25 Best Austin Hiking Trails

Living in Austin means that a good hike is just around the corner; an example is the popular Barton Creek Green Belt. Less than half hour from Austin's downtown, River Place Nature trail takes you to a completely different world of picturesque rocks and streams. Large parks like spacious St. Edward's Park offer a watering hole where you can cool off. Hiking or running through Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve will give you an opportunity to see and hear many birds. Some, like County Line Memorial Trail, even have stationary fitness stations to combine your run with other workout regimes. Photo: Fotoluminate LLC/Fotolia


»Barton Creek Greenbelt

Barton Creek Greenbelt


Barton Creek Greenbelt is the most popular network of hiking trails in south-central Austin, with 2.68 miles of beautiful paths that go through lush greenery. Various trails that are part of the greenbelt can be accessed from several points. The main trailhead is on Barton Springs Road. It starts on a flat terrain, and is easy for beginners. From the Spyglass access point, go north towards Campbell's Hole where you can cool off in the clear swimming hole. As you head south, you will pass by one of several fun climbing walls on the limestone cliffs. From Gus Fruh trailhead, you will quickly reach another, deeper watering hole and several limestone climbing walls. When there is no water, you can walk up Barton Creek.

3755 S Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78704 25 Best Austin Hiking Trails - Photo: Melanie/Fotolia

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»River Place Nature Trail

River Place Nature Trail


River Place Nature Trail is one of Austin's well-kept secrets. Fairly challenging six miles trail is mostly dirt, with quite a number of stairs and a few water crossings. All along the trail is lush greenery and a shade of tall trees, always cool and pleasant, a heaven on hot summer days. After climbing endless number of stairs, you can cool off in the creeks you have to jump over or waterfalls you pass by, before you reach high elevation with spectacular views. The trail is clear, without obstacles and is great for experienced runners. You can also bring your pooch.

8820 Big View Dr, Austin, TX 78730 25 Best Austin Hiking Trails - Photo: Fotoluminate LLC/Fotolia

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»Turkey Creek Trail

Turkey Creek Trail


One of Austin lesser known trails, Turkey Creek Trail is for people who like a bit of solitude during their hike. Located close to the Emma Metropolitan Park, the trail is 2.8 miles. It is mostly flat and has a creek running along one side of the trail and a lush forest on the other. There are some uphill parts and a few creek crossings. Most of the path is a dirt trail, though in some parts it has been washed out to expose tree roots and loose rocks. The only unpleasant part of this hike is the horseflies, so cover up and bring your bug spray. Dogs are allowed.

1401-1711 City Park Rd, Austin, TX 78730 25 Best Austin Hiking Trails - Photo: Fotoluminate LLC/Fotolia

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»St. Edward's Park

St. Edward's Park

Lush, spacious St. Edward's Park has a number of lovely trails, some that run along a creek and others heading uphill. The main loop trail is 3.3 miles long and will gain you 390 feet in elevation, not enough to even break a sweat. The trails run through lush wooded terrain and pass by a few watering holes and waterfalls, perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day. There are even a few rope swings. The trail ends on top of a hill, a perfect spot to take a break and enjoy the view. Dogs are allowed, but there are snakes in the area, so watch where you step and keep an eye on your dog.

7301 Spicewood Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78759 25 Best Austin Hiking Trails - Photo: toransu/Fotolia

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»Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve

Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve


Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve is a 227-acre conservation area established in 1974 to protect native Texas Hill Country. It is located in Westlake Hills west of Austin and has 2.5 miles of hiking trails throughout the beautiful woodlands of Hill Country. The entrance to the preserve is about a mile north of Bee Caves Road. The marked trail has pleasant creek crossings and a number of steep stairs but it is otherwise fairly easy and is well maintained. Walk along the creek if you are afraid of getting lost. Wild Basin is home to the endangered Golden–cheeked warbler and many native plants and wildlife. There are guided hikes on Saturdays. Bikes and dogs are not allowed.

805 N Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78746 25 Best Austin Hiking Trails - Photo: Alexandre/Fotolia

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25 Best Austin Hiking Trails



Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail

Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail are a 10-mile long scenic loop along Lady Bird Lake, a Colorado River reservoir. This mostly asphalt trail runs through Zilker Park on one end and Guerrero Park on the other. It is lush and shaded by large trees and passes by Waller and Lamar beaches, ideal if you want a little cool-off. At one point, the trail passes under Congress Avenue Bridge, where you can expect to meet huge number of bats that wake up around sundown. Another part of the trail runs on the lakefront boardwalk, with a series of bridges over the water.

