Jun 25

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5 Amazing Hiking Locations In Austin, Texas

texas trails

Hiking in Texas

Non-native Texans might think of the Lone Star State as smack dab in the middle of the Great Plains with green prairies as far as the eye can see, and thus not an optimal location for hiking. However, native Texans definitely know that while that may be true in most of the state, Austin is Texas Hill country. Though our state capital doesn’t quite boast Mt. Everest, central Texas is a beautiful place with many opportunities for both amateur and professional hikers alike.

1. Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve

Known more for the eponymous “Hamilton Pool” than its hiking trails, the Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve is a great, scenic option for hikers looking to take a dip after some hiking. The area formed by thousands of years of erosion surfaced the once underground pool, now exposing some breathtaking cliffs and great scenery for a hike. Even if you have no interest in the pool itself you can skip the “pool trail” for the more isolated, demanding, but equally scenic “river trail” which follows the Hamilton Pool’s outlet to the Pedernales River.

2. The Barton Creek Greenbelt

Stretching over seven miles, the Greenbelt should be a mandatory bullet point on any hiker’s bucket list. Starting close to Austin’s famed Zilker Park–the home of the ACL Music Festival–the trail continues to the outer portion of the city. Along the way, you’ll travel alongside the Barton Creek that feeds into Barton Springs Pool (a name any Austinite knows). This means that if you find a nice secluded area (that’s deep enough) you can take a break and hop in the water for a quick swim. Along the way, you’ll get vistas of towering cliffs and a trek through a dense forest that may make you forget you’re in the middle of the city.

3. Enchanted Rock

It might be cheating to list this great hike on the list because it’s in nearby Fredericksburg. That being said, you’re missing out if you choose not to make the detour to this great hiking location. The giant rock in question is a structure known as a “batholith” formed by a pocket of magma rising beneath the crust of the earth and gradually pushing the crust upward forming a dome-like structure. Boasting a height of nearly 2,000 feet, the summit of this incredible structure boasts a sweeping view of the surrounding area that shouldn’t be missed. Estimates guess this structure formed over 1 billion years ago and is amongst the oldest rock formations in North America.

4. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center — Restoration Research Trail

It might be blasphemous for uber-serious hikers to call this relatively short, flat trail an “amazing hiking opportunity.” But for the hiker who’s also an aesthete at heart, it’s hard not to love this trail. Any Texan knows that Lady Bird Johnson was responsible for the “beautification” of our nation’s highways by planting flowers and supporting wildlife preservation efforts. The Wildflower Center continues her legacy as a lover of flora and fauna, with the University of Texas-affiliated Center functioning as a research center devoted to the preservation and study of native plants. However, as previously mentioned, the center also boasts a relatively short 1.25 mile “trail” which allows you to experience the beauty of nature unaffected by the urban center of the city surrounding it. Whether you just need a break from the rough terrain of “real” hiking, or just want to see a bunch of wildflowers in their natural habitat, you can’t go wrong with this trail.

5. Mt. Bonnell (Covert Park)

Though Mount Bonnell has gained the false moniker of the highest point in Austin which isn’t exactly true, that doesn’t detract from its great environment. Right in the middle of an urban city center is Covert Park in which Mount Bonnell lies. Meaning that when you reach the top you’ll be granted a beautiful view of the city, Lake Austin and the surrounding park. Again, we’ll be honest, the route to the top isn’t too much of hike–arguably not even a hike at all since there are stairs to the top. However, the small trail at the “summit” and the scenic view make up for all of that. If you’re visiting Austin or just have never been, a trip to Mount Bonnell is an experience you must partake in.

Ricardo Casas is the CEO of Fahrenheit Marketing LLC, an Internet Marketing company based in Austin, TX. A true Austinite, Ricardo loves the city for all of its benefits including its fantastic scenery and hiking opportunities.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2013/06/25/5-amazing-hiking-locations-in-austin-texas/


  1. greatplainstrail

    Ausin is a great town for walking and urban hiking!

    1. greatplainstrail

      Oops . . . That’s Austin with a “t.”

    2. trailsnet

      It’s great to see towns like Austin getting incredible networks of trails. It improves a city’s health, tourism, recreation, commuting, environment…

      Hopefully all cities & states begin to recognize the fantastic value of urban and suburban trails.

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