In this modern era of super highway information and speed accompanied by techno-savvy innovations leading us into the future but at the same time caging the man within the confines of his mobile and laptop screens, limiting his world to a wooden desk in some high-storeyed skyscraper of some successful company, one might come to the realization of the significance of being draped in the “saree“ (a garment draped around the body, traditionally worn by Indian women) of mother nature and at the same time the importance of getting away from the day to day world every once in a while.
Bringing to the limelight that it is also of equal importance to stay connected to the ways of the past and all at the same time also pave a way into the future, going out or being connected to nature in one way or the other has always been the most expressive way for anyone to find their ways in the world.
Therefore, the list below is some of the hiking trails in Austin that one might ought to pay a visit to if he/she is looking not just to get lost but also to discover themselves.
1. Hiking Trails in Austin
Apart from Austin being known for its alluring music scenes and buzzy nights, it is also a sanctuary for those who might be wandering in search of an outdoor escape, from all the hustle and bustle of a never-sleeping city.
Captivating her visitors and admirers with not just enchanting city space, it also offers quite exceptional walking paths in its vicinity. Whether you want to hike, mountain bike, or run, urban trails in Austin have you all covered.
The Austin terrain, the park’s towering limestone bluffs and hills, creek beds and crossings, and city’s eastern edge are the most ideal hiking trails which one wouldn’t want to miss.
2. Here Are the 10 Most Beautiful Hiking Trails in Austin
Listed below are the best hiking trails in Austin which are bound to give you a wholesome experience.
2.1. Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail
Also known as the homestead trail and the Lady Bird Lake Trail since it’s located at the Lady Bird Lake and Colorado River, Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike trail undoubtedly is the most beloved hiking trail in hill country within the city limits of Austin.
Along its 10 miles of trail, you’ll enjoy the spectacular cityscape, picturesque neighborhoods, and numerous tourist spots complemented with tons of wildlife. Even if you aren’t much of a walker, you can just spend a leisurely time admiring the scenic beauty of Lady Bird Lake, and its surrounding domain.
Apart from being a hiking destination, this site is also an ideal location for mountain bikers. As the Austin government website states, “The Ann Butler hiking and bike trails are far beyond the great path—they’re where Austin thrives.” Hence, it isn’t a surprise that Ann and Roy Butler/ Lady Bird Lake trail attracts millions of visitors annually.
2.2. River Place Nature Trail
Impressing its visitor with scenic beauty and the view of a riverfront park, a hidden waterfall and captivating every passerby with violet crown trail; with an area expansion of 5.5 miles and also an elevation of 823.5 feet in its vicinity makes it one of the most challenging hiking trails in Austin.
Located 30 minutes away from Downtown Austin, it comes with difficult terrain and steep stairs (2763 stairs to be exact) which is why it is also considered to be one of the most adventurous and challenging trails.
Thus, River Place Nature Trail could be one to tick off from someone’s “to-do list” as it comes with a fruitful result for anyone who’s looking for a getaway.
2.3. Walnut Creek Trail
The Walnut Creek Trail has been divided into two sections: Southern and Northern Walnut Creek Trail. It has moderate elevation gains, making it a safe sailing route for all ages.
2.3.1. Southern Walnut Creek Trail
Located in the Walnut Creek Greenbelt in East Austin, it encompasses about 7.7 miles extending from Govalle Park to Johnny Morris Road/Daffen Lane, and is perfect for long hikes. Owing to its 10 feet wide concrete paths, its rich foliage, hills, flatland, and water, it is an ideal recreational place for walkers, runners, and bikers.
2.3.2. Northern Walnut Creek Trail
This 3.3 miles runs from Balcones District to Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park. Like the Southern Walnut Creek Trail, the regional trail system too has a lot to offer. The ample amount of tree-shaded trail provides shade even in peak summers.
As a whole, if you are in search of a short and sweet hiking location, then this is just the place for you. 15 minutes away from Middle Austin, this place includes beautiful picnic spots, public restrooms and a dog-friendly park as well.
Famously known for its welcoming and homely environment, Walnut Creek Trail is just the place for you to visit, whether be it with your loved ones on a picnic or a self-discovering short hike river place nature trail.
2.4. Mayfield Park Lake Trail
This location is an alluring sightseeing spot, 10 minutes away from the center of the city. It is a super short loop that takes very less effort for anyone wanting to spend some leisure time but at the same time not overdo the boundaries they might set in. Hence, it can be said that Mayfield Nature preserve/Park Lake Trail is indeed a beautiful and convenient escape.
This little tropical getaway is dotted with palm trees, water lilies, ponds, and with majestic peacocks loitering around as its permanent residents, it also comes with beautiful nature walks and bird-watching moments within its wildlife habitat.
And anyone who has deep-rooted interests in historical architecture, can also visit the Mayfield-Gutsch Estate which was a home first built in the 1870s. It also connects to the Laguna Gloria Art Museum which features a gorgeous sculpture garden.
Therefore, Mayfield Nature Preserve/ Park Lake Trail might just be the place you are in search for.
