Lady Bird Lake or Town Lake as it was formerly known, is a dammed portion of the Colorado river situated just south of downtown Austin. Currently the lake and it’s surrounding hike and bike trails serve as an attraction for locals and visitors alike. However, Lady Bird Lake was not always as beautiful as it is now.
The lake was created in 1960 as a cooling pond for the adjacent Holly Power Plant. In its early days, Town Lake, as it was known at the time, was an eye-sore. In the early seventies, the Mayor of Austin, Roy Butler, established the Town Lake Beautification Committee. Lady Bird Johnson was appointed the honorary chairman of this committee. In this role, she led the planting of hundreds of plants and trees and the establishment of the hike and bike trails around the lake.
When Lady Bird Johnson died in 2007, Town Lake formally changed its name to Lady Bird Lake in her honor. If you’re visiting Austin, I highly recommend you take a visit to Lady Bird Lake. While you are not permitted to swim in Lady Bird Lake, you can use non-motorized water boats. As a kid, I remember renting a pedal boat for an afternoon on Town Lake, but now stand up paddle boarding is by far the most popular recreational activity on Lady Bird Lake.
If you don’t want to be on the lake, you can take advantage of the trails surrounding Lady Bird Lake. A ten-mile loop offers the perfect landscape for one to explore Austin by bike, or if you feel like walking or running you can make a shorter loop.