New $10 fee coming to popular Austin nature trail


    A big change is coming to a popular hiking trail in Northwest Austin. Starting March 2, people who live outside the River Place Limited District will have to pay a $10 fee to gain entrance, which which will also apply to pets. (CBS Austin)

    A big change is coming to a popular hiking trail in Northwest Austin. Starting March 2, people who live outside the River Place Limited District will have to pay a $10 fee to gain entrance, which which will also apply to pets.

    Since Carli Davidson first moved to Austin two years ago, she's stuck with the River Place Nature Trail to train for multi-day backpacking excursions.

    The trail spans six miles from beginning to end and includes three different trail heads.

    "It's one of the only areas in Austin that has elevation gains," she said.

    She uses the trail two to three times a week, but says that will likely change after the fee goes into effect.

    "To me it was just jaw dropping," Davidson said. "It's not like a per car fee, it's a per person fee, and that feels personal."

    The River Place Limited District owns the private trail, which is why they're able to enforce the fee.

    In an email to CBS Austin, Monday, they listed the following as reasons for the new charge:

    • To reduce over-crowding of the trails thus, improving safety on the trails and parking on our streets.
    • To establish capital and maintenance funds due to the increased non-resident usage of our parks and trails.
    • To reduce the burden on the [Rive Place Limited District] residents who currently pay the entire cost of our Parks and trails.

    However, Murali Chinnakonda has lived in the neighborhood since 2000 and disagrees with the board's decision to charge non-resident hikers.

    "I think people who come here really want to come and enjoy nature, so for the most part [they] are very respectful," he said.

    RPLD will have contracted workers at each trail head to collect card payments and say cash won't be accepted.

    Residents will be required to provided a membership ID to gain entrance.

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