The Great Springs Trail is a long-envisioned, Texas-sized greenway stretching from Austin to San Antonio.

The 100-mile planned greenway connects four springs and provides significant environmental benefits and recreation opportunities. It is also located in one of the fastest growing regions in the U.S. and rapid infill threatens to exasperate critical water, land, wildlife, and public health challenges. The trail’s plan unifies and builds upon dozens of related local and regional trail and conservation efforts.  It outlines a vision for a connected and protected National Parks-scale network of trails while supporting implementation efforts by local partners along the way.

As the Prime (and sole) consultant, Alta’s team created an Economic Benefits Report that quantifies the potential economic, health, environmental, and transportation benefits for the trail network and 50,000 acres of conserved land. Expanding on traditional transportation datasets and techniques for benefits analysis, Alta uniquely incorporated additional analyses of ecosystem services and tourism projections based on National Land Cover Data and available literature. In addition, the ecosystem services evaluation was extended to understand how conservation investments would aid in carbon sequestration and avoid carbon releases from development.

As part of the planning process, Alta conducted field work that included biking, hiking, and kayaking the length of the trail to determine trail alignments, preview already planned alignments, and decide how to connect to already built sections. The process was further informed by direction from a project steering committee made up of partners from Austin to San Antonio, and was further supported through a series of public engagement opportunities throughout 2021. The plan sets up a flexible framework for Great Springs Project and its partners to create the trail system incrementally, with a short-term focus on securing trail right of way and land conservation. The overall goal is to have the approximately 100-mile trail system built by the Texas Bicentennial in 2036.

Learn more in our recent blog article.