The Trail Foundation’s vision for an improved Hike-and-Bike Trail entrance — or trailhead, using the preferred hiker-and-biker parlance — in downtown Austin’s rapidly-growing Rainey Street District is finally taking shape this month. At a public engagement meeting held last weekend, the nonprofit showed off two possible design configurations of an upgraded entry point and park space surrounding the trail at the parkland located on the corner of Cummings Street and East Avenue, at the far south tip of the neighborhood.
If you recall, that location is right across the street from the former office building located at 44 East Avenue set to become the district’s newest and tallest condo tower project, also called 44 East Avenue — and thus the building’s very polite Canadian developers Intracorp are picking up some of the trailhead’s tab. Good job, Intracorp!
The two design options presented for the trailhead project aren’t hugely different in terms of features, but you’ll see some obvious shifts between the two. The first option, with its native pecan grove and gravel water access area at the shore of the lake, feels slightly more natural in its tone than the second option, which replaces the grove with a picnic area and installed what appears to be a more permanent, hardscaped bank area for water access at the water’s edge.
Either way, we really appreciate more areas from which we can launch our kayaks and such — despite the Trail Foundation’s ongoing efforts, there’s actually a surprisingly small number of easily-accessibly spots along the trail from which to access the lake at the moment, particularly for wheelchair users and other people unwilling to navigate — or “portage,” as they say — the sometimes challenging terrain along its banks.