Looking for the best hiking trails in Texas? We’ve got you covered with plenty of scenic trails that will provide you with the perfect escape from the noise, buildings, and hustle and bustle of city life.
The landscapes of Texas are diverse, offering everything from vast expanses of desert to beaches and bayous. Texas is also home to Big Bend National Park which features some of the state’s most famous and popular trails.
For a state that usually brings to mind city skylines, Texas has a surprising number of excellent hiking opportunities both close to major cities and farther away. Whether you’re looking for a quick morning sweat before work or are hoping to spend an entire weekend backpacking, this list below has options for everyone.
The heat can be relentless while hiking in Texas in the hotter months so prepare accordingly with a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water, particularly on the more exposed trails. Keeping these precautions in mind, lace up your boots, take to the trails, and get ready to experience the fascinating wildlife and landscapes of Texas.
14 Scenic Trails For Hiking In Texas
Admire San Antonio From Above On The Tower Loop Trail
Nearly 5 miles of the best hiking trails in Texas can be found at Comanche Lookout Park in northeast San Antonio. Comanche Lookout Park is named for the Native Americans who once used the park’s hill as a prime vantage point for spotting Spanish and Mexican mule trains to raid.
Among the park’s popular trails is the Tower Loop Trail, a short .5 mile trail that allows you to access exceptional views of the city from up high. The climb up the hill is taxing but short and therefore very doable. Hiking in San Antonio doesn’t have to mean navigating concrete sidewalks and winding between buildings. This is the perfect opportunity to embrace the city in a different way.
The peak of this trail is the fourth highest point in Bexar County and is the perfect place to watch the sunset or just soak up the city below. After reaching the tower you can choose to keep your hike short or continue along Comanche Loop and Library Loop for a longer hike. It is truly one of the coolest castles in Texas you can visit!
Encounter Wildlife Along The River On The Rio Medina Trail
In the Medina River Natural Area, you’ll find some of the best hiking near San Antonio right along the river. The 12.6 mile Rio Medina Trail allows you to enjoy lush greenery, the tranquil flow of the river, ruins of an old farm, and an abundance of wildlife. Beyond that, you won’t have to compete with too many fellow adventurers to enjoy the views.
This hike is one of the best trails in Texas because it is suitable for a wide range of hikers. The frequent switchbacks and hills make for challenging sections that will get the blood pumping, but as you wander through meadows and follow the river in the shade of the trees you’ll have time to catch your breath as well. Much of the trail is paved making it easy to navigate.
Though this hike is still relatively crowd-free, prepare to share this beautiful natural environment with wildlife including deer and coyotes. We suggest bringing along bug spray as well to fend off the mosquitoes who are also hoping to join in on the fun.
Hike Within The City On Memorial Park’s Purple Trail
Memorial Park is home to some of the best trails in Texas that don’t require you to venture outside of the city. Houston brings to mind images of city buildings and concrete sidewalks, however hiking in Houston allows you to breathe some fresh air among the trees for a change. The park lies just outside of downtown Houston and features a whole collection of Bayou WildsTrails differentiated by color. This is also one of the best places for hiking in Houston!
We suggest taking a hike on the Purple Trail that loops around for just over two miles. Filled with trees that provide both shade and natural beauty, it’s the kind of hike that can be taken as an easy stroll allowing you to enjoy your brief time in this little haven within the city.
You’ll find the Purple Trail by the ball fields. Throughout your hike, you’ll pass sections of the Orange and Yellow Trails multiple times. Feel free to switch up your route at any point and explore one of the other trails. Be aware that these trails are also used for biking and running so keep an eye out as you walk along, especially in areas where the pathway narrows.
Dig Your Toes In The Sand At Galveston Island State Park
Are you in the mood for combining a relaxing beach day with a stroll along some of the best hiking trails in Texas? Some of the best hiking near Houston is just an hour away at Galveston Island State Park where dunes, marshes, and coastal life await you.
One of the best ways to explore the park is to combine four of the hiking trails into one for a 2.5-mile hike that allows you to thoroughly observe the park’s beauty and changing landscapes. We suggest beginning your hike at the Clapper Rail Trailhead then continuing across the water to the Heron’s Walk Trail and the Egret Loop. You’ll finish the hike with the Clapper Rail Loop and Caracara Trail.
Keep your eyes peeled for wading birds as you make your way along the trail. When you’re back at the trailhead, consider continuing your day at the state park with some fishing, kayaking, or perhaps some sandcastle building along the beach. It is truly one of the best beaches near Houston!
