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greenBlue Upper Barton Creek Greenbelt

  4.5 ( 13 ) Favorite


5.0 mile 8.1 kilometer out and back
95% Runnable


Ascent: 299' 91 m
Descent: -299' -91 m
High: 851' 259 m
Low: 568' 173 m


Avg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 27% (15°)


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Trail shared by Donovan Acker

A great day run to explore the swimming holes, falls, and sculptured rock areas of upper Barton Creek Greenbelt.

Donovan Acker

Features River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife


This is great day run loop to explore the upper Barton Creek greenbelt area... and get a solid glute and leg burn going!

This run starts off at the "Hill of Life" just off the crossing of Scottish Woods Trail road and Camp Craft road. If you have already done the downtown day run around Lady Bird Lake Trail and the lower loop run of the Barton Creek Greenbelt, then this challenging run will round off the hat trick !

For families and casual runners, Barton Creek Greenbelt’s Hill of Life Trail section of this run is one of Austin’s great gifts for invigoration and time in nature. It’s tucked within junipers and oaks, and connects with a variety of paths leading to tranquil creekside spots.

The overall run is well worth the effort as you'll be completely immersed in the best greenery and running the Austin area has to offer.

Need to Know

Take your time on the Hill of Life if you have not done it before. The big limestone steps can get the best of you if you don't take your time. Bring hydration. Trekking poles are a huge plus on this run if you have them.

Runner Notes

For trail runners, there’s a reason they say "Hill of Life" with a smirk. Intermediate and advanced enthusiasts just call it what it is—the Hill of Death or Hill of Hell (don't worry it is not that mom did it at 65 !) It’s all fun and games on the way down this section of the trail. On a bike, it’s just about two minutes of blazing, moderately technical downhill to the flatter creek portion of the trail–and thirty minutes back up this section (to give you an idea of how to plan your time).


Once you park off of Scottish Woods Trail Road and Camp Craft Road, you'll see the trailhead right at the top of Camp Craft Road.

You'll immediately begin descending "The Hill of Life" section of the run which covers three-hundred vertical feet in just over a third of a mile, and includes numerous obstacles, including loose rocks, limestone ledges and concrete erosion-block steps (up to a foot in height), plus plenty of roots and ruts.

Once you have descended to the creek area, the run is pretty straightforward as it winds around toward Barton Creek Falls and the sculptured rocks area for a nice rest/swim if you wish.

This run is definitely not for people who want a "lazy day" of running. Come ready for a workout and to enjoy working hard for your running experience.

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Jan 3, 2018
Van Wallace
An excellent trail in the upper reaches of Barton Creek. The Hill of Life is an fun, quick descent to the creek. Many picture-worthy views. 6mi

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 13 votes


in Austin


  4.5 from 13 votes
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