Ann and Roy Butler were instrumental in the beautification of the Trail. In 2011, the Town Lake Hike-and-Bike Trail was renamed the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail. Learn more here.
2011 – Pfluger Bridge Circle
The Pfluger Circle, once a hot, uninspiring Bermuda grass circle, is now a peaceful gathering spot filled with flowering desert willows, Anacacho orchid trees, palmettos and other native plants. The long, silvery stems of the ponyfoot have created solid green walls to give balance to the concrete bridge. The stone blocks offer Trail users a place to rest or meet at this major intersection along the Trail. Learn more about this project!
2009 – Between the Bridges
Between the Bridges” is our name for the area on the south side of Lady Bird Lake between the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge and the historic Union Pacific railroad bridge. We designed and installed the project to screen the parking lot and beautify this area. A unique feature of the project is the serpentine wall that weaves along the Trail and the existing grove of trees to the east. Learn more about this project.
Ongoing – Lady Bird Johnson Adopt A Garden
Through our Lady Bird Johnson Adopt-a-Garden program, a Trail lover can adopt an individual garden and design, plant and tend it. Gardens are adopted for a year and put up for adoption as they become available. This successful and innovative program has already had 28 gardens adopted! Learn more about this project here.
2008 – The Trailhead Loop Distance Signs
The Trail Foundation installed easy-to-read signs for Trail runners in strategic locations along the Butler Trail. These signs break up the 10 mile Hike-and-Bike Trail into smaller running loops!
2008 – Landscape Lighting
Trail enthusiasts who enjoy the Trail in the early morning or evening hours were the first to notice this project. Attractive landscape lighting makes the Trail safer and extends its usability, especially before and after work hours in the winter months. Learn more about this project!
2008 – Austin Population and Trail Usage Skyrockets
The Trail at Lady Bird Lake becomes one of the most well traveled recreational areas in Austin and its usage increases as Austin’s population booms– growing to 760,000. As the city of Austin and the number of Trail users continue to grow, the need for TTF to protect and enhance the Butler Trail grows with it.
2007 – Vision Plan
In late 2007 RVi Planning + Landscape Architecture donated to TTF the professional services to create a “Vision Plan” for the Trail. The end result of this process is a Vision Plan that will guide TTF in planning its future projects and priorities. Learn more about this project!
July 26, 2007- Town Lake Renamed Lady Bird Lake
The Austin City Council passed a resolution for Town Lake to be renamed Lady Bird Lake in honor of Lady Bird Johnson. In renaming the lake, the City Council recognized Johnson for her dedication to beautifying the lake and her efforts to create a recreational trail system around the lake’s shoreline. Read more here.
2007 – Miró Rivera Restrooms
The facility uses standard building materials that are found in “Austin-style” structures including a series of Corten steel panels and crushed granite pathways. By using specialized building materials and cautious design techniques, we designed the facility to actually reduce the parks department’s maintenance costs. Learn more about this project.
2006 – Zilker Bluffs Tree Grove
The Trail Foundation completed a major tree planting effort on one of the most heavily used sections of the Trail known as Zilker Bluffs. This currently sparse section is exposed to the full afternoon sun making it one of the hottest spots on the Trail. As they grow, the new trees will beautify this area and provide much needed shade. Learn more about this project here.
2006 – Lou Neff Point
In 2004, we were awarded a grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife to widen and restore Lou Neff Point (the hairpin turn where Barton Creek meets Lady Bird Lake). This notorious “pinch point” was a hot spot for biker/runner/walker collisions due to its change in elevation and narrow passage. Learn more about this project.
2006 – North Shore Overlook
Located just east of the Texas Rowing Center, this area was restored with funding from a long-time supporter and member of the original Town Lake Beautification Committee. The project was a complete overhaul of the site and is now a much-used lakefront resting spot popular with Trail users. Learn more about this project.
2005 – Mile Markers
In late 2005 we set out to replace missing mile markers and move those that were in the incorrect spots. Once the Trail was re-measured and certified, we learned that the “correct spot” for many of them was on a bridge or location where the original block-style markers would not fit. We held a successful Mile Marker Auction, hosted by new marker designer Spoonbend (formerly Yellow Fin Studios), and raised all of the necessary funds to replace these whole and half markers. Learn more about
2004 – Inaugural Maudie’s Moonlight Margarita Run & Party
Started in 2004 with around 900 participants, the Maudie’s Moonlight Margarita Run and Party is The Trail Foundation’s largest annual fundraiser and brings together two of Austin’s favorite things — running and margaritas! Each year, MMR raises critical funds for projects on the 10.1-mile lush, urban path in the heart of Austin. Learn more about this event!
Nov. 21, 1993- Stevie Ray Vaughan Memorial Installed
The City of Austin erected the Stevie Ray Vaughan Memorial– a bronze statue of blues guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan that was sculpted by Ralph Helmick– at Auditorium Shores on the Trail, the site of a number of Vaughan’s concerts
1980 – Congress Avenue Bridge Bat Colony
While bats had been around Austin for a while, extensive renovations on the new Congress Avenue Bridge created a perfect home for Mexican free-tailed bats and the world’s largest urban bat colony was formed shortly thereafter. TTF’s current Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue project will create a beautiful new site from which to view the bats once completed.
1971 – Town Lake Beautification Committee
The Committee for a More Beautiful Town Lake– a public-private effort to beautify the area and make it a more attractive and useful public space– was founded in December 1971. Lady Bird Johnson, the honorary chair, spoke at the dedication near Drake Bridge (First Street) Gazebo and the committee planted Crepe Myrtle trees.
1960- Town Lake Is Formed
Longhorn Dam was built in 1960, which created the artificial Town Lake and the center of Austin outdoor life. Prior to the dam being built, the southern edge of the Colorado River was barren and eroded from floods that plagued the river south of Tom Miller dam. The stabilized lake edge provided by the Longhorn Dam made a public park space viable in this area and paved the way for the future work of the Town Lake Beautification Committee. Learn more here.