1820 S Lakeshore Blvd, Austin, TX 78741

Balcones Park Hiking Trail

Northwest Balcones Park is a typical six-acre neighborhood park in northern Austin with basketball courts, picnic shelters, barbecue pits, and kids' playgrounds. In the back of the park is a lovely one-mile loop trail that runs along Wallnut Creek, overlooking open fields. The flat trail is paved and easy for any fitness level.

8172-11972 Dorsett Rd, Austin, TX 78727

Boggy Creek

Boggy Creek is a lush 89-acre urban creek-side park with open fields, shady areas, grass fields , picnic tables, shelters, a volleyball court, and a beautiful one-mile long trail. The trail runs along the cool, lively Boggy Creek. It is an easy almost flat paved trail. Boggy Creek is rarely crowded and is a favorite among nature lovers and bird watchers. It offers beautiful views in all directions. Bikers use it as well, and dogs are allowed on a leash.

1114 Nile St, Austin, TX 78702

Bright Leaf Preserve

Bright Leaf Preserve is a unique 200-acre natural area in west Austin established to protect a large number of native Texas plant species, some very rare, and several endangered animal species such as the Golden Cheeked Warbler. This natural park offers a superb educational opportunity for urban kids to learn about diverse ecosystems that provide home to deer, jackrabbits, great horned owls, and armadillos. There is a four-mile long dirt trail that runs through the preserve but only guided hikes are allowed. Trained rangers take visitors out on a hike every second Saturday and Sunday at 9 am, for about four hours.

4315 Guadalupe Street, Suite 300, Austin, TX 78751

Brushy Creek Regional Trail

Brushy Creek Regional Trail is a 10.4-mile trail in the Austin's northern suburbs. It has two trailheads: Forest Ridge Boulevard and Twin Lakes Park. The trail consists of two distinct segments and is mostly made of crushed stone. The longer segment winds through the Cedar Park for about seven miles. It connects many parks along the way, offering diverse recreational opportunities, including swimming, fishing, rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking and picnicking. The other section— Brushy Creek East Trail—runs for three miles and on its western end runs along the north bank of Brushy Creek and through dense woodlands.

Brushy Creek Regional Trail, Cedar Park, TX 78613

Bull Creek District Park

Bull Creek District Park is a 48-acre green oasis in north central Austin with Bull Creek running through the park, creating spectacular scenery very popular with local residents looking for a cool spot in the summer. There is a network of diverse trails running through the park. The short but scenic Inga Van Nynatten Memorial Trail is fairly flat. It's an easy trail about a mile long, with a trailhead close to Lakewood Drive. Several other trails run along the creek and are part of the Greenbelt. You will have to cross the creek several times, but the water is not deep most of the time. When there is a lot of water, the creek forms lovely waterfalls.

6701 Lakewood Dr, Austin, TX 78731

Colorado River Park Wildlife Sanctuary

Colorado River Wildlife Sanctuary and the trails that run through it starts at 5827 Levander Loop, just off the small parking area under the Montopolis Bridge. The trail is unpaved, mostly flat, less than a mile long. At its end you can rest and enjoy the lovely view of the river, before coming back the same way. The area is pretty swampy and wooded, full of birds, making the hike very pleasant and serene with a few other people around.

5827 Levander Loop, Austin, TX 78702

Cottonwood Creek Trail

The Cottonwood Creek Trail is a three-mile paved urban trail that runs between several parks and schools. The first half follows Cottonwood Creek through scenic Creekside Park, but from Meadowside Drive you have to take a sidewalk along Carl Stern Boulevard. While the trail provides recreational opportunity for the local residents, it is not very scenic and attractive except for the portion through Creekside Park. The possible trailheads are located at Hutto Elementary School and Creekside Park.

County Line Memorial Trail

County Line Memorial Trail is a 2.18-mile trail shaded by trees on both sides, and it runs through a three-acre piece of land,between FM 1044 to FM 725. You can find three fitness stations at various points along the trail with six kinds of exercise equipment, so you can combine hiking with other kinds of exercise. The trail runs through an important wetland area and has educational panels placed along the trail to inform visitors about the local wildlife such as grogs, birds, and dragonflies. The trail passes through several neighborhoods and Hoffman, Kraft, and Fischer parks.

New Braunfels, TX 78130

Crestview/Highland Urban Trail

A little less than a mile long, the Crestview/Highland Urban Trail connects Crestview and Highland MetroRail stations in north Austin. The trail is paved with concrete and runs along Airport Boulevard and the rail line. The urban landscape is softened with landscaping of trees and greenery between the trail and the noisy roadway. The trail passes by the former Highland Mall at the southern end, now converted to Austin Community College.

