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25 Must-do hikes in Texas

You've got a lot of ground to cover on Texas hikes!

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Texas is a vast state, and even though much of the terrain is the rugged desert you'd expect, you may be surprised at the diversity you'll find on the trail. From lush swimming holes to wildflower meadows and epic summit views, the Lone Star State has a few hidden gems. Whether you're looking for a remote, all-day trek, or a quick escape close to town, everyone can find something that satisfies their hiking needs on this list. 

1. Hike to the Lighthouse in Palo Duro Canyon

A tall red rock tower is at the end of a rock walkway looking out over a rocky valley.
Photo: Korey Taylor

Distance: 5.88 miles
Elevation: 492 feet
Elevation: out-and-back

For a small entrance fee ($5 per person, free for children), you’ll have access to incredible geological formations and spectacular canyon views– makes for amazing photo opportunities!

2. Hike to Cattail Falls

A rocky valley valley with mountains in the background.
Photo: Andrew Slaton

Distance: 3 miles
Elevation: 360 feet
Type: out-and-back
 Experience both desert and more heavily vegetated areas on this lesser known hike in Big Bend.

3. Hike Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend

A green river flows through tall rocky cliff walls.
Photo: Sarah Vaughn

Distance: 1.66 miles
Elevation: 610 feet
Type: out-and-back

This Texas hike boasts breathtaking canyon views, shaded areas, and sandy banks of the Rio Grande.

4. Climb Guadalupe Peak

A tree-covered mountains overlooks a misty valley.
Photo: Tim Holland

Distance: 8.15 miles
Elevation: 2,867 feet
Type: out-and-back

Climb to the highest peak in Texas! You’ll take in sweeping views of El Capitan and the surrounding mountainous terrain that rises out of the desert.

5. Hike to Enchanted Rock

A tall, tan rock face is dotted with scrubby greenery. There's a valley in the background to the left of the rocks.
Photo: Nick Tort

Distance: 5.13 miles
Elevation: 344 feet
Type: loop

The 360-degree views of Texas Hill Country are absolutely worth it. Expect to see small boulder fields, wide open spaces, and lush desert vegetation. Stay for sunset if you can – it’s usually gorgeous.

6. Hike the Gypsum Sand Dunes, Guadalupe Mountains NP

A person is standing on a sandy Texas hike with mountains far off in the distance. The sun is setting or rising and the sky is mostly navy blue with stars. There is orange and pink light coming up over the mountain.
Photo: Kyle Obermann

Distance: 3.01 miles
Elevation: 50 feet
Type: out-and-back

This hidden gem of Guadalupe Mountains National Park boasts incredible vistas of Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan.

7. Hike through the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve

There is a small waterfall in the distance and it flows toward the camera through greenery.
Photo: Taylor Klugman

Distance: 1.8 miles
Elevation: 262 feet
Type: loop

This preserve is teeming with life and offers many acres of hill country and woodlands. Check out the Creative Research Center run by St. Edward's University after this Texas hike.

8. Hike the Window Trail in Big Bend

A person is wearing a yellow backpack and walking away from the camera on a Texas hike. They're holding a walking stick and there are cacti on the right side of the image. Rocky red mountains cover the background.
Photo: Chris Mongeau

Distance: 4.21 miles
Elevation: 500 feet
Type: out-and-back

This is one of the most popular Texas hikes, and Big Bend National Park routes. You’ll consume panoramic canyon views overlooking the desert into Mexico as well as the mountains of the Chisos Basin.

9. Hike through St. Edwards Park

A person is soaking on a pool on a Texas hike. The water is reflecting the green plants around the edge and a rock formation with horizontal striations covers the right shoreline.
Photo: Brooke Simmons

Distance: 1.24 miles
Elevation: little-to-none
Type: out-and-back

Expect to see beautiful views, open meadows, a small swimming hole with a rope swing, prairie grass, and cacti.

10. Hike to the Boquillas Hot Springs

A person is floating in water surrounded by grassy shores. They are lying horizontally with their bare feet toward the camera. It's early or late, with blue and pink skies.
Photo: Korey Taylor

Distance: 1 mile 
Elevation: little-to-none
Type: loop

This trail will lead you to a geothermal hot spring right on the beautiful Rio Grande River. Get in a relaxing soak after a long day of hiking at Big Bend. Look for ancient pictographs on the canyon walls on your way to the springs.

11. Hike Big Bend’s Emory Peak

The view from a Texas hike that leads to mountains with peaks as far as the camera can capture.
Photo: Warren Goh

Distance: 9.44 miles
Elevation: 2,401 feet
Type: out-and-back

This well-marked Texas hike features incredible vistas on the way to the top and natural hot springs. At the peak, you’ll be rewarded with 360 degree views of Big Bend National Park.

12. Hike among the Gators in Brazos Bend

A large crocodile is looking at the camera with it's mouth open while half in some water and half on a marshy section of land.
Photo: Dan Casioppo

Distance: 1.4 miles
Elevation: 26 feet
Type: loop

On this Texas hike, you’ll have the chance to view American Alligators up close as well as over 300 different species of wildlife at Brazos Bend.

13. Hike to West Peak

A person in a white top and black pants is seated on a rocky cliff overlooking a desert valley.
Photo: Korey Taylor

Distance: 2.4 miles
Elevation: 1,000 feet
Type: loop

Though there’s a $5 entrance fee, you’ll be rewarded with stunning, panoramic views of Texas Hill Country and it’s rocky terrain.

