One of the best things about Austin is the vast amount of green spaces that make up much of the landscape, and some people would argue that some of the best nature in Texas can be found in Austin, which means that it’s definitely an attractive prospect for those who are looking to explore this beautiful city by hiking.
While Austin is known mainly for its government buildings, music scene, as well as it’s a particularly rowdy nightlife scene too, there is so much more to it than that, and for those who are looking to get away from the rowdiness and the noise, then why not try exploring some of the gorgeous Southern scenery.
The hikes that we have included in our list will provide you with a look at every aspect of the Southern landscape you could imagine, with everything from tranquil lakes to limestone cliffs, as well as difficult climbs, and gentle river walks too.
All of the trails are super accessible too, with many of them being found just 30 minutes outside of the downtown area too.
This list also arguably contains one of the most beautiful spots in the entire state, so keep reading on to learn everything you need to know about these trails, including their difficulty, length, the wildlife you can see on the way, and more too.
So what are you waiting for? Keep reading on to find out more about the most beautiful trails in Austin.
Best Trails In Austin
1. Lady Bird Lake Hike And Bike Trail
With a length of 2.5 miles, and an elevation gain of 42.7 feet, this trail makes up a portion of the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, which is probably one of the most popular trails in all of Austin.
As you might have guessed from the name of this trail, it runs right alongside Lady Bird Lake, as well as the Colorado River, which means that it provides you with plenty of luscious greenery, accessible facilities, and even some great viewpoints of the city too, and it’s really close to Downtown too.
The trail consists entirely of a smooth paved path, which means that it’s super easy to traverse, and is also great for dog-walking, biking, and of course, hiking!
Plus, there are a load of ways that you can customize the length of your hike, with turn-off and bridges found scattered along the trail.
2. Ann And Roy Butler Hike And Bike Trail
If doing just a section of the trail wasn’t enough, then why not do the full 10 miles! The elevation gain is exactly the same as the initial section was too.
This trail is one of the best representations of Austin as a whole, and provides a perfect glimpse in the natural and scenic beauty of this scenic state.
As we mentioned previously, this trail is one of the most visited trails in the entirety of Austin, so you’ll definitely see a wide range of people as you make your way across the length of the trail.
As you traverse this trail, you’ll get to see Austin’s amazing skyline, numerous tourist attractions, as well as plenty of charming neighbourhoods too. So, for an easy trail not far from the downtown area, check this trail out!
3. Walnut Creek Trail
If you’re not a fan of particularly long trails, then this trail is most certainly going to appeal to you, with a length of 1.3 miles and an elevation gain of 62.3 feet, this trail goes in a loop and is a great way of exploring some of Austin’s natural beauty without having to complete a massive trail, as this one is completely suitable for all different skill levels.
You can also make this trail, even more, relaxing by enjoying some sunbathing next to the creek too, and it’s suitable for everyone to enjoy the water, including your children, and you can watch them from the comfort of the shore too.
The reason why this trail is so immensely popular with locals and tourists alike is that it’s a simple 15 minute drive from the center of the city, and there are even some playgrounds to be found on the hike too, as well as public toilets, and picnic spots too!
It’s worth noting that the trail is known to become slightly muddy if it’s rained recently, so keep this in mind when deciding upon your clothing and footwear choices ahead of your hike.
4. Secret Beach And Roy Guerrero Trail
If we said to you that there was a landlocked beach that you could explore just a mere 15 minutes from the center of Austin, you would probably think we were lying, as it definitely sounds too good to be true, but this Southern gem is certainly real, and is a well kept secret amongst many of Austin’s locals.
The hike is predominantly flat, and is 3.3 miles long, so it’s not a particularly strenuous hike either, and much of it is under shade too.
There’s also a great little trek right next to the beach too, which leads you right alongside the Colorado river and is a popular spot for letting dogs cool off in the water.
There’s plenty of wildlife to spot on this hike, including white-tailed deer, and there’s more to be seen when you transition to the Roy Guerrero trail too, which can be used for biking and jogging as well as hiking!
5. Mayfield Park Lake Trail
If you’re looking for an incredibly low effort trail, then look no further than Mayfield Park, which provides arguably one of the most accessible trails in the entire city, with a length of 0.3 miles, and an elevation gain of just 26.2 feet, this mini loop is the perfect way to get a brisk walk in the fresh air.
Mayfield Park is also known as a popular spot for bird watching too, with plenty of free-roaming peacocks calling this park their home.
For the history buffs, there’s also the opportunity to take a glance at the Mayfield-Gutsch Estate, which was a home that was initially built in the 1870s, and was then purchased in 1909 by one of the former Texas secretaries of state, Allison Mayfield.
This house is also connected to the Laguna Gloria Art Museum, which is famous for its incredible sculpture garden.
So, being located just a short 10 minutes away from the center of the city, Mayfield Park is definitely a great place to visit for those who aren’t fond of difficult hikes and trails!
6. Mount Bonnell Trail
If you’re slightly short of time during your visit to Austin, then you’ll want to find a trail that allows you to experience the natural beauty of Austin without taking too much of your day. Thankfully, the Mount Bonnell trail is the perfect way to do this!
The incredible vistas provide hikers with some of the best views in the area, and at 0.5 miles long, and with an elevation gain of 780.8 feet, it’ll only take you around 20 minutes to reach the top, where you’ll be able to get an incredible view of both the city and the Colorado river.
The trail is only a short drive from the city too, so you can do it all in a few hours and continue on with your adventure in Austin!
