One of the largest parks in Austin, Emma Long (mostly just known as “City Park”) is great place for locals to get their fill of nature without having to travel far from home.
With off-leash trails that let man’s best friend enjoy a bit of freedom, highly technical mountain biking, and family-friendly swimming and picnic spots along Lake Austin, Emma Long is a quintessentially Austin park … in the best way.
Twelve miles of easy to moderate level trails are available for exploration at Emma Long. Extremely dog-friendly, the main portion of the park requires pets to be on their leash at all times.
The popular exception to that rule is Turkey Creek Trail, an off-leash route nearly 3 miles in length that crosses its namesake creek multiple times.
A note to dog owners: Be sure to clean up after pets to maintain off-leash privileges.
A note to non-dog lovers: This may not be an enjoyable hiking destination for you.
Mountain Biking/Motorcycle Trail
Mountain bikers and dirt bike enthusiasts love the nine miles of dedicated motorcycle trails at Emma Long. Primarily comprised of a network of rocky, single-track trails, the area continues to grow in popularity with mountain bikers.
For those on motorcycles, the trails are ideal for intermediate-level riders, with challenging entrances to new trails, but fairly easy riding throughout.
Mountain bikers experience a challenge at Emma Long, with many rocky, limestone trails. These areas are great for skill development on slow-going technical routes. Motorcycles and mountain bikers share the trail, with bikers responsible for yielding.
No horses or four-wheelers are allowed on the trail.
Located on Lake Austin, the park has a small sandy “beach” by the water where people come to beat the Texas heat. In addition to the lake itself, the park has multiple picnic tables, barbecue pits, a pier, a splash pad and some athletic courts.
Lots of families and friends enjoy spending the day at Austin’s only park with a beach. Heavy weekend traffic occasionally means dealing with loud music and litter from other visitors, so visit on weekdays to avoid the crowds in this area.
Lifeguards are on duty in the swimming area from May through September.
Emma Long has more than 60 campsites, ranging from primitive (no utility) to premium (water, electricity and RV-compatible). As one of the few spots designated for camping within the Austin city limits, it is popular in the summer for local weekend getaways.
Reservations cannot be made in advance for either primitive or RV campsites, and all are filled on a first come, first serve basis.