Hiking in Texas

'Go take a hike!' Sound like an insult? To us it sounds like an excuse to get some fresh air and have a great time; and there's no place we'd rather do it than in Texas. Whether you're up for a relaxing afternoon stroll or a rugged multiple-day adventure, the Lone Star State has the perfect trail for you. Narrowing down our list of trails meant omitting many awesome adventures, but we think you'll like our selection. We'd be remiss if we didn't add a disclaimer, though: please note this list is categorized by distance, actual difficulty may vary due to altitude, incline, weather, and your level of experience. Always familiarize yourself with your route before setting out. Now, without further ado, here's our take on the Best Texas Hiking Trails.

 

Easy Hiking in Texas

Enchanted Rock 

 1.2 mi. (4 mi. loop)- This trail, located just outside of Fredericksburg, is one of the most popular in the area. It's crowning glory is a massive 500-ft.-high dome of pink rock, the second largest formation of this type on North America. The site also figures prominently in many Native American legends. Although the distance isn't that far, be aware that trek to the summit could be a bit challenging, depending on your fitness level. You can also hike the loop down into the canyon and return to the parking lot if you wish.

Kirby Trail 

 2.5 mi.- In the heart of the Big Thicket National Preserve, Kirby trail is a favorite place for elementary school field trips, but is fun for all ages and skill levels. Stop by the visitors center and study the exhibits before hitting the trail. Along the way you'll find interpretive signs about things you'll find as you explore. Much of the trail is wide and clear with bridges and plenty of spots to rest and enjoy the scenery.

Wichita Forest (Guided Nature Tour) 

 2.8 mi.- This gem of a nature preserve in the heart of Highland Village is a great adventure and learning experience for adults and kids alike. At the trailhead you will find a trail map indicating blue, yellow, and red trails, with corresponding trail markers within the park. Check out the more than 40 interpretive signs along the trail. Here you will find everything from open prairie to bottomland forest, both home to a wide variety of plants and animals. Admire the 'toothache tree', used by Native Americans to treat a variety of ills.

Davis Mountains State Park/Fort Davis National Historic Site, Skyline Drive Trail

4.5 mi.- Located high in the mountains of West Texas, this state park offers up a winning combination of beauty and history in one. Home to the ruins of a military outpost from the late 1800's, this state park was also one of the earliest Civilian Conservation Corps projects in Texas. The trail takes you up through rock formations and amazing views of the mountains. You can hike down into the fort if you'd like, or admire it from the trail.

Moderate Hiking in Texas

Caprock Canyons State Park, Upper Canyon Trail

6.5 mi.- Located about 90 miles from Lubbock, Caprock Canyon is home to the official bison herd of Texas and some of the most unique trail systems in the state. With about 30 miles of trails and a 64 mile trailway, you can hike to your heart's content. The Upper Canyon Trail is a loop hike that starts to close in after about a mile or so; take time to observe and photograph the red rock formations.

San Antonio Mission Tour 

8 mi- A trip to San Antonio wouldn't be complete without walking the Mission Trail, which links the city's four southernmost historic missions: Concepcion, San Jose, San Juan, and Espada. The Visitor Center is located in Mission San Jose and houses a museum and educational materials. The trail pathways are paved, so walking is easy; however, the trail isn't a loop, so the round trip is 16 miles. An option is to start at one of the four missions and walk to the next, making the round trip six miles.

Guadalupe Mountains State Park, Guadalupe Peak 

8.4 mi.- This pristine park is located about 100 miles from El Paso and is home to the premier fossil reef from the Permian era. Guadalupe Peak is the 'high point' of this state park for a reason; not only is it the highest point in the park, but also in all of Texas. You'll pass through the forest and cross a meadow before being welcomed by the bare mountainside. Be prepared for the next few switchbacks, as the peak is still a ways off, however. Your reward will be the stunning views and snapping a picture at the metal pyramid at the summit.

Ray Roberts Lake State Park, Johnson Branch Unit 

9.6 mi.-This gorgeous state park is just an hour north of the Dallas/Fort Worth area and features the 29,000 acre Ray Roberts Lake, a favorite of swimmers and boaters alike. As the trail winds through the park, be on the lookout for beavers, plain pocket gophers, minks, raccoons, turtles, great horned owls and more. A stop at the visitors center is recommended before you head out.  Afterwards, a refreshing lake swim and shower are in order.