Enjoy Beautiful Lake Views From The North Shore Trail
The Grapevine Lake Trails offer some of the best hiking in Texas. They range from one-mile, paved trail strolls to 10+ mile treks on rough terrain. There’s certainly no shortage of trails to be found both marked and unmarked.
The North Shore Trail is one of these popular trails stretching for 10 miles from Rockledge Park to Twin Coves Park. This trail is popular for hikers but is also a preferred trail for mountain bikers and trail runners. If you’re hiking, keep an eye out for the bikers as they’ll be zipping around you.
You can reach the trail from Rockledge Park, Twin Coves Park, or Murrell Park. All except Murrell Park have an entrance fee.
The trail hugs the northern shore of Lake Grapevine offering you excellent lake views along the way. Feel free to tackle this hike in sections if you’re not up for the full 10-mile stretch.
Have A Family Picnic Along The Duck Pond Trail
Not all hiking in Texas has to be heart-pumping, long-distance exercise. For a casual day out with the family, we’d like to direct your attention to the Cedar Hill Trails in Cedar Hill State Park. An online reservation and a $7 per person entrance fee will get you into the park.
While Cedar Hill does have some more challenging trails, the Duck Pond Trail is easy, short, and kid-friendly! At just .8 miles, the Duck Pond Trail is an easy stroll through a forested area to a pond where you might just catch a glimpse of some ducks among other wildlife.
The trail is wide and easy to navigate with bridges helping you cross over the rougher areas. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy by the water before heading back to the parking lot.
If you’re in the mood to keep going, you can continue another .8 miles on the Plum Valley Trail to an overlook of the valley.
Immerse Yourself In History On The San Antonio Mission Trail
San Antonio’s most famous trail is arguably the San Antonio River Walk, a 15-mile trail system in the heart of the city. Eight of these miles belong to the San Antonio Mission Trail which connects all 5 of the city’s Spanish colonial missions (The Alamo, Mission San José, Mission Concepción, Mission San Juan Capistrano, and Mission Espada).
Hiking this trail is as much about immersing yourself in the history of the missions as it is stretching your legs. All of the missions, with the exception of The Alamo, are part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. You can visit the missions during park hours and we suggest taking a moment to catch the 20-minute historical video at the Visitor’s Center by Mission San José.
Surrounded by a healthy dose of trees and the San Antonio River flowing by, the San Antonio Mission Trail allows you to enjoy the beautiful natural scenery on one of the best hikes in Texas, while better acquainting yourself with the history of the state. This is also an incredibly popular area for biking if you’d rather trade in your walking legs for two wheels.
Get Your Morning Workout At The River Place Nature Preserve
The River Place Nature Preserve is one of the best places to hike in Texas if you’re looking for a blood-pumping weekday workout. This hike combines the Panther Hollow and Canyon Trails for a total of 6 miles out and back with 1,700 feet of elevation change and 2,736 built-in steps.
This Austin, Texas hike is extremely popular so we suggest attempting the workout on a weekday morning when entrance is free and the trails are less crowded. If you choose to hike on the weekend, prepare to pay a $10 entrance fee.
You’ll begin the hike at the south entrance by the boardwalk and retention pond. As we said, this hike is blood-pumping. You’ll pass small little waterfalls and a stream (more prominent after heavy rainfall) as you work your way along the wooded trail, but this hike is as much about the workout as it is the scenic views and natural beauty.
Wind Your Way Through The Forest On The Four C National Hiking Trail
The Four C National Hiking Trail is one of the best hikes in Texas for backpackers and long-distance hikers or trail runners. Located in the Davy Crockett National Forest, the hike takes you through stunning 100-foot pines as well as oak trees as you make your way from the Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area to the Neches Bluff Overlook. Keep your eye out for armadillos and deer along the way too.
This 20-mile trail is named for the Central Coal and Coke Company that once logged timber in the area. The hike can be completed in one day or broken up into a multi-day backpacking trip as part of a weekend getaway from the city. At mile 9.2 you’ll find the Walnut Creek Shelter which offers a limited number of campsites.
You should note that there is no potable water on the trail. It’s also 20 miles one way so if you’re not up for making the full out and back trip, plan your transportation situation accordingly.
Marvel At the Waterfall At The End Of Gorman Falls Trail
Texas is not known for its waterfalls, but the state can certainly take pride in Gorman Falls. The 70-foot waterfall is located in Colorado Bend State Park, one of the best Texas state parks for hiking. It is also home to one of the prettiest hidden gems in Texas!
