Jun 25

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/

Jun 24

5 Great Hiking Trails Near Cypress, Texas

Texas Hiking Trails

Cypress, Texas and the greater Houston metropolitan area aren’t known for their abundance of fantastic hiking

texas trails

Hiking in Texas

trails. That doesn’t mean Houston lacks hiking trails, however, it simply means you have to look a little bit harder to find them. To help you and your family get out of the house and into nature, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite hiking trails within a couple hours driving of Cypress.

Stephen F. Austin State Park

Perched on the banks of the Brazos River, Stephen F. Austin is a great place to take the family for a day. A maze of trails north of the campground leads up to the river and makes for a perfect afternoon stroll. Pack a picnic to eat on the walk or afterwards at one of the day-use areas. Bring fishing poles too, as there are quite a few fishing areas along the river. An overlook at the northeast end of the park provides a very pretty view of the river and makes for a good walking destination.

Brazos Bend State Park

Also situated along the Brazos River, Brazos Bend has an extensive network of trails which circle a few of the park’s lakes and lead through some of the hardwood forests that aren’t accessible to the casual visitor. Fishing is available on many of the park’s docks. Visitors are advised to be cautious of the park’s abundant alligator population. Seen from a viewing platform or pier, the alligators are a wonderful part of the Brazos Bend’s ecosystem and one of the most exhilarating parts of hiking the park.

Memorial Park

For hikers who don’t want to watch their feet for alligators, Memorial Park in downtown Houston is the place to be. While Memorial won’t feel quite as “natural” as some of the area’s state parks, it’s a great place to walk with family and affords some fantastic views of the Houston skyline. Memorial is a favorite for the city’s joggers and includes a golf course and tennis courts for those family members who might not want to hit the pathways.

Kleb Woods Nature Preserve

Kleb Woods Nature Preserve is located near Tomball, Texas and offers a 2.2 mile loop that winds through the woods for an easy day hike. It’s the perfect spot to bring the family on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Dogs are allowed in the park but must be kept on a leash. For residents of Cypress, the best part of Kleb Woods is that it’s only a few minutes away and you don’ t have to deal with any highway traffic to get there.

W.G. Jones State Forest

Located north of the Woodlands, W.G. Jones has twelve miles of trails that wind through the forest and make for a pleasant day hike. It’s a relatively flat course and is often used for horse riding and mountain biking.  The park is owned and operated by the Texas A&M Forest Service which practices sound stewardship of the native flora and fauna. The park is a great resource for those interested in forest management.

Dr. Mina Tadros, a Cypress dentist, is the founder of Tadros Dental which provides cosmetic, resotrative and general dentistry services to Cypress, Texas and surrounding communities.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2013/06/24/5-great-hiking-trails-near-cypress-texas/

Jun 17

Camino Santiago De Compostela & 3 Other Pilgrimage Trails

Pilgrimages are particularly long journeys that have been around for centuries and have brought people together from all over the globe with the same moral or spiritual purpose in mind. This is still a common practice today, although the reasons people have for embarking on one is now widely vary and include everything from being faith based to looking for a fitness challenge. Whether you set out on Spains Camino Santiago de Compostela, the Shikoku path in Japan or any other international pilgrimage trail, you are sure to gain a rewarding experience that will stay with you for years to come.

Camino Santiago de Compostela, Spain

The Camino Santiago de Compostela is one of the most popular and known Christian pilgrimage expeditions in the world. Traditionally, travelers walk the 500 miles over approximately 30 days to reach their final destination, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. However, bikes and horseback are also known for getting pilgrims to the site believed to be the burial grounds for the Apostle James. Over the course of your time on the Camino, you will have the opportunity to see some of Spain’s most beautiful landscapes and architecture, be captivated by history and culture and, hopefully, find some inner peace.

Shikoku, Japan

It is the Buddhist faith that first brought people on the pilgrimage to the 88 Sacred Places of Shikoku in Japan. A few thousand visitors a year attempt the 670-mile walk around the island, completing it in about 40 days. Walking in a clockwise direction around Shikoku, pilgrims customarily visit the 88 main temples that were built to serve the common people (fishermen, carpenters, housewives, etc). The spiritual belief behind this pilgrimage is that you are passing through four different stages, beginning in the Dojo of Awakening Faith, moving into the Dojo of Religious Discipline, then the Dojo of Enlightenment, and finally, the Dojo of Nirvana

Cammino di Assisi, Italy

Pilgrims who travel on the Cammino di Assisi are following in the footsteps of St. Francis and St. Anthony. The trek is roughly 185 miles and is typically done in just about two weeks. The journey begins in Dovadola and passes through some of the greatest views and countryside of Italy before ending in Assisi where you will have the chance to visit the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. The trail can be difficult in areas, winding through the Apennine mountains, and walkers are suggested to be physically and mentally prepared.