San Gabriel

The San Gabriel River Trail ,6.6 miles long and eight feet wide, is a crushed rock and asphalt trail that runs along the lively North and South San Gabriel Rivers. This exceptionally scenic trail passes by various historic monuments, natural springs, and animal tracks. About 26 miles from Austin at Lake Georgetown, the trail meets the United States Corps of Engineers trail. As you hike, pay attention to any of the numerous birds you might see. You'll also find historic Blue Hole where you can cool off and an interesting star gazing area.

445 E. Morrow Street, Georgetown, TX

McKinney Falls State Park

The 682-acre McKinney Falls State Park is located on the outskirts of Austin at the confluence of Onion Creek and Williamson Creek. The spectacularly beautiful park is densely forested with groves of sycamores, pecans, cypress and oaks. There are two magnificent waterfalls on Onion Creek and plenty of opportunities to have fun on water or land. You can hike nine miles of diverse trails, go fishing, bouldering, biking, or camping in one of more than 90 campgrounds, or you can simply enjoy the nature. If you are lucky, you will spot armadillos, white-tailed deer, raccoons, and fox squirrels. The most popular trails are the 2.8-mile Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail, which is easy, flat and has a hard surface, and the 6.7-mile Onion Creek and Homestead Trail Loop, which will take you to the waterfall.

5808 McKinney Falls Parkway, Austin, TX 78744

Northwest Greenway

Northwest Greenway is a lovely urban park full of trees and green spaces, picnic areas, kids' playgrounds, and about five miles of mostly dirt hiking and biking trail. The trail is flat and ten feet wide, perfect for strollers though not a very challenging hiking adventure. Bring your dog and take a break on a bench in one of several shady trellised spots covered in ivy.

Philomena St, Austin, TX 78722

Shoal Creek Trail

Shoal Creek Trail is a 3.7-mile mixed dirt, gravel, and concrete trail almost in the center of Austin. You can use one of the two trailheads: Cesar Chavez St.. and W. 38th St. It is amazing how quickly you will leave behind the hustle and bustle of the city and enter tranquil world of old oak trees as they form dense canopy over the cheerful creek. It is one of Austin's oldest trails, and it passes through Pease and Duncan parks and a little rocky canyon close to the northern end of the trail. The trail connects with the Lance Armstrong Bikeway on the banks of Colorado River, the trail's southern end.

Cesar Chavez St., Austin, TX

Slaughter Creek Trail

Slaughter Creek Trail is a five-mile loop natural surface trail at the Circle C neighborhood that runs along the creek. The trail, a restored savanna, is secluded and cannot be seen from the road, making the hikes quiet and solitary. Surrounded by grass, it does not have very much shade. The trail is not difficult and does not gain much elevation, but it crosses the creek and runs around three hills. The trail is bi-directional – hikers and bikers go in one direction and horseback riders in the other. Because of horses, dogs are not allowed on the trail.

9901 Farm-to-Market 1826, Austin, TX 78737

Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park

Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park is a 293-acre natural park not far from downtown Austin. It has great sports facilities, kids' playgrounds, a watering hole, a swimming pool, and a dog park. There are about 15 miles of natural surface trails running through different parts of the park, making each a different experience. The trails run through dense greenery and many trees provide pleasant shade. They are almost flat and easy to hike, with only a few exposed roots and loose rocks.

12138 N. Lamar Blvd.

Lockhart State Park

For a state park, Lockhart State Park is fairly small but includes many unique features, including a golf course and a number of marked trails that add up to about three miles of fairly strenuous hiking. Caddy Trail is a rocky trail that heads south from the recreation hall, running downhill towards the road. After it crosses the road, it becomes the Chisolm Trail, a bit wider and easier to navigate through bushes. Watch for small craters in the sandy trail made by ant lions. One of the side trails is Persimmon Trail, lined by numerous Persimmon trees.

2012 State Park Road, Lockhart, TX 78644

Hamilton Pool to Pedernales River

Hamilton Pool is a lovely park in Travis County, about half hour from Austin. While this park is famous for its fantastic, clear swimming hole, it is also a place where a 0.6-mile long trail starts towards the Pedernales River. The landscape drastically changes as you leave the lush area around the pool and get into more typical dry Texan landscape closer to the Pedernales River. This hike is very nice during the winter when you will probably have the trail to yourself.

Goat Cave Karst Preserve

The hike through Goat Cave Karst Preserve is very short (only about .15 miles), but it offers something fascinating around every corner. Only a few steps from the trailhead just off Deer Lane is the Wade Sinkhole, a four-foot sinkhole the water eroded into the rock. You can climb into it to see the cave just below the ledge. If you are really adventurous, you can actually climb in to check out the cave. A bit down the path is the Hideout, a small opening often used by wildlife as a sanctuary. Goat Cave, more farther down, is fenced because it opens to a dangerous 25-drop, so all you can do is look on from the edge.

3900 Deer Ln, Austin, TX 78749