14. Hike to Crockett Gardens and Falls

A short, wide waterfall flows into a calm water pool that appears green as it reflects the trees on the shoreline.
Photo: Amanda Webb

Distance: 7.69 miles
Elevation: little-to-none
Type: out-and-back

This Texas hike is a scenic trail situated around the cliffs of Lake Georgetown. You’ll see natural springs feeding into several smaller waterfalls along the way. Around mile 3 expect to see remnants of an old homestead.

15. Hike to the Upper Guale Mesa in Big Bend Ranch State Park

A person in a tank top and shorts is walking away from the camera into a grassy field on a Texas hike. There are mountains and blue skies in the distance.
Photo: Andrew Miller

Distance: 8.05 miles
Elevation: 1,250 feet
Type: out-and-back

This Big Bend trail offers scenic 360 degree views of the wild, rugged high desert terrain. Do this hike at night (with the right preparation) for incredible star gazing as it’s rated one of the top 5 darkest regions in the country.

16. Hike through Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area

A field of purple flowers.
Photo: Amanda Webb

Distance: 5.4 miles
Elevation: 365 feet
Type: loop

Just outside of Austin, Texas, this hike will give you the rare opportunity to walk through fields of beautiful blue bonnets, the Texas state flower, right above the banks of the Colorado River– a true natural oasis.

17. Hike Palo Duro Canyon’s Rock Garden Trail

Rocky, flat, wide cliffs rise above a valley dotted with desert and green scrubby trees.
Photo: Greg Christensen

Distance: 4.98 miles
Elevation: 600 feet
Type: out-and-back

Though a challenging hike, it’s certainly rewarding as it offers magnificent canyon views. Expect to see some patches of sand sage, prickly pear cacti, and Rocky Mountain juniper.

18. Hike Cedar Flats Trail at Eisenhower Park

Dark green trees fill the bottom half of this image. The top is light blue sky fading into pink over dark, widespread mountains.
Photo: Lauren Bonczek

Distance: 2 miles
Elevation: 170 feet
Type: out-and-back

Visit at dusk to watch the sunset over the beautiful San Antonio skyline while relaxing on the observation deck.

19. Hike the Closed Canyon Trail in Big Bend Ranch SP

A young kid in a blue bucket hat and lime green backpack is walking on sand among tall rock walls.
Photo: Helen Yoon

Distance: 1.36 mile
Elevation: 115 feet
Type: out-and-back

This hike leads you through a slot canyon in Big Bend Ranch State Park. It’s a mostly flat hike with some bigger rocks here and there.

20. Hike the East Trail at Lost Maples

A dirt-strewn slope is covered in sunlight. Autumnal trees dot the hill.
Photo: Sarah Vaughn

Distance: 4.4 miles
Elevation: 561 feet
Type: loop

Tucked away in Hill Country, the Lost Maples State Natural Area is the perfect place to view vibrant Fall foliage in Texas as it’s brimming with magnificent maple trees. And yes… beautiful Fall foliage does exist in Texas!

21. Summit Old Baldy, Garner State Park

A river runs through a grassy field with shrubby trees.
Photo: Sarah Vaughn

Distance: 2.77 miles
Elevation: 938 feet
Type: loop

Garner State Park offers plenty of miles of scenic trails as well as access to the Frio River. The trails are known for their noteworthy vistas, lush greenery, and rolling hills.

22. Hike Pine Ridge Overlook

A shallow lake is surrounded by green trees with blue sky and puffy white clouds.
Photo: Brooke Simmons

Distance: 2.95 miles
Elevation: 290 feet
Type: out-and-back

The park itself is well-marked and boasts scenic overlooks as well as access to the Colorado River. This trail is one of the longest hikes at the Nature Area featuring piney woods, valleys, and sights of the river.

23. Hike through the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve

A Texas hike trail through scattered tall trees. The light is yellow and green.
Photo: Dan Toups

Distance: 2.44 miles
Elevation: 20 feet
Type: loop

The Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is an incredible outdoor oasis right in the middle of a busy city. Expect to immerse yourself in wide open fields with plenty of flowers. There are hiking trails, a single-track mountain bike loop, and an abundance of wildlife. The preserve is also conveniently located near shops, restaurants, and breweries for a post-hike meal or drink.

24. Hike Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls via Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail

Autumnal trees line the side of a wide, short water fall that flows into whitewater in a teal pool.
Photo: Erin Newman-Mitchell

Distance: 3.23 miles
Elevation: 141 feet
Type: out-and-back

This is a popular hike right through the rolling hills of Austin. It features two gorgeous waterfalls, which also make for great swimming holes.

25. Hike to Penitentiary Hollow via Red Waterfront Trail

A person stands among three tall trees on a trail lined by tall rocky walls.
Photo: Korey Taylor

Distance: 1.44 miles
Elevation: 249 feet
Type: out-and-back

This trail is situated by the Eastern shore of the stunning Lake Mineral Wells. On this unique hike, you’ll delight in great waterfront views and find four huge Elm trees rising from the rocky canyon floor at Penitentiary Hollow.

For more Texas hike stories, check out:
10 Must-do adventures near Austin, Texas 
72 Hours of adventures in Dallas, Texas
The top 8 adventures in Big Bend National Park

Cover photo: Kyle Obermann

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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