The hike to the falls on the Gorman Falls Trail is 2.6 miles round trip. The trail isn’t too challenging until you start the descent towards the waterfall at which point you’ll be required to navigate through steep, rocky sections that have the potential to be slippery.
To see the falls in their most magical state, we suggest visiting in the late spring or summer when the trees surrounding the falls are lush and green. To preserve the delicate travertine built up around the falls you’ll be required to observe them from a viewing platform. This is the perfect spot to find some shade, rest your feet, and maybe enjoy a snack before heading back to the car.
Reach The Highest Point In Texas On The Guadalupe Peak Trail
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is not nearly as well known as Big Bend National Park, and yet it is home to the tallest point in Texas at 8,751 feet above sea level as well as one of the best hiking trails in Texas (albeit extremely challenging).
8.5 miles of relentless switchbacks and climbing on the Guadalupe Peak Trail will take you to the top where you’ll be met with stunning views of the Salt Basin Dunes, the Chihuahuan Desert, and The El Capitan Cliffs. This hike is as much about the views as it is the accomplishment of completing the hike.
The hike takes you through an array of landscapes including desert shrubbery and Ponderosa forests. It’s hot and it’s a hike that should only be tackled by avid hikers, but it’s certainly a landscape worth exploring and a challenge worth completing.
Make Your Way To A Towering Rock Formation On The Lighthouse Trail
Palo Duro Canyon is one of the best Texas State Parks for hiking, and the Lighthouse Trail is easily the park’s most popular trail. Nearly 6 miles of out and back hiking takes you to a spectacular, towering rock formation called the Lighthouse.
The hike is moderately difficult and alternates between flat ground and elevation gains. As you hike you’ll be able to see the 310-foot Lighthouse from afar before reaching its base.
Near the lighthouse, you’ll find benches to rest and enjoy the breathtaking views of Palo Duro Canyon. There’s no denying the payoff is worth the climb.
We highly suggest hiking this trail early in the morning to avoid the scorching midday heat and the crowds. It’s a popular sunset hike, however, so if you’re dying to capture a sunset photo, just be prepared to battle the crowds for that perfect shot.
Check The Popular South Rim Trail Off Your Bucket List
A trip full of hiking in Texas wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Big Bend National Park. The South Rim Trail is not only one of the most popular hikes in the park, it’s one of the most popular hikes in Texas. This 12.6-mile loop can be done as a 6-8 hour day hike or can be split up over two days (or more) as part of a backpacking trip.
You’ll begin the hike from near the Chisos Basin Visitor Center following signs for the Laguna Meadows Trail. Start early in the morning so you can take advantage of the morning shade along the Laguna Meadows Trail. This is mostly forested so your views on this section of the trail will be limited.
From here you’ll begin a gradual climb up to the South Rim Trail Viewpoint, switching to the Colima Trail (briefly) and the South Rim Trail along the way.
When you’re looking out at the mountains and canyons from the viewpoint, you’ll find that you forget just how tired you are from the hike up. It’s spectacular, to say the least. Follow the Boot Canyons Trail and Pinnacles Trail back to the car to complete the loop.
Get Your Fill Of Fall Foliage On The Lost Maples East Trail Loop
Hiking in Texas in the fall means enjoying the vibrant fall foliage on the Lost Maples East Trail Loop in the Lost Maples State Natural Area. This hike gets very popular in October and November when the maple trees change color. The park even gives foliage reports to ensure you can time your visit to see it in its full glory.
The East Trail Loop is 4.5 miles long. You’ll begin at the second of two parking lots at the very end of the park’s main road, and you’ll start along the East Trail or Maple Trail (which links up to the East Trail and gets you to the same place). Be prepared for a handful of river crossings on the East Trail.
The ascent to the top of the canyon is short but challenging making up less than a mile of your total hike. From the top, you’ll experience stunning views of Sabino Valley and the Texas Hill Country. Soak it all in before making your descent.
Towards the end of the hike, you’ll take the East-West Trail to the first of the two parking lots before finishing off the loop with a short walk to parking lot #2 where you began. It is one of the best places to see fall foliage in Texas!
We’re thrilled you’ve chosen to explore the deserts and forests of Texas by way of the state’s many worthwhile hiking trails. From national parks to state parks to community parks there’s beauty to be found in every location.
So pack your bags and stock up on sunscreen, because hiking in Texas is one of the best ways to explore the state and get an appreciation for the natural beauty it has to offer. If you have any questions or comments as you pick and choose from this collection of the best hiking trails in Texas, please let us known in the comments below.