Best Easy Day Hikes Austin  by Keith Stelter

Best Easy Day Hikes: Austin Guide Book

by Keith Stelter (Falcon Guides)
Best Easy Day Hikes Austin  by Keith Stelter
Best Easy Day Hikes Austin includes concise descriptions and detailed maps for twenty of the author’s favorite, easy-to-follow hikes in and around Austin, Texas. Discover a region of diverse scenery and natural beauty—with a host of splendid trails in such areas as the Wild Basin Wilderness, McKinney Roughs, Bastrop State Park, and Southeast Metro.

© Keith Stelter/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Easy Day Hikes: Austin" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 20.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 20.

Texas Hill Country lovers and bird-watchers can combine the Cactus Rocks, Vista Knoll, and Ridgeline Trails to explore the Balcones limestone terraces in the Warbler Vista area of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Follow the Vista Knoll Trail down the backbone of a ridge and then back up for panoramic views of the Hill Country and Lake Travis. On the Cactus Rocks Trail, cactus appear to grow out of rocks.
Cedar Hill, TX - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 3.6
The Gus Fruh Access to the Barton Creek Greenbelt provides great scenery and some difficult single-track hiking along Barton Creek. The greenbelt opened in 1985 and is the patriarch of all hiking trails within the city. These trails are best enjoyed if hiked in segments via one of the six access points.
Austin, TX - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 2.7
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The hike to Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls is a magnet for nature lovers, dog walkers, waders, and mountain bikers. The trail follows Barton Creek, which splits the greenbelt and is bordered by sheer cliff walls. The creek may be dry, depending on the rainfall. Vegetation is thick, lush, and varied. This is the most popular hike in Austin. Check the kiosk at the trailhead to become familiar with the trails. Head right (north) along the canyon rim and then down. Dog walkers, mountain bikers, and folks eager to go wading share the trail. Stay to the right and be alert to speeding bikers. Take water, a hat, and sunscreen. The dirt trail is narrow and winds its way through heavy woods of oaks and cedars. Much of the trail is flat, but some climbing and careful footwork are necessary.
Oak Hill, TX - Hiking,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 3.2
Combine portions of three trails into a 3-mile hike to see the best of Bastrop State Park. Start in the loblolly pines, towering 60 feet overhead. These are part of “Lost Pines,” the westernmost stand in Texas. In the spring, mating calls from the Houston toad, an endangered species, can be heard. The park was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1997, based on work done in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
Bastrop, TX - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.1
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This is the only hike in Texas that loops through more than 1,100 pecan trees. It’s also the best trail for beginners, families with small children, and persons needing wheelchair access. Follow along Berry Creek to the Mill Pond, where beavers live. There are six interconnecting loops in Berry Springs Park that create 5 miles of trails. Start the Muy Grande