​Difficult Hiking in Texas

South Rim

12.5 mi.-About 70 miles from Marathon, nestled in the Big Bend National Park, this trail is likely the most famous hike in Texas, and for good reason; it is simply spectacular. As the trail climbs the edge of the Chisos Mountains, the views of the Sierra Quemada badlands, the Rio Grande, and even Mexico cannot be matched. Unique vegetation and abundant wildlife surround you. Be aware that you may have to take a detour during peregrine falcon breeding season.

Lost Maples

13 mi.- Just outside Vanderpool you'll find some of the best fall foliage viewing in the state at the Lost Maples State Natural Area. Pecan, American Sycamore, Texas Red Oak, Bigtooth Maple, and more put on a vibrant display of color, which usually peaks in late October/early November. If you can't make it then, the trail makes a great hike year-round. For the most part, the trails follow the Sabinal River and the abundant trees provide shade; that is, until you emerge at a wonderful panoramic view of the sights below. The descent leads to a waterfall and a swimming hole.  As this is a popular area, trails can be crowded at peak foliage viewing times.

Trinity River Trail

16 mi.- Fort Worth is home to the Trinity River Trail System, a spider web-like network of urban paths throughout the city and its suburbs. This trail is ideal for those who don't wish to venture far into the wilderness, but seasoned dirt-trail backpackers will enjoy it, as well. Dotted with misting stations, parks, benches, tree groves, and river crossings, there are plenty of creature comforts. The trail is multi-use, so cyclists, dog-walkers, inline skaters and others will accompany you.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Bush Mountain Loop

17 mi.- Another Guadalupe Mountains trail on our list, we couldn't pass this one up. Boasting the longest stretch of Texas trail above 8,000 feet, this trek is not for newbies; the ascent combined with the altitude make for a difficult hike. If you're up for it, though, the views are mind-blowing.

​Strenuous Hiking in Texas

Lake Mineral Wells State Trailway

- 20 mi.- Just 45 minutes from Fort Worth, this multi-use trail is located within the state park of the same name. Each of the four trailheads has potable water, parking, restrooms, and trail information. As the trail is located on top of a railroad bed, the curves are gentle and the grades are quite flat. You'll enjoy crossing over the 500-foot railroad bridge adorned with104 Lone Stars, a highlight of your trek. Expect to see white-tailed deer, foxes, raccoons, and more, as well as many species of birds.

Lake Georgetown Good Water Trail 

24 mi.- Located near Georgetown, the lake, trail, and other recreational facilities are managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Although it is one of the longer trails in the Hillcountry, it tends to be overlooked. The trail loops around Lake Georgetown, which was formed to provide flood control for the Georgetown community. A plus is the availability of potable water and the variety of terrain and scenery. Camping, fishing, and boating are also very popular.

Lone Star Hiking Trail 

27 mi.- Located about 50 miles from Houston within the Sam Houston National Forest, this trail runs a total of 129 miles and is the longest hiking trail in the Texas. It is split into three sections; the 27 mile stretch we refer to here has been designated a National Recreational Trail. Terrain is mainly flat with some wet areas and bridges facilitate river crossings. The trail is clearly marked, well-maintained, and wildlife is abundant along the way. Be on the lookout for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker that is often spotted here.

Four C Trail

20 mi. (one way)-The Davy Crockett National Forest hosts part of this trail which is named after the Central Coal and Coke Company that once logged the area. The trail follows several of the now defunct company's logging trams. Although the trek is long, elevation changes are minor, trails are well-marked and maintained, and bridges are fairly common where needed. A highlight is the view from the Neches Bluff Overlook. Make sure to carry or cache enough water, as the water along the trail is not safe to drink due to heavy metals.

We hope you enjoyed our spin on the Best Texas Hiking Trails. As you can see, The Lone Star State has something for every hiking enthusiast in your life. Remember, regardless of which route you choose, make safety your priority out there. Now, grab your water, your boots, your sense of adventure, and we'll see you on the trail!

Article Edited/Contributed by: John C. Derrick
Published/Updated:

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