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25 Must-Do Hikes in Texas

You've got a lot of ground to cover.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Texas is a huge state and even though much of the terrain is the rugged desert landscape that you'd expect, you'll also 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 gems hidden up its sleeve. Whether you're looking for a remote, all-day trek or just 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

Photo: Korey Taylor

A 5.4-mile out-and-back hike with roughly 492 ft of elevation gain. 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

Photo: Andrew Slaton

A 3-mile out-and-back hike with about 360 ft of elevation gain. Experience both desert and more heavily vegetated areas on this lesser known hike in Big Bend.

3. Hike Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend

Photo: Sarah Vaughn

A 1.7-mile out-and-back hike with roughly 610 ft of elevation gain. This trail boasts breathtaking canyon views, shaded areas, and sandy banks of the Rio Grande.

4. Climb Guadalupe Peak

Photo: Tim Holland

An 8.5-mile out-and-back hike with about 2,867 ft of elevation gain. 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

Photo: Nick Tort

A 5.13-mile loop hike with an elevation gain of approximately 344 ft. 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

Photo: Kyle Obermann

A 3-mile out-and-back hike with roughly 50 ft of elevation gain. 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

Photo: Taylor Klugman

A 1.8-mile loop hike with an elevation gain of about 262 ft. 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 while there.

8. Hike the Window Trail in Big Bend

Photo: Chris Mongeau

A 4.4-mile out-and-back hike with approximately 500 ft of elevation gain. It’s one of the most popular hikes in Big Bend National Park for a reason. 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

Photo: Brooke Simmons

A 1.24-mile out-and-back hike with about 50 ft of elevation gain. 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

Photo: Korey Taylor

A 1-mile loop hike with very minimal elevation gain. 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

Photo: Warren Goh

An 8.5-mile out-and-back hike with roughly 2,401 ft of elevation gain. This is a well-marked trail that 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

Photo: Dan Casioppo

A 1.4-mile loop hike with approximately 26 ft of elevation gain. On this 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

Photo: Korey Taylor

A 2.75-mile loop hike with roughly 1000 ft of elevation gain. 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

Photo: Amanda Webb

A 7.69-mile out-and-back hike with about 500 ft of elevation gain. This 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

Photo: Andrew Miller

A 8.05-mile out-and-back hike with approximately 1,250 ft of elevation gain. 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

Photo: Amanda Webb

A 5.4-mile loop hike with roughly 365 ft of elevation gain. 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

Photo: Greg Christensen

A 5-mile out-and-back hike with about 600 ft of elevation gain. 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

Photo: Lauren Bonczek

A 2-mile out-and-back trail with approximately 170 ft of elevation gain. 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

Photo: Helen Yoon

A 1-mile out-and-back hike with about 115 ft of elevation gain. 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

Photo: Sarah Vaughn

A 4.4-mile loop hike with roughly 561 ft of elevation gain. 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

Photo: Sarah Vaughn

A 2.77-mile loop hike with about 938 ft of elevation gain. 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

Photo: Brooke Simmons

A 2.9-mile out-and-back hike with approximately 290 ft of elevation gain. 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

Photo: Dan Toups

A 2.44-mile loop hike with about 20 ft of elevation gain. 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

Photo: Erin Newman-Mitchell

A 3.23-mile out-and-back hike with roughly 141 ft of elevation gain. 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

Photo: Korey Taylor

A 1.44-mile out-and-back hike with about 249 ft of elevation gain. 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.

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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