Fall is the perfect time to get out and explore, and what better way than with a scenic hike. And, no matter what corner of Texas you hail from (or if you’re smack dab in the middle), there are some great trails to hike near you. Here are some of our favorites. Who knows? You might discover your new favorite spot, right in your own backyard. Get ready by checking out the great tips in two new books (below)—Families on Foot and Walks of a Lifetime—they’ll inspire you and your family to enjoy the great outdoors.
Caprock Canyon State Park & Trailway – Quitaque
Up at the top of Texas, this park has been called a “hiking paradise.” Just outside of Amarillo, this gem has over 90 miles of trails to hike or bike. Each trail has its own difficulty level, so whether you’re an inexperienced hiker looking for something easy and scenic (check out the Mesa Trail) or you’re a veteran hiker looking for a new, challenging hike (try Haynes Ridge Overlook Trail), there is a trail for you. Trails at Caprock Canyon vary from as short as 1 mile to as long as 15 miles.
Sunset Lake Park – Portland
If you’re on the southern tip of Texas, right along the Gulf of Mexico, then Sunset Lake Park may just be the spot for you. Located between the shores of Nueces Bay and Corpus Christi Bay, this two-mile trail is perfect for hiking or biking, and was constructed on an old roadway. The landscape is a diverse marshland. Birding is popular here as the park is on the Texas Coastal Birding Trail. If you prefer water recreation, you can fish, swim, canoe, kayak or sail in this remarkably scenic haven.
Davis Mountains State Park – Fort Davis
This historic beauty is known for its tranquility and serenity, so you might want to leave the kids at home for this one! This historic park offers a variety of mountain trails. We love the Skyline Drive Trail, which follows the ridges and valleys of the landscape for 4.5 miles. The park also is home to the “best little bird blind in Texas.” If you’re up for a late-night adventure, make sure to park yourself with a blanket somewhere and marvel at the night sky. There is very little light pollution here, so you can see everything. Then stay the night at one of the campsites. (Indian Lodge, a great historic 39-room motel in the park, remains closed for renovations through June 2018.)
Martin Dies, Jr. State Park – Jasper
If you hail from the eastern corners of Texas, then Martin Dies, Jr. State Park may just become your new hiking spot. While hiking through mountains provides great views and an even better workout, there’s something majestic about taking a hike through a heavily wooded area. The forest buzzes with life, and you can imagine yourself as world-class adventurer, as if you were a child again. Done with your hike? The rich ecosystem offers a variety of other activities; fishing, boating, paddling, stargazing, swimming and birding are all great options to keep you out and enjoying nature just a little bit longer.
River Place Nature Trail – Austin
This is a local favorite in Austin. There are three trails; Fern Trail, The Canyons Trail, and Panthers Hollow Trail. Fern Trail starts at River Place Blvd, and has many small waterfalls and ferns (hence the name) along the path. The Canyons Trail starts at the end of Fern Trail, and continues along the side of the River Place Country Club golf course. Aside from the views of the course, there are many more bodies of water and waterfalls along this path. Finally, Panthers Hollow Trail starts at the end of The Canyons Trail and ends back at River Place Blvd. This trail has the largest elevation change in Austin, and is a great place to train for larger, steeper hikes. The great thing about River Place Nature Trail is that you can hike all three trails in a row. It’s a rigorous 5.5 mile hike, but you end up right back where you started.
Hiking is a great way to get exercise, enjoy nature, and have fun at the same time. Whether you go with friends, with family, or solo, it’s always an adventure. What are some of your favorite hiking spots? Share your favorites and any hiking tips in the comments below.
For families looking to #ExploreTX this fall, why not read ahead for helpful tips? Published in partnership with the American Hiking Society, Families on Foot offers practical advice and engaging activities to make hiking even more fun. You’ll find clever ideas and inspiration that apply to kids of all ages—from tackling diaper blowouts in the backcountry to using smartphone apps and GPS to engage teenagers with nature. Information for children with special needs and seniors is also included. Author Jennifer Pharr Davis is the former record holder of the fastest thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.
Inspired to venture further afield than Texas? Veteran outdoor enthusiasts Robert and Martha Manning invite readers to experience the joy of walking in Walks of a Lifetime. They offer firsthand descriptions of 30 of the world’s great long-distance trails and multi-day walks, including personal anecdotes, natural and cultural history, practical tips, and full-color photographs and maps. Walks range from inn-to-inn routes to backpacking treks and are found across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.