Texas is known for a lot of things – cowboy culture, barbecue, and wide open spaces to name a few. But many don’t realize that Texas is also home to some incredible hiking opportunities, especially in the area known as the Texas Hill Country. If you’re looking to lace up your boots and hit the trails, the Texas Hill Country has some of the best hiking in Texas.
Here are some of the top spots for the best hiking in Texas Hill Country state parks and beyond.
1. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
One of the most popular and best hiking in Texas state parks is Enchanted Rock State Natural Area near Fredericksburg. The star of the show here is Enchanted Rock itself – a huge pink granite dome rising 425 feet above the surrounding terrain. Hiking to the top rewards you with panoramic views of the hills and valleys below.
The summit trail is only a 1/2 mile roundtrip, but for a longer hike, you can take the Loop Trail encircling the dome for just over 4 miles. This moderate trail goes through shady oak and cedar trees along the base of the rock. Enchanted Rock is a perfect spot to take in the natural beauty of the Hill Country while getting on a great hike.
2. Pedernales Falls State Park
For scenery straight out of a cowboy movie, head to Pedernales Falls State Park west of Austin. Here you’ll find a network of trails winding through cedar-filled hills dotted with cacti. The trails pass by several scenic waterfalls and overlook along the Pedernales River.
Some of the best hiking in Texas hill country is found on the 6-mile Juniper Ridge Loop. It follows the riverbank, passing under soaring limestone cliffs and taking you to the base of 25-foot Pedernales Falls. The Wolf Mountain Trail is another standout, climbing 800 feet to panoramic hilltop views. Altogether there are over 10 miles of hiking trails here ranging from easy to moderately strenuous.
3. Guadalupe River State Park
For a mix of history and natural beauty, visit Guadalupe River State Park near Spring Branch. The park has over 20 miles of trails to explore along the Guadalupe River and the surrounding canyons.
One of the best hiking in Texas state parks is the 5-mile Roundtree Trail. It follows a historic railroad grade past massive cypress trees and the ruins of an old homestead. For great views, take the relatively steep 1.8-mile Sante Fe Ridge Trail up to a scenic overlook. The park also contains some of the best examples of eastern deciduous forests in the Texas Hill Country. The colors here are spectacular in autumn.
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4. Colorado Bend State Park
Get a taste of Hill Country canyons at Colorado Bend State Park near Bend. The park contains nearly 40 miles of hiking trails, many following rocky ridges and bluffs along the Colorado River.
A standout is the tough 6.8-mile Gorman Falls Trail. It passes through verdant river gorges before arriving at an impressive 60-foot waterfall. The Falls Trail takes you to a sandy beach area below a pretty 10-foot cascade. For the best canyon views, hike the 2-mile Tie Slide Mountain Trail along exposed ridge tops. With its rugged terrain and beautiful scenery, Colorado Bend is the best hiking in Texas.
5. McKinney Falls State Park
Just outside of Austin, you’ll find the hiking gems of McKinney Falls State Park. The park centers around two scenic waterfalls nestled in a narrow canyon along Onion Creek. The Homestead Trail creates a 3.7-mile loop past many historic features of the old Smithwick homestead as well as great views of both waterfalls.
For a shorter hike, consider the 1-mile McKinney Falls Overlook Trail which takes you to scenic vistas above 81-foot upper McKinney Falls. The park also has a 0.8-mile nature trail and paved walking paths near the waterfalls, making this a great spot for easy family-friendly hiking.
6. Old Tunnel State Park
One of the most unique places to hike in Texas Hill Country is Old Tunnel State Park near Fredericksburg. In summer over three million Mexican free-tailed bats make their home in an abandoned railroad tunnel in the park.
The easy 0.7-mile Bat Watching Trail leads right to the tunnel entrance, where you can witness the bats emerge for nightly feeding. The Cookie Cliff Interpretive Trail makes a 1.5-mile loop past limestone cliffs with informative signs about the area’s unique ecosystem. For great birdwatching, try the 2.3-mile Dragonfly Trail through meadows, woods, and streams.