New $10 fee to hike River Place Nature Trail implemented

Starting March 2, hikers will be required to pay a $10 fee per person and animal to use the River Place Nature Trail. According to the River Place Limited District’s website, children 12 and under with an adult and residents with residential IDs may hike for free.

Only credit card payments will be accepted—no cash. Staff will be at the trailheads collecting the payments. Currently they will be there on weekends only, a River Place representative said, adding the fee was put in place to limit trail traffic and help with upkeep costs.

The River Place Nature Trail Canyon Trailhead is located at 4998 River Place Blvd., Austin. 512-246-0498.

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  1. Saddened neighbor

    This reminds me of the wealthy people in California buying up coastal properties and then declaring the beaches off limits to non-residents. This is _thereoretically_ slightly less evil since less well-to-do neighbors aren’t technically banned. Setting the fee that high makes it off-limits in practice, however. No family which can barely make rent and buy food is going to spend $20+ to go for a 1-2 hour walk. Those are often the same people who don’t have credit cards, another barrier to entry here.

    Especially considering that the HOA is already lowering the very low HOA fee because “We have substantial reserves right now.” – Ivar Rachkind, board member.

    This is clearly not some much-needed fund raising effort as much as it is a way to keep certain people away from the neighborhood.

  2. Lol… They’re hiring someone to sit at the front entrance and collect the fee… that will pay the person sitting at the front entrance collecting fees..

    Are there REALLY that many people flooding this trail every weekend? I’ve never even heard of it and have been going to Austin-area parks on a consistent basis for over 20 yrs. I mean, I’ve got a 40 acre park in my HOA and there’s hardly ever anyone there..

    • I discovered River Place a few years ago and stopped going on weekends because of how crowded it was or went very early. It might be volunteers collecting the fees on weekends. Either way, I’m glad they’re charging so it keeps the crowds smaller and the money can be used to help maintain it Even though it’s beautifully maintained, I have found trash and bags of dog poop almost every time.

  3. Just wanted to add – all this attention this is getting is simply going to draw MORE people there.. Especially on weekdays when apparently no staff will be taking the fees. REALLY dumb idea….. I checked out the park on the site listed. Looks nice! Maybe I’ll hit it up on a Wednesday afternoon…

  4. Westlake resident with a heart

    It does feel very elitist and snobby. “Yesss, keep the riff-raff out of oouuurrr greenbelt dahhling. Make me another Anejo Margarita, would you, snookems?” It’s been proven that youth who are out hiking with their families are not out drinking and drugging. Boy Scouts has a lot of data on this. So what if a few poor people hike by your McMansion, you are making your society as a whole a better place. I get that you might want to close the place down at night so people don’t come hang out there and party, but putting a $10 fee on it so poor people can’t hike there during the day? Makes me want to come every weekday with a really loud boombox, dressed in goodwill clothes, with blacked out teeth, and scare the bejeezus out of the Pelloton and Perrier crowd.

    • Living in this neighborhood I can say that my personal issue is not with the wealth or people that come to hike the trail, the issue is the amount of traffic that it generates. Every weekend there are hundreds of cars parked along the roads and they occasionally block driveways. This narrows the road to one lane at points and I personally have nearly had a head on collision twice driving down on weekends. Also some of the fee will go towards maintaining the trail, which is much needed considering the copious amounts of trash that is found which can harm the wildlife.

      • The idea that credit card only transactions are allowed supports the idea that this is due to resident complaints. Did you try to get no parking zones set up in your neighborhood? Or is it just easier to deny access to people who cannot afford $10 to enjoy nature. Sorry you are so inconvenienced. Maybe you should try a gated community.

      • RiverPlaceHiker

        There is hardly any trash if at all on this trail. I’ve hiked it multiple times and the trash is almost a non issue. The traffic is not just because of the trail it is also the golf course and the fact there are hundreds of homes in the area. Blaming it on the trail is just silly.

        If its really bothering everyone why not just make it a gated community? That’s because this is only going to be temporary. You’re not going to be able to maintain two staff members at both main entrances for the rest of eternity. I’m guessing by fall it no one will be at the entrances on weekends again.

      • Diasappointed nature lover

        I was going to volunteer to help maintain these trails. Volunteer. As in, free labor. This is just classist Wannabe-California Austin trying to keep us hard working folk out of their precious white collar, ivory tower communities. So traffic is bad, so what? It’s bad all over Austin, you should see my street (south Austin) talk about a half lane road… This is the best trail for training for a multi-day mountain hike. We don’t have good elevation spots in the Hill Country. This makes me sad and angry and disappointed in our “friendly” Austin community.

