Take Your Spring Break Outside

By: Kidus Gorfe, RecSports Ambassador

If you’re sticking around Austin this spring break, you might find yourself looking for some last-minute ideas of how to spend your much-deserved time off. Fortunately, we have some suggestions. We talked to Abbey Govett and Robert Egal, program assistants at the RecSports Outdoor Center, about some fun ways to get back into nature for the upcoming break.

An aerial view of Pease Park with the Austin skyline in the background
Photo by Lars Plougmann on Flickr

Starting close to home, Pease Park is a great option if you are looking to get outdoors without having to travel too far from campus. The park is home to hiking trails, picnic spaces, and several outdoor sports courts making it a great little escape from the hustle and bustle of city life even with its close proximity to the heart of the city.

Photo by Joshua Guenther

As we get into spring and the weather begins to warm up, you might be looking for a break from the heat. Barton Creek is the spot for you. The creek offers a variety of swimming locations that may be of interest to anyone looking to cool off, including the Barton Springs Municipal Pool, Campbell’s Hole, and Gus Fruh. This set of four beautiful, natural-water springs is located in the heart of Zilker Park, only minutes from downtown Austin.

The Outdoor Center has inflatable paddle boards available for rent, so if you’re interested in a quick afternoon adventure on the creek, you can get all the gear you need on campus. Paddle down to the end of the creek and you’ll be greeted by a gorgeous view of Austin’s skyline.

Photo by Tomek Baginski on Unsplash

The Barton Creek Greenbelt is also located near Zilker Park, and it boasts miles of beautiful hiking trails where you can get completely lost in the beauty of nature despite being only a few minutes from the bustling streets of downtown Austin. I’ve had the privilege of visiting this site personally, and as a UT student who does not have a car, I can safely say that the Greenbelt is one of the most accessible places that you can visit to immerse yourself in nature.

The Greenbelt is also home to some popular sport climbing routes (the Seismic Wall and Gus Fruh) that are great for fans of rock climbing who don’t want to have to travel too far from home.

View of Bull Creek with water and trees
Photo by Jim Nix on Flickr

This suggestion is especially for our rock climbing aficionados. Bull Creek offers a variety of awesome, easily accessible bouldering trails as well as an impressive array of sports climbing routes on limestone, primarily for intermediate and advanced climbers. These climbing spots combined with their proximity to a beautiful creek, as the name suggests, make it the ideal spot for climbing over the break.

If you decide to give the routes at Bull Creek Park a shot and need gear, the Outdoor Center has what you need. We offer everything from rock climbing shoes to crash pads, all at affordable rental prices.

Photo by Manuel Trevino

San Marcos, a city about a 40-minute drive from the UT campus, is probably best known for being the home to Texas State University. However, it is also home to some impressive outdoor sites that are worth visiting. In particular, Spring Lake, Purgatory Creek, and the San Marcos River are all beautiful bodies of water located in San Marcos that are perfect for a quick day trip for anyone looking to explore some of the locations Texas has to offer.

Photo by Visit Austin

This location is a bit further from the university, but if you’re a fan of camping and hiking, it is worth considering. McKinney Falls State Park offers 81 campsites, all with water and electricity hook-ups. If you haven’t been camping before but have always wanted to give it a try before going all Bear Grylls and throwing yourself into the wilderness, then this beautiful state park is a great starting point.

Once again, you can rent out any gear you might need for your trip from the Outdoor Center. Additionally, if you want to reconnect with nature with a group of friends but don’t want to commit to pitching a tent, then McKinney Falls State Park also offers six newly remodeled log cabins that you can rent out.

Man hangs from rock formation
Photo by Merrick Ales ©

Pace Bend Park is located about an hour from UT, which I understand for a lot of students, myself included, is a farther way to go to reconnect with nature. Nonetheless, Pace Bend offers a unique experience that might make it worth the drive. Pace Bend Park stands out from the other parks on our list because it’s home to some of the most beautiful cliffside trails in Travis County. Pace Bend also has new and improved camping sites that fill up quickly, so if you are interested, make sure to reserve a spot.

Pace Bend Park also offers some great options for thrill-seekers, namely cliff jumping! There are a lot of great spots at Pace Bend, but before you decide to take the plunge, be sure to research the spot you plan on jumping from to ensure you stay safe over the break.

View while climbing Enchanted Rock
Photo by Matthew Peoples on Flickr

Enchanted Rock is the furthest location on our list at over two hours away from UT, so it is certainly for those who feel ready to invest some time and effort into exploring the beauty that Texas has to offer. Enchanted Rock is a breathtaking pink granite mountain with over 17 miles of hiking trails. The hike to the top is 4.2 miles long and typically takes about 2–3 hours to complete, but after you reach the summit of Enchanted Rock, you will be greeted by a jaw-dropping view of the Texas Hill Country. I know that this trip sounds challenging, but when Abbey and Robert were asked about the one site they would recommend visiting over the break if they had to choose, they both said Enchanted Rock without any hesitation.

Now that we have given you some ideas of what to do, it’s up to you to pick from this list of exciting destinations. Regardless of whether you decide to have an outdoor adventure, we hope that you have a fun, safe, and relaxing spring break!

About the Author

Kidus Gorfe is a RecSports Ambassador, where he supports RecSports’ field marketing and campus engagement events. Kidus is a sophomore from Pearland, Texas studying supply chain management at the McCombs School of Business.

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Education through recreation. Est. 1916. | The University of Texas at Austin

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Education through recreation. Est. 1916. | The University of Texas at Austin