7. St. Edwards Green And Red Loop
For a trail that truly places you right into the picturesque scenery of Austin, then the St. Edwards Green and Red Loop is a great dive into the Southern Wilderness, yet you’re still only a 20 minute drive out the bustle of the city.
This trail has everything across its 2.7 miles, including creeks that need crossing, a decent elevation change (with a gain of 347.8 feet), and even some rocky scrambles along the way. So this loop is great for beginners who eventually want to work their way up to bigger hikes.
It is worth making sure you bring your phone with you fully charged, or with an up to date map of the area, as the signage on this trail can be pretty poor, which makes navigating it slightly difficult!
8. Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail
Just a short 10 minute drive from Downtown Austin is Barton Creek Greenbelt, and when you arrive, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to an entirely different place altogether, with nature surrounding you everywhere you look.
This trail is aimed towards those who are seeking a challenge from their hike, coming in at 13.8 miles long, and with a decent amount of elevation changes throughout the trail too, so it’s most certainly going to provide you with a decent workout.
There are plenty of rest stops along the way though, and whilst you’re catching your breath, you can begin to take in some of the natural beauty that can be seen on this trail, and you can even rest your feet in the gorgeous creek too!
If you’re planning to visit here, it’s best to go on a weekday, or as early in the morning as possible, as this trail is a popular one, and can become quite busy.
9. Turkey Creek Trail
Found within the expanses of the Emma Long Metropolitan Park is Turkey Creek Trail, a 2.8 mile trail known for its out-and-back hike that is perfect for hikers, joggers, and mountain bikers who are looking for a more difficult trail to traverse.
Much of the trail is under shade, which makes it perfect for the summer months, and the water crossings found throughout the trail are also perfect for cooling down in too, which makes it popular for dog walkers too, as the combination of the forest and the creek means that your furry friends will be able to have a lot of fun.
A visit during the week is best, as this trail is a popular spot on the weekends!
10. Homestead Trail
If challenging trails are your thing, then Homestead Trail, which is located within the gorgeous McKinney State Falls Park is the perfect way to get out there and attempt to traverse one of the more difficult loop trails close to Austin.
Despite what you might think though, this trail is within the city limits, and can be reached within 15 minutes from the downtown area.
History is ripe throughout this trail, with ancient rock formations and amazing creeks that provides you with a landscape that makes you feel like you’ve been teleported thousands of years into the past.
If you’re planning on visiting the trail, then set aside a full day to explore everything the state park has to offer, and you’ll be rewarded with glorious flowers, wildlife, and even waterfalls!
11. Lake Austin And 360 Bridge Overlook
If you want a trail that is going to provide you with the perfect pics for your Instagram, then look no further than this amazing trail.
Closely following alongside the Colorado River, this trail takes you right up to the perfect viewpoint of the Pennybacker Bridge, where you’ll be able to take plenty of scenic photos for your feed.
Bring a picnic along and enjoy being surrounded by the amazing landscape which provides the perfect backdrop for this trail. Like some of the other trails, the earlier you start the better, as it’s quite popular, so it can get busy during peak times!
12. Hamilton Pool Park Trail
In order to reach the fairytale-esque scenery of Hamilton Pool Preserve, you will need to make the 45 minute venture out of the city, but as soon as you arrive, you’ll realize that this journey was most certainly worth the effort, as many people claim that this is their favorite trail spot in the entire state!
With the perfect amount of greenery, as well as limestone bluffs, and amazing turquoise waters, it really will seem like you’re dreaming.
Good footwear is required though, as the path to the pool is rocky and steep, and can sometimes be slippery too, so it might not be best for beginners either.
There are a number of different hikes for you to explore and discover within the expanse of this preserve, so make sure you have everything you need and spend the day exploring.
13. Laurel, Yaupon, Possum, And Arroyo Vista Loop
For those who want a pleasant immersion into nature without leaving Austin too far behind, then this trail is certainly worth a visit, as it’s only located 15 minutes away from the center of the city, and is filled with beautiful creeks, as well as a small waterfall too, and the shade makes walking here nice even on the hottest of days.
Whether you want to walk the whole loop, which would take around an hour, or bring a picnic with you and spend the afternoon here is up to you, but we’re sure you’ll enjoy it either way. Unfortunately, pets aren’t allowed here, but you can still bring the kids with you!
14. Bull Creek Trail
Located somewhere between 15 to 20 minutes outside of Austin, Bull Creek’s trail certainly has a more secluded feel than some of the other trails on this list, and the vast differences in the terrain you’ll encounter on your hike here can make it quite difficult to traverse at times, so this is definitely not a trail to consider doing if you’re not already an avid hiker.
There’s also no mountain biking here, which does make it slightly safer for those enjoying a walk around the stunning trail. The trail is open to the public between August and February, so make sure you visit if you get the chance!
15. River Place Nature Trail
Although the drive to this trail is slightly longer than most, the scenery you’ll get to witness on your drive down to this natural reserve is absolutely worth it, and you’ll soon be wanting to spend another 30 minutes just admiring it.
However, what awaits you is one of the most challenging hikes in the area, with frequent elevation changes, which makes this trail perfect for those who are looking to get a true workout out of their hike.
There’s also something of a cost to visiting this trail, and that’s the 2,673 stairs you’ll need to traverse! Ultimately though this trail is worth visiting if you’re capable of taking it on, but it’s best to visit on weekdays when the crowds are quieter!
As you can see, Austin is fortunate to have so many beautiful trails in the surrounding area, ranging from incredibly easy, to incredibly difficult, so everyone can get a chance to explore the gorgeous wildlife that lies outside of the city. We hope this guide helps, enjoy!
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