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Austin, Texas isn’t just known for its weird culture and amazing tacos. Texas’ capital city is full of greenways, therefore locals and visitors can find a great hiking trail within the city’s limits. No matter if you’re looking for a peaceful and easy walk or a challenging uphill hike, there is a hike on this list to please all skill levels. Escape the city life and explore Austin’s parks, preserves and green areas through one of these 10 best hikes in Austin.
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This short hike in Austin will make you forget that you’re in the middle of a city. Found off Capital of Texas Highway, also known as Loop 360, this 2.5-mile hike takes you through Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve. This preserve was created to protect and preserve Austin wildlife and endangered animals. Therefore dogs and bikes are not allowed. The hike itself is fairly easy and boasts a great view overlooking the Texas Hill Country.
Find solitude on the miles of hiking trails at the only state park within Austin city limits, McKinney Falls State Park. Many people flock to this state park when the falls are flowing. Hike the popular trail leading to the upper or lower falls or choose to walk the Homestead Trail that leads hikers to a historic stone home. Since this is a state park, a small fee is required to enter the park. McKinney Falls is also a popular spot to camp and swim too.
Turkey Creek Trail, located near The Emma Metropolitan Park, offers a peaceful and flat trail with some minor creek crossings during the rainy months. The three-mile hike on Turkey Creek Trail is perfect for families or those with kids. If you’d like to explore more of the area, there are side trails off of Turkey Creek Trail that are worth exploring.
For those in northwest Austin, head to St. Edwards Park & Trail for an easy hike with some uphill moments. This trail offers some great scenery too, such as views of Bull Creek and its waterfalls, an overlook of the park and an opportunity to get a photo op of one of the biggest cactus patches in the city. There are actually two trails found here, the hill trail and the creek trail. For those seeking a bit of a challenge, choose to hike the hill trail.
The Barton Creek Greenbelt, or simply referred to as “the Greenbelt” by locals, offers over seven miles of trail for hikers. The Greenbelt runs through the city and has seven access points. This area is popular among tourists and locals alike. When the water is flowing, the Greenbelt turns into a top swimming and party spot, especially at Twin Falls. The trail itself follows the creek but can have some uphill action as it traverses the rolling terrain. Rock climbers and mountain bikers also take advantage of this area too.
For those seeking a challenging hike, choose River Place Nature Trail. This woody trail has gained attention for its fat-burning stairs. The stair incline makes for a great workout, and the creek and waterfall view make up for the physical challenge. Expect to hike over five miles round trip on this out-and-back trail in Austin.
The hike up Mount Bonnell is a short yet challenging hike up 106 stairs to an incredible overlook view of Austin. The walk to the top of Mountain Bonnell, which is Austin’s highest point, is short at 0.3 miles. Although it isn’t your typical hike, the stairs up Mount Bonnell is a popular walk. If you’d like to extend your hike past the stairs, you can walk on the trail to the right of the viewpoint for a short yet refreshing walk.
Currently, the Violet Crown Trail extends six miles. However this trail will become one of the longest trail systems in central Texas and extend for over 30 miles. Located in West Austin, the Violet Crown Trail passes through the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and also traverses some of the Barton Creek Greenbelt.
Near the Colorado River is the Mayfield Nature Preserve. This preserve is home to a gentle trail network. Spanning 24 acres, Mayfield Nature Preserve is a unique green space found in the Bat City. The peacocks that roam the grounds at Mayfield are one of the main draws to the preserve. Alternatively, soak in a view of Lake Austin here or browse the on-site art museum.
The Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail is an urban trail that is a 10-mile loop around the city’s popular Town Lake. Get great views of the city and the lake while walking or biking this popular city trail. There are plenty of places in the city to access the trail. However one of the most popular spots is at Lamar Boulevard, where you can walk through popular Austin parks like Auditorium Shores and Butler Park.