Austin is well known for its restaurants and nightlife, but it has several hidden gems when it comes to hiking trails. Austin trails are all over the city, you just have to look for them.
The best part about Austin hiking trails is they have something for everyone. Whether you are looking for fitness or just a relaxing stroll.
Austin has a network of hiking trails, some with swimming holes and waterfalls. And it would be a crime not to do at least one or two. These are our top choices for the best places to hike in Austin.
Looking for more hikes in the USA? Here are our guides to the best hikes in Las Vegas and the Bay area.
Tips for Hiking in Austin
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When hiking in Austin, be sure to always stay hydrated and have the right equipment. It’s best to pack an extra layer of warm clothes and remember the golden rule is to always have fun.
Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail
This hike traverses a 10-mile trail along the Lady Bird Lake in the heart of downtown Austin. It’s a well-known and loved park, and is one of the best hikes in Austin. The trail is a mixture of natural beauty and people, so it often gets busy.
The trail is best experienced at sunrise or sunset and has seven viewing areas, making it a perfect place for exercise. The park is accessible to anyone and the trail is wheelchair and stroller friendly. This makes it a perfect spot for anyone who wants to enjoy a walk in the park.
McKinney Falls State Park
Hiking near Austin? McKinney is a park with so much to offer and then some. More well known to locals as a swimming hole, the park also has hiking and biking trails. Visitors also have the option to do some rock climbing.
There is a small entrance fee of $6, but it’s also a great place for camping, so you can enjoy all the trails they have to offer. With trails as short as 2.8 miles and as long as 9 miles, it provides something for the strollers and for fitness lovers.
Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve
A nature-lovers dream hike. The Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve hike is a short one, as the trail runs for 2.5 miles. However, its beauty makes up for the lack in distance with its nature. With views at every corner, a creek, and a waterfall, it’s easily one of the best Austin hikes.
Unfortunately it’s not open to dogs or bikes, but the preserve does have something for kids. The Wild Basin Creative Research Center provides free educational activities for kids to enjoy. Best experienced at sun-rise, the trail is perfect for bird watchers while some wildlife can also be spotted on your run.
St. Edwards Park
One of the best places to go hiking near Austin is St. Edwards Park. It is a hidden gem that doesn’t get as crowded as the trails in the city. The trail is more well-known for its beauty, offering a short 3-mile hike with a few inclines to make you break a sweat.
It’s best to take this trail in Spring, when it’s nice and cool and the flowers get a chance to bloom. Take the trail all around the creek, and you’ll have already passed some stunning waterfalls.
More easier and moderate hikes can be found on the east and north of the park. The more challenging hikes can be found on the south and west parts of the park.
River Place Nature Trail
This is one of the more challenging hikes around Austin, Texas. River Place is not a trail for beginners, it’s more for experienced runners looking to practice hill running. Back and forth the trail is 5-6 miles long and can be extended further if you include the Panther trail.
The trail does offer great swimming holes as resting spots or as an opportunity to relax and cool-down your muscles after the hike. It’s a dog-friendly route, so if you want your four-legged friend to join you, we highly encourage it.
The most touristy trail by far, Mount Bonnell is more a romantic trail than a hard running trail. At 1.5 miles you would think that this is a walk in the park, but it is actually a steep walk and climb. But, in the end it is very rewarding, as the hill offers stunning views out over Lake Austin.
The best time to get on top of the hill is at sunset. Watching the sunset over the beautiful lake is a rewarding prize for completing the trail. You also wouldn’t need the best equipment, as some people complete the climb with just sandals.
If you are looking for a good first-date hike trail, Mount Bonnell is the one for you.
Turkey Creek Trail
At almost 3 miles long, the Turkey Creek Trail is short and sweet, filled with great scenery. A more dog-friendly park, you can take your furry friend without a leash. Despite being dominated by dogs, the trail is still a good hiking trail whether you go for a stroll or a quick jog; it’s perfect for both.
Depending on the time of year and the water-level, there are some natural attractions like little waterfalls and natural pools all around. It’s a good morning to midday trail but it’s not best to take it on during the night or just after sunset. The trail can be confusing if hiked with no light.
Whether it’s for your dogs, or for you, this trail definitely will be fun for everyone.
Now pick your next Austin Hiking Trail
Austin hiking trails offer something for everyone. With trails for experts, beginners, runners, and strollers, the list is almost endless.
With so many trails available, it’s easy to see why hikes in Austin are so popular. Whether you want to challenge yourself, have a walk through nature, or experience stunning views of the city, Austin is the place for you.
Now, start your hiking adventures in Austin.