2.5. Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail
The 12.68 mile of Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail is an apt and one of the most well-known hiking destinations for anyone looking to get away from the desk or the four corners of their rooms.
This place is a frequent destination for hikers, mountain bikers, rock climbers, swimming hole seekers and for anyone who is an outdoor enthusiast making this trail is the epitome for one’s own adventure. Coming with various elevation changes, rocky slopes and eye-catching views, Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail is thus one of the top-rated hiking trails in Austin.
Less than 10 minutes away from Downtown Austin, this site features beautiful wildflower fields, open grasslands, gorgeous Twin Falls, Sculpture Falls, and long sections alongside a river. The various falls located within its domain also make it a popular spot for soaking in the natural limestone tubs brimming with cool spring water early during summer.
Therefore, one can conclude that Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail is just another power-packed location for explorers with a scenic overlook.
2.6. Mary Moore Searight Park Trail
This 2.1-mile trail, blanketed with leafy residential area of South Austin, is located at the center of a beautiful 344-acre park. Accompanying its visitors with views of slaughter, creek crossings, open fields, and shaded woodland areas, this trail is the perfect location for anyone who is looking to ease themselves in nature gently.
Mary Moore Searight Park is also the best spot for wildflowers.
Also, if you are looking forward to creating your own safe little adventure amidst all the buzz of city life, it is significant to remember that it’s also very easy to lose your way. Hence, it is of utmost importance to keep track of the trail markers and have a GPS with you, but not to worry because you will eventually find your way as everything is built in a loop. Therefore, Mary Moore Searight Park is a true hidden gem.
2.7. Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve (Waterfall trail)
This 2.5-mile Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve comes with amazing views at every corner during one’s hike to the top. Including a former creek bed, an overlook of the basin, and a seasonal waterfall, one can enjoy their time in solitary while bathing in nature’s beauty.
The seasonal waterfall, however, may only be a treat during the month of May/June, when the adventurer visiting this place during monsoon may just stop for a while to admire this scenic beauty, all the while immersing themselves in the sound of the cascade of the waterfall.
The Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve is also home to many endangered species, one among them being the Golden-Cheeked Warbler. At the end of the climb uphill trail, this site gifts you with a breathtaking view of the hill country and the Austin skyline. Hence, this short and a little bit hilly trail is just the perfect place to visit for a weekend getaway.
2.8. Mckinney Falls State Park
Mckinney Falls State Park is a 3.1-mile dog friendly (only on leash) park located East of Downtown Austin, near the airport, far away from the concrete jungle of the city. This state park has a trail of networks that connects the upper falls with the lower falls.
It also consists of natural swimming holes, but a visit to the Mckinney Falls State Park is not complete without one seeing “The Old-Baldy,” a Cypress tree that is over 500 years old.
Carved with smooth limestone pools and refreshing waterfalls, Mckinney Falls State Park is a fun place to visit with family as well as to go on a solo trip for a quick outing, as it not just comes with easy hiking trails but also finds great spots for adrenaline-pumping adventures.
2.9. Lake Austin
With a town lake, an area expansion of 1.8 miles and an elevation gain of 177.2 feet, and hugging the Colorado River, Lake Austin is one of the most ‘Instagrammable’ destinations that Austin has to offer.
Just 15 minutes away from the heart of Austin, this is an easy hike to take with family as it is not just a popular spot for picnics but also endows visitors with beautiful and awe-inspiring sights and scenes.
But a reminder to take, you would want to start early in the morning in order to avoid a large crowd.
2.10. Turkey Creek Trail
Located in the western part of Austin’s Emma Long metropolitan Park, this 2.8 miles trail is a moderately challenging destination but at the same time also endows beautiful and enchanting scenery.
Turkey Creek Trail, in particular, as compared to the other trails in Austin, has a lot of tree coverage which bends together to create a shady canopy, perfect for hikers and mountain bikers to take short breaks and rest during their self-adventures. This is one of the reasons that the Turkey Creek Trail is popular amongst hikers and mountain bikers.
Another feature of this trail is that it allows people to tag along with their furry friends, that too off-leash. Hence, you can also bring your four-legged friends to accompany you on your hikes.
Turkey Creek Trail is a fairly flat hiking trail, but because of its rocks which are most often slippery, it makes it a moderately challenging endeavor to hike up this trail. Hence, it is of utmost importance to be careful where you step next, especially if children accompany you.
Therefore the listed above are the top 10 best hiking destinations in Austin, Texas, that one might just be in need of.
Thus, to conclude, emphasizing the importance of outdoor activities not just in maintaining a healthy lifestyle but also in assisting someone in keeping their individuality in this vast ocean of globalization and the monotonous day-to-day lifestyle, it demands to keep the motors running and the wheels spinning to make it through the day and into the evident future.
A short escape is just what one might be in need of. Hence the above-listed places are some of the ideal locations to visit in Austin to get away from all the crowd and city spaces and to connect with the tranquil aura of nature.