You can explore so much in Texas. It is so vast; it could be a standalone country. When you go hiking, there are so many hiking trails and scenic routes you can find without looking.
You can find swimming holes and some of the best summit views; you can ever expect to see.
With over 70 national and state parks spread across the region, there is no shortage of places to experience the thousands of miles of hiking trails in the vast wilderness.
With so much to see and do in Texas, all the beautiful views and the chance to unwind after a hard week.
Now is the time to get out into the great outdoors and experience some of the best hikes in Texas.
Top 5 Texas Hiking Spots
Before diving in deep, here are the top 5 iconic places you can go hiking in Texas:
- Big Bend and the South Rim – Travel across the Rio Grande to the Boquillas Hot Springs or grab a bite to eat in the Falcon’s restaurant. The Santa Elena Canyon is a must-see.
- Austin’s Barton Creek Greenbelt – Ideal for outdoor enthusiasts who like to hike, mountain biking, hitting the water in a kayak, or soaking up the sun.
- The Guadalupe Mountains and the Smith Spring Loop – Fantastic photo opportunities in the fall.
- Big Thicket – Includes Sandy Trail, the only trail where you can go by horseback.
- Colorado Bend – Located in the Hill Country, where you can hike, cave, or fish, among other things.
Top Hiking Places in Texas
Now, we can get down to the more detailed things of what each of these bountiful trails in Texas has to offer.
Big Bend National Park
For any avid hiker, the Big Bend state park has to be the most unforgettable place there is in the entire state of Texas.
With lots of trails covering over 150 miles, there are lots to see for day hikers or the more experienced backpackers. Make your way to Emory Peak for great views.
Situated in far West Texas, you can find a canyon trail or two that follow miles of hiking paths carved into ancient limestone by rivers that flowed for thousands of years.
There is the chance to go for day hikes or make a longer experience and fill up a three-day itinerary or a full 5-day itinerary.
Notable places around the South Rim are the Chisos Mountains national park route along the Window Trail. You can couple this with the Lost Mine Trail if your time allows for a good day’s hiking.
Every South Rim trail has something unique to offer. It takes a quick walk to find yourself in forested areas for overnight backpacking.
Some of the notable trails are The Elena canyon trail, which leads into the stunning Elena canyon.
You can follow along the Rio Grande, or find out more for the visitor center. At the end of the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail, you can make the most of the bluff that overlooks the river and is an idyllic spot at sunset.
The Big Bend National Park has something for everyone, no matter how long his or her stay in the region.
Barton Creek Greenbelt
For anyone who is looking for hiking places around Austin doesn’t have to look much further than the Barton Creek Greenbelt.
This is the go-to destination for any outdoor lover in the area. There is all manner of activities the entire family can do such as swimming, bouldering, rock-climbing and of course hiking. While it doesn’t have the longest set of routes, the Greenbelt trail does have a lot to offer.
The state natural area has multiple access points and has full descriptions of what you can expect if you travel in either direction.
You can begin in Trail’s Head, which you find in Zilker Park. This is the busiest portion of the trail, as it is the closest to downtown Austin, and the Barton Springs Pool.
Other areas of mention are Campbell’s Hole, and further to the west, you find Gus Fruh. There is limited parking here as you access this part of the nature preserve through a residential area.
Main Access is on Loop 360. From here, you can make your way to either Twin Falls or Sculpture Falls. These are a couple of miles to the west so that you can couple a swim with your hike.
If you follow the Barton Creek hiking trail to the end, you come to the Hill of Life. This is a challenge for hikers and bikers that spans a half-mile and drops or raises 300 feet depending on which way you are heading.
Smith Spring Loop and the Guadalupe Mountains
The Guadalupe Mountains National Park has the best trails for hikers who love a challenge. Several of them climb a few thousand feet into the Texas Hill Country. These are among the hardest hikes in Texas, yet they are worth the effort.
The Guadalupe Peak trail takes you up the 3,000 feet, so it is one of the highest hiking places in Texas.
With over 80 miles in total, many trails are more sedate like the Smith Spring Loop. However, from the highest points of the miles of trails, you can see the salt flats to the El Capitan cliffs.
You have one extreme to the other from arid landscape to lush greenery. Each peak trail has plenty for every hiker to see and be fascinated by.
The Big Thicket Hiking Trails
For a bit of a change, you can head to the 40 miles of trails in the Big Thicket Natural Preserve. There are eight rails to choose from, but each delivers lots of greenery and wildlife.
You can spot alligators, snakes, rabbits, and hundreds of butterflies as well as the carnivorous pitcher plant.
You can grab a free camping pass, yet you will not see any campsites along the miles of trails. If you are in the area for a couple of days, there is boating, hunting, kayaking, and all manner of other activities you can undertake in this lush, diverse biological nature preserve.
The Big Thicket National Preserve may not be the largest in any of the state park or national forest park system, yet it was the first and established back in 1974. While quiet, it does offer some of the best hiking in Texas near Houston.
Colorado Bend State Park
There are so many things to do when you visit the Colorado Bend State Park; you will find you don’t have enough time to fit it all in.
Sitting in central Texas, it is one of the most popular destinations. Being a couple of hours travel from Austin, you can find cave tours, river activities, and a decent amount of trails for hiking and biking.
You will see the Gorman Falls, the tallest in Texas. This delivers many diverse landscapes from desert to cool springs and pools.
With over 35 miles of trails and spectacular views. One of the best being the Spicewood Canyon Trail. This 3-mile 2.5-hour trail takes you to the best views of the Colorado River.
Top 5 Alternative Texas Hiking Spots
The above deliver the best experiences for any hikers. However, there are several alternatives, which may be closer to home.
- Lost Maples State Natural Area – The Lost Maples state natural area is a natural national preserve rather than a state park. The aim is to preserve the surrounding area and its natural condition. Fall is the best time to visit and walk along the east trail to see the maples change color.
- Palo Duro Canyon – Here, you can find the vast Duro canyon that is nestled in the Caprock Canyons Escarpment. View the famous rock formation as you walk along the Lighthouse Trail.
- Enchanted Rock State Natural Area – Contains the massive pink granite dome that gives the area its name.
- Garner State Park – Garner State is in Uvalde Country and is one of the most popular places for overnight camping.
- San Antonio – Here, there are 86 different trails spread around San Antonio. You can find trails all across the region.
No matter where you want to find a local trail, you can find lots to explore from Lone Star, all the way through Dallas to Fort Worth, and make your way down past Austin.
There are thousands of trails of all kinds to match the skills and fitness levels for every hiker or backpacker who wishes to get out for the day or make the trip span over a few days.