Red Bud Isle, an off-leash dog park, is a unique and fun place for beloved canines and dog-savvy families to run off some energy. The 13-acre park is located at 3401 Red Bud Trail, just below Tom Miller Dam, where Lake Austin ends and Lady Bird Lake begins. The island was created in 1900 from the rubble of a dam that collapsed during a major flood.
When we arrived on a weekend morning around 9:30 am, the parking lot (which has about 20 parking spaces) was completely full. Because the boys really wanted to visit, we found street parking about 1/3 mile away on Lake Austin Blvd. near LCRA Redbud Center. (Parking meter rates apply 7 days per week.) Walking across the bridge on Red Bud Trail to the park was a little scary and we don’t plan to do that again. In other words, if the parking lot is full, the best thing to do is wait in line with other cars until spots open up or come back another time. This Austin American-Statesman article from 2012 describes the parking challenges.
After our nail-biting walk across the bridge, we arrived at the park a little rattled. Of course, we saw an empty parking spot when we got there!
Our border collie was thrilled. She had fun interacting with the many other dogs.
The boys wanted to take a look along the water’s edge.
It’s really beautiful.
I especially loved this tree….
….and was amused to see a fishing rod holder from the old days, when Red Bud Isle’s primary function was as a low-key and relaxed fishing hole for locals.
The boys were charmed by this adorable 7-week-old puppy named Moose.
Moose is getting socialized at a young age!
This stunning bald cypress tree was the City of Austin’s “Large Tree of the Year” in 2009 (and there’s a plaque to prove it).
The root-filled southern edge of the island is very scenic. It’s tempting to balance on the tree roots, but be careful…one of my sons fell in when he took his mind off his balancing act momentarily.
If you have time, follow some of the offshoot paths along the trail. They will take you toward the water and you will find lots to explore!
Austin Active Kids Opinion: Red Bud Isle is perfect for dogs and the people who love them, as long as you can find parking!
Outing Time: 45 minutes to an hour
Outing Distance: The trail on Red Bud Isle is about 1/2 mile, plus there are little offshoot paths back and forth to the water. Since we couldn’t find parking in the parking lot, the walk to our car parked on Lake Austin Blvd. was 1/3 mile each way.
Red Bud Isle is open to the public 5 am – 10 pm. Talk to your children ahead of time about safety around dogs they don’t know. If your kids or dogs are skittish around new doggie friends, then this is probably not the outing for you. The function of Red Bud Isle is as a dog park. Only make plans to visit if you feel confident that everyone in your family will be comfortable interacting in this atmosphere.
While plenty of dogs enjoy swimming at Red Bud Isle, their human companions are prohibited from joining in the fun. (That doesn’t mean people don’t do it.)
Read more about Red Bud Isle from Austin Explorer, Do512Family, Austin Top 50 Fun in the Sun and Free Fun in Austin.