St. Paul’s Trail, Turkey

St. Paul’s Trail in Turkey is about 310 miles and follows the path said to be taken by the Apostle Paul in an effort to spread the Christian faith. This is a fairly new pilgrimage, in terms of being developed, and is still considered remote and untainted by tourists. Visitors will walk through preserved villages, wander around Roman ruins, facilitate deep canyons and happen upon picturesque waterfalls and peaceful lakes. If you’re looking for a challenge, St. Paul’s Trail certainly offers one since it begins at sea level and ascends as high as 7,200 feet.

Departing on a pilgrimage may not sound like the ideal relaxing vacation you had in mind, but it’s really meant to be a change from the norm and challenge those who make the effort to step outside of their physical and mental comfort zone. As people conquer miles and miles of trails like Camino Santiago de Compostela and Cammino di Assisi each year, they gain the ultimate sense of achievement and may even find a strength they didn’t know they had within.

My name is Tiffany Olson and I absolutely love all things travel related. I have plans to trek Camino Santiago de Compostela next summer and I can’t wait for the adventure. When I’m not blogging or dreaming of foreign lands you will usually find me cooking, reading, or hanging out with good friends.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2013/06/17/camino-santiago-de-compostela-3-other-pilgrimage-trails/

Jun 15

Hiking Italy II: The Isle of Capri

Hiking Near Positano Italy

Positano is one of the most beautiful towns of the coast, with its Hiking Italy
pristine bay surrounded by pastel-painted houses rising up the steep
hillside, anchored by its church’s incredible yellow and green tiled
dome. It’s a strenuous hike to Monte Pertuso, a natural arch shading
a tiny mountain village. For a mellow day, head to lovely Nocelle,
which was not accessible by road until this decade, and back down to
Positano for lunch on the beach. For a longer hike with well-marked
paths and gorgeous views of both mountains and sea, continue through
the forest to the church of Santa Maria del Castello, then wind back
down to Positano.

Hiking the Island of Capri

The island of Capri is home to a wonderful stairclimb hike that will
get you away from the crowds. Until the road was built in the 19th
century, the 995 steps of the Scala Fenice were the only way to travel
from the upper town of the island, Anacapri, to the marina. The way is
obvious and steep, but there are frequent landings to take in the
view. After the steps it’s a gentle walk to the lovely Villa San
Michele, former home of the doctor Axel Munthe; his autobiography The
Story of San Michele describes his life on the island. The gardens
house his collection of antiquities and boast views of the entire Bay
of Naples, and the surrounding land is a bird sanctuary. If the stairs
didn’t provide you with enough exercise, head back to Capri piazza
and pick up a caprese sandwich (fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil, and
olive oil–delicious!), then walk up to explore the Villa Jovis, the
ruins of the villa of Roman emperor Tiberius.

Hiking the Amalfi Coast allows you to explore the natural beauty of
this UNESCO World Heritage Site up close and at leisure, making for an
unforgettable trip.

For complete directions for these hikes and others, I highly recommend
the walking guide Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast from Sunflower Books,
sunflowerbooks.co.uk.

Audrey Sheridan is a food-lover and doctor who is passionate about
helping people take charge of their health and happiness by making
positive lifestyle choices. She blogs at eattothrive.blogspot.com.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2013/06/15/hiking-italy-ii-the-isle-of-capri/

Jun 13

Hiking Italy: Coastal Trails & Mountainous Paths

Amalfi Hiking Adventures

Italy’s Amalfi coast — La Costiera Amalfitana — has everything you’d italian trail
expect from a Mediterranean paradise: turquoise water, sunny beaches,
jaw-dropping vistas, gorgeous architecture & incredible food. Burn off
your gelato with day hikes that take you from coast to mountains and
back again, with stops in picturesque towns along the way; this
destination is a hiker’s dream.

My favorite day: wake up in a pleasant hotel in Minori and start the
day with cappuccino and pastries. Fill a water bottle and head up the
hill, winding through terraced vineyards and gardens on
well-maintained paths and staircases. You might pass a
highly-contested game of bocce, or sunning cats to pet along the way.
The views only improve as you climb higher. Take a few minutes to
visit the quiet pink chapel in Torello, and then continue climbing to
scenic Ravello. The comedy ‘Beat the Devil’, starring Humphrey
Bogart and Gina Lollobrigida, was filmed here; imagine the story
unfolding in the town’s piazza. Ravello is a lovely place to just
wander, with surprise coastal views and tiny parks, and to pick up a
light lunch.