      • If the parking is an issue, wouldn’t signs be a solution? I have been to this trail several times during busy/high traffic hours and have noticed that there is plenty of parking along the street across from the park. I’m curious where the blocked driveways were because that would actually be more inconvenient to the hiker. I understand that the “one lane traffic” may be a bit inconvenient, but seems like a relatively small problem to me. Many neighborhoods in Austin deal with that on a daily basis rather than just the weekend and seem ok to me! Of course that means you would have to be a little more situationally aware while driving…but we should be doing that anyway.
        Just my two cents! I love this trail and have hiked it enough. It’s great for preparing for longer and more intense hikes. $10 is very high and not possible/reasonable for the majority of people who would like to visit.

  5. So obvious that RP is trying to keep “certain kinds of people” out of their neighborhood. I definitely understand that the trail needs upkeep (It really does get crowded) and maybe a $2-3 dollar fee pp would be more appropriate? BUT, $10 per person plus $10 per pet and credit card only? That’s just so gross and obvious. I propose a new marketing angle: River Place – Keeping America Great!

  6. The whole concept is completely flawed starting with the fact enforcing this “fee” requires someone to there and be PAID to enforce this “fee”. $10 is also a ridiculous amount to ask for per person or dog.
    Are they going to put up gates and fence it off? Because good luck getting people to be willing to pay.

    If you want to limit traffic on the trail and fix the previously exaggerated amount of cars parked along the road, charge a REASONABLE fee for parking using an unattended parking meter like the ones they have Downtown.
    That would be something that would be a lot easier to actually enforce and people would WANT and or be more willing to actually pay for.
    It’s understandable to ask someone to pay for parking somewhere, but feels elitist and snobby to impose a fee for a trail.

  7. The issue I have with this is that for years they have allowed volunteer groups to come in a work on the park, do trail maintenance and keep the trails litter and trash free.

    Back in 2017 there was a campaign by the residence to turn the park into a Parks and Recreation Group to keep it from falling under the control of the City of Austin. Allegedly, this was to keep the park open to all and not take a chance that the city would close it off.

    Regardless, many feel this has become a Public Easement via Implied Dedication as defined by Texas Law. In brief, the inactions of the landowner regarding certain private interests for a considerable length of time, implicates dedication of said land for public use. Allowing the public to use a strip of land without objections serves as a good example.


  8. The article failed to note the trail fee is only during peak hours on Saturday and Sunday 8-2 PM. Children 12 and under are free.

  9. A few clarifying points –
    1) The Riverplace HOA did not impose this fee. This is being implemented by the Riverplace LD which is the entity that was formed to replace the Riverplace MUD when the City of Austin annexed Riverplace. Under the terms of the 2009 strategic partnership agreement (known as a SPA) the LD is responsible for waste management and the various amenities in the neighborhood, including the two parks and the nature trail.
    2) Under the terms of the SPA the Riverplace LD has the right to charge fees for use of the amenities in the neighborhood but only up to the cost to maintain the amenity. In the case of the nature trail that cost is roughly $30K per year, according to the LD’s own budget. From the SPA agreement -“Fees and Charges. The Limited District may assess those fees and charges for the use of the Amenities that it deems reasonable and necessary and may charge users who reside outside the Limited District separate fees and charges if such fees and charges are reasonably related to the Limited District’s actual costs of operation and maintenance.”
    3) under the terms of the SPA the Riverplace LD is required to make all the amenities available to both residents and the PUBLIC. From the SPA agreement – “All Amenities described in Exhibit “E” shall be available for the benefit, use and enjoyment of all of the residents of the River Place Limited District and the public”
    Based upon the terms of the SPA it could be argued that the Riverplace LD is in violation on two points – fees related to actual costs and maintenance and using the fees to limit public access.
    While there a multiple neighborhoods in the area with private operated parks – Canyon Creek and Anderson Mill are two, Riverplace will be the only neighborhood charging fees for access to its amenities.

  10. I hike there at least once a month with the little girl I mentor. There is never a crowd. Sad we won’t be able to go now.

  11. Sad to see such high charges just to hike this beautiful trail. This decision yells keep out. Sad to now have to tell the family why we can’t hike here. Welcome to the new Austin?

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