The River Place Nature Trail offers plenty of elevation change if you’re training for a backpacking trip or mountain adventure. PHOTO BY RALPH BARRERA/Austin American-Statesman


A quick reminder: It’s hot out there. Remember to hydrate, and pay attention to temperatures.

Reader Terrie DeWitt, who lives near the River Place Trail in far northwest Austin, wrote to say she’s had to assist several people recently who either didn’t carry enough water with them or weren’t fit enough to tackle the steep, rugged route.

The 6-mile round-trip trail is one of the few places in town steep enough to get your muscles in shape if you’re training for a backpacking trip or mountain climbing adventure.

You’ll huff and puff your way up plenty of rocky steps as the trail winds through canyons and hilltops along Panther Hollow Creek. Dogs on leashes are allowed.

But don’t try to hike it at 5 p.m. on a hot summer day. Rather, go early, before the heat of the day turns Austin into a sauna. And bring plenty of water – for yourself and your dog, if you bring one.

“The River Place trail is really treacherous when it’s 100 degrees,” says Terrie DeWitt, who hikes the trail frequently. “People have no idea how tough it is.”

She’s encountered dehydrated and overheated hikers and dogs. One couple, who hiked from the lower trailhead to the upper trailhead, came to DeWitt’s nearby house asking for water. She had to drive another hiker back to his car after he couldn’t complete his out and back walk.

“They think they’re going to do the round trip, but they get up here and they’re disoriented,” DeWitt says.

If you plan to hike the trail, DeWitt suggests doing it no later than 8 a.m.

“You can do the 3-mile loop on the lower trial without doing the mountainous part,” she says. “Or you can park one car at the bottom and leave another at the top.

The trail is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. It has two access points — 4207 River Place Boulevard and 8830 Big View Drive. Free. For more information, go here.