I love the Villa Cimbrone, where the garden paths provide
shady walking to the incomparable view from the Belvedere of Infinity.
When you’re ready, head down the other side of the hill past the
Church of Santa Cosma that is carved into the hillside and through
olive groves to tiny Atrani, on the coast. From Atrani it’s a short
stroll to Amalfi, once one of the richest towns in Italy. Grab an
outdoor table at the piazza’s Art Nouveau bar, and pause to take in
the square with its sparkling cathedral. After seeing the sights in
Amalfi, you can make the gentle walk through lemon trees back to
Minori, or catch a bus up the winding coastal road. By now it’s time
for a gelato and a walk along the beach before dinner: Naples-style
pizza or freshly-caught fish and of course a glass of wine, followed
by the delicious local limoncello liqueur. Total hiking time around
four to five hours, with time to wander this circuit takes all day.You’ll sleep well tonight!

Hiking Italy’s Hill Country

For a longer, more mountainous hike, climb the hill to the south of Minori to the tiny convent of San Nicola; it’s typically closed, but you may be lucky to find the caretaker there cleaning the chapel and preparing a lunch of porcini mushrooms he’d collected on the way up. Take in the view as the trail continues through the chestnut forest to the village of Sambuco, then back down to Minori.

This is the first in a two-part series about hiking the trails of Italy written by Audrey Sheridan, a food-lover and doctor who is passionate about helping people take charge of their health and happiness by making positive lifestyle choices. She blogs at eattothrive.blogspot.com.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2013/06/13/hiking-italy-coastal-trails-mountainous-paths/

May 29

Hiking on Australian Trails

Great Hikes in the Great Outback

Written by: Dennis Aimes, health insurance specialist with HBF

Australia is home to thousands of destinations for countless adventures.  The island continent is home to a variety of options for the hiking enthusiast as well.  With hikes ranging from a quick morning walk to those taking a month or more, there are options for hikers of any skill level.

Before taking on any trek, especially one in unfamiliar territory, you should always be prepared.  Having the proper gear for safety and travel are a good start in Australia, and because outdoor tourism is one of the biggest draws for vacationers in Australia, there are usually guided or assisted tour options available for nearly every trek, trail, and walk available.

australia hiking

Hiking in Australia

When you’re all set and ready to go, strap on your boots and take a look at some of the many hiking trails in Australia.

The Kings Canyon Rim Walk, Northern Territory

If you’re relatively new to hiking or want a very light warm-up before tackling something tougher, then the Kings Canyon Rim is the place to start.  The trail starts with a steep climb to the rim of Kings Canyon.  From there the walk is mostly flatland as you make your way along the nearly 4 mile loop takes you around and back again in around four hours, making this a perfect little day trip.

If you’re looking for a little relaxation after such a busy day, there are plenty of nearby resorts offering lavish comforts and a place to hang your boots for the night.

The Kosciuszko Walk, New South Wales

For a bit of a longer trek the Kosciuszko Walk offers beautiful scenery that can be experienced in a day.  A chairlift takes you to the starting point at Thredbo where you engage on a roughly nine mile loop that takes you over the Snowy River, through Rawson Pass, to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko and back again.  The whole journey takes about five hours from start to finish, but you may want to add on a little bit more for resting and sightseeing.

The Great Ocean Walk, Victoria

hiking near the ocean in australia

beach trails in Australia

This is the perfect place when you’re ready to add a little bit more challenge and test your hiking mettle.  The hiker’s answer to the Great Ocean Road, the Great Ocean Walk runs closer to the coast than the freeway and offers some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in the country.  It is one of the most popular choices for hiking in Australia as the trail passes nearby to natural homes of koalas and many historic sites.

Stretching 65 miles from Apollo Bay to Glenample Homestead, the whole journey takes just a little bit more than one week to complete.  However, the trail is divided into three distinct difficulty levels, with the length from Apollo Bay to Cape Otway seen as the easiest, the path to Ryans Den increasing the challenge, and the stretch to the end meant for the hardiest of hikers.

With campsites spaced around every ten miles and transportation available to and from the trail at most of these checkpoints, the Great Ocean Walk is ideal for the pick-and-choose hiker to customize their journey.  Check the reports before you take on some of the later parts of the trail, as weather conditions such as high tide can make certain parts all but completely impassable.

The Larapinta Trail, Northern Territory

If getting ready for your own personal Australian walkabout is your goal then the Larapinta Trail is how you go big or go home.  This lengthy 135 mile quest starts from the Alice Springs Telegraph Station and runs to Redbank Gorge.  It is one of Australia’s newer trails but that doesn’t make it any easier as it can take roughly twenty days to complete.

Pamphlets and signs help travelers find camp-sites and nearby water sources.  This brutal summer sun makes this an ideal winter journey, as summer temperatures along the trail can easily reach more than 110° Fahrenheit.

The journey offers its own rewards by way of passing through many sacred Aboriginal sites, which the Aranda people have permitted visitors to pass through.  It traverses a variety of landscapes along ridge lines, plains, and riverbeds.

However you choose to walk is up to you and when touch ground, you’ll soon find that no matter what kind of adventure you’re seeking, Australia has it.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2013/05/29/australian-trail-hiking/

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