According to The New York Times and a study in the journal Scientific Reports, spending 120 minutes per week in the great, wide outdoors can give you an increased sense of well-being and helps you maximize the benefits of spending time in nature.
With an adventurous spirit, we’ve collected a list of some of our very favorite hiking spots in the boundless Lone Star State, complete with a handy-dandy difficulty rating system (so you know which paths are good for the entire family, and which ones might be better for a solo trip with Rufus).
So, if you’re a Texas-native, lace up your hiking boots, venture out past your city limits, and go enjoy all the natural beauty our state offers. See you on the trail!
🥾-Difficulty rating ranges from 1 hiking boot (100% family-friendly) to 4 hiking boots (a challenge awaits!)
South Rim Trail
Get ready for a challenge! The South Rim trail at Big Bend National Park is a 12.6 mile doozy, but if you’re up for some inclines and expansive views of west Texas and humbling rock formations, this may be the trail for you. If you want to hike the whole trail, plan on setting aside most of your day, and stock up your day-pack with plenty of water and some scrumptious snacks to keep some fuel in your tank.
Head 30 miles west of Austin, and you’ll find yourself in Spicewood, TX, and in for a huge treat for the whole family. Surrounded by towering Cypress trees, Krause Springs is a 68 degree spring-fed oasis at the end of a short kid-friendly hike, complete with magical waterfalls and ropes to swing from into the cool waters. The hike to the swimming hole can be a little slippery, so wear shoes with solid tread!
There’s not an actuallighthouse at the end of this trail, but rather an impressive geological rock formation that strikingly resembles the traditional buildings that guide ships away from the shore. To see it in person, take a trip to Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, TX! The total hike is 5.4 miles round-trip, and it’s recommended that you bring along plenty of water to keep you hydrated in the Texas heat. Even better, plan your trip for the early morning hours to avoid not only scorching temperatures, but the mass of tourists that can be found closer to sunset.
Caprock Canyons Trailway
This hike is not recommended for the faint of heart! The Caprock Canyons Trailway is a full-day excursion and can be anywhere from 5 to 12 miles one way, depending on how adventurous you’re feeling. The trail crosses 46 bridges, and passes through one of the last active railroad tunnels in Texas! Cell service is limited once you set off, and it’s recommended you don’t travel alone and that you carry all water and other supplies you may need. If you’re planning on visiting the railroad tunnel, make sure to wear long-sleeves and a hat; the Clarity Tunnel is the summer home for up to half a million bats!
While there are two trails at St. Edwards Park near Austin, TX, Creek Trail is the most family-friendly with a 2-mile round trip that follows the Bull Creek through open prairie land. If you need a quick break there are several small swimming holes and waterfalls along the creek to stop and play in and explore! Keep in mind, there are no restrooms on-site, so consider a quick gas-station stop before entering the park!
Paluxy River Trail
What kid wouldn’t jump at the chance to see some IRL dinosaur tracks!? At the aptly named Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX, you can follow the 1.9 mile Paluxy River Trail and keep an eye out for ancient dinosaur tracks embedded in the limestone bordering the Paluxy River. Check out this mapfor the best chances of spotting dinosaur tracks! Some parts of the trail can be a little difficult, and may be best-suited for kids 10 years-old and up!
Big Bend Hot Springs Trail
We’re back at Big Bend National Park, with a particularly relaxing (and dare we say romantic?) 1.1 mile hike to the Boquillas Hot Springs, a year-round 105 degree geothermal hot springs that shares space with the Rio Grande. The trail is fairly flat, making it an easy trek to a beautiful, steamy oasis in the desert. That being said, it isin the desert, so make sure to bring plenty of water so you don’t get dehydrated while taking a dip!
Reimer’s Ranch Trail
If you’re looking for a hill country hike, Reimer’s Ranch Trail is a 13.2 mile trail near Dripping Springs, TX featuring well-maintained trails and fields of gorgeous wildflowers and nearby swimming for those particularly scorching days. Keep an eye on the park map, and follow the black dotted trails; the red trails are for mountain biking only! There’s not a lot of shade on this trail, so make sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen and snacks for your day trek. Dogs are welcome, but must stay on a leash.
Arbor Hills Nature Preserve Outer Loop
Located near Plano, TX, this 2.4 mile loop features scenic fields of wildflowers, and space for jogging if that’s your thing. This nature preserve is safe and family-friendly, and has a playground to help the kiddos burn off some extra steam (if they’ve still got energy after the trail!). This trail is good for all skill levels, but can get a bit muddy after a good rain. Dogs are welcome, but must stay on a leash.