Hiking around a big city like Austin, Texas is a little less appealing than going off into the wilderness somewhere like Yellow Stone. But, we don’t have the time in our busy lives to always be out on those wild trails and we have to look closer to home to get our time in nature consistently.
If you work and an office job, you know how important it is to try and connect with nature during your busy week to give you a sense of calm and peace. That’s why hiking trails around cities like Austin are so important and why we decided to write a handy guide of the Best Hikes In Austin. We hope you enjoy it.
The Barton Greenbelt Trail Hike is an easily accessible hike that is ideal for a long summers eve or for a good weekend hike with a picnic. It’s an easy hike that is suitable for all levels and it shouldn’t take you more than 5-6 hours to complete the 6.6 miles even going really slowly.
It’s an out and back trail, so you’ll retrace your footsteps home, that follows the beautiful Barton Creek for 3.3 miles down and 3.3 miles back. You can park your car or take public transport to the Barton Creek Parking Lot where the trail begins, and then slowly meander your way through the green belt. There is also a lovely waterfall to stop at on the way.
It’s a great hike for the family and you can bring your dog along too as long as it’s on a leash.
The Homestead hike is a fun one that’s not too long but is rated medium due to a little river crossing, so be sure to bring some shoes you don’t mind getting wet, Crocs are ideal.
The hike is just 3.1 miles long and takes only 1.5 hours, so it’s nothing major and a great hike to consider doing before or after work.
It’s located in the McKinney Falls State Park which costs $6 to enter unless you have a Texas State Park Pass, in which case it is free. You can park your car or get public transport to the Onion Creek Parking Lot where you start the hike.
The trail begins behind the Lower falls and this is where you’ll have to cross the river to keep going. You can either wade through above the falls or hop from rock to rock if the water levels are too high.
Once you’re over the waterfall, it’s a lovely little loop hike for the whole family and your dog (on a leash) around the state park and then back to cross the falls again.
The Bull Creek hike is another great route for the whole family that is rated as easy. It’s a simple 4.4-mile hike that should last around 2-3 hours depending on your speed. It’s open to all between August and February but you’ll have to have a permit to go in between March and July which is when the golden-cheeked warbler breeding season begins.
If you’re into your birds, you need to apply for a permit early which will be issued in January/February each year.
The trail follows a loop that takes you into some rocky terrain that makes it quite challenging along with some solid elevation changes. It’s not full of nature by any means and you can hear the traffic a bit, but it’s ideal for anyone wanting to get fit for their next hiking adventure.
To access the hike, park just off Winding Ridge Boulevard.
The Mount Lakeway Hike is a medium rated out and back hike that takes you through some diverse scenery. It runs through woods, shaded areas, rock outcrops, hilltops, and ridges.
It’s a 4.3-mile hike that should take around 3 hours but it could take you a bit longer due to the 921 ft elevation change. It’s a great hike if you’re looking for a challenge or to warm up those hiking muscles before a trip into the mountains somewhere.
There are loads of other routes to choose from along the way thanks to the frequent junctions but don’t stray off your chosen trail if you’re not confident you won’t get lost. This is also a dog-friendly trail where they don’t need to be on a leash.
To access this hike, go to Trophy Drive just next to the Serene Hills Elementary School. The trailhead starts there and you should be able to find parking nearby.
If you’re looking for a quick morning or evening hike, then the Walnut Creek Hike is a great option. It’s short, quick, easy, and in the beautiful Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park.
It’s a great hike for dogs, bikes, and of course walking. You’ll cross the Walnut Creek river, and it’s a great idea to hang out beside if for a picnic on the weekends. There are loads more interconnection routes, so you can make your own way and extend the hike to a lot longer if you want to.
The hike is open all year round but they do ask you to avoid it when it’s wet due to the damage done to the clay. Clay suffers from rain and adding shoes and bikes to the problem will only make the trail erode much faster.
The hike is just 1.3 miles long and can be done in under an hour. It’s great for the whole family and is well worth a visit. You can park at Walnut Creek Park Road parking lot and access the trail from there.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia
The Turkey Creek hike is a quick and easy 2.8-mile hike that shouldn’t take more than 1.5 hours. If it seems too short, don’t worry, there are some off trails that you can tag on to make it a bit longer for you.
You can hike the trail, fish around it, run it, or bike it. it’s also a dog-friendly area where they can roam free off their leash.
The hike is found in Emma Long Metropolitan Park the borders the Colorado River. The rail pretty much follows Turkey Creek, a tributary of the Colorado River, and is an out and back hike with a loop at the end.
There is some rocky terrain that makes the trail a good place to train, plus some nice climb on the loop section. It’s well signposted and hard to get lost, and the trail is in good condition.
The Lady Bird Lake Hike is found in Downtown Austin and is a great hike for a weekend, and you can shorten it if you’re trying to go before or after work. The hike follows the river all the way around, using a couple of bridges to connect itself.
The hike is 10 miles long on a paved path that has almost no incline. It suitable for wheelchairs and strollers, plus dogs can come along too on a leash. The route takes you through both Zilker and Roy G. Guerrero Park, both of which are great places to take a rest and chill out on the grass with a picnic.
The hike should take around 5 or 6 hours depending on your speed, and there are lots of chances to shorten it if you need to. You get great views of downtown and the lake on this hike and it doesn’t get too busy.
Start the hike at the lot next to Zach Theatres and head southwest towards Roy G. Guerrero Park to cross the North Pleasant Valley Road bridge where you’ll then walk on the other side of the river and cross again at Zilker Park to form your loop.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia
This Barton Creek Greenbelt hike is the longest hike in the review at 13.8 miles. It should take 8-10 hours to complete the hike, don’t let this put you off as there hike is easy in terms of elevation and there are plenty of spots to rest at along the way. Plus you can just turn back if you’re pushing yourself too far.
The hike begins at Zilker Park and follows Barton Creek in the green belt pretty much all the way to its finish. It is an out and back hike, so you’ll end up retracing your steps on the way home.
It’s a great hike to take your dog on and have a picnic on the way, as you’ll have to carry your lunch with you if you intend to do the whole thing. You can swim in the creek if the water looks right and hang out at the waterfalls for a peaceful rest.
Image courtesy of Shrie Bradford Spangler
If you’re looking for something a bit shorter than the hike above but still want to see some cool waterfalls, then the Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls Hike might be for you. It’s found in Barton Creek Greenbelt and follows part of the trail mentioned above.
You start this hike at Gains Park Parking Lot, and then it’s an easy 3.3 mile out and back hike along the creek. You can take your dog and a leash and it’s a lovely hike to do with the family.
Our advice is to go early to choose a top spot and take a great picnic along with you. This way you can spend some time by the river and make a whole day of it and maybe throw in a casual swim or two if the water looks good.
Don’t forget to get to the two waterfalls, Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls, both of which are lovely to see and hang out by.
The Riverplace Nature hike is found a little bit outside of Austin and follows its way around Riverplace Country Club. The best place to park, which is where the trail starts is at the Panther Hollow Creek Parking Lot, off Big View Drive.
There is a $10 dollar access fee per hiker and per dog, but children under 12 can go for free. The hike is 5.5 miles long and should take you 4 hours or less depending on your speed.
It’s a fun hike with quite a few stairs to climb that is well maintained with quite a lot of shade too. There are some nice views to be had and you follow Panther Hollow Creek almost the whole way.
The hike is rated as a medium due to the stair climbs, but it only has an 823 ft elevation change and so should be fine for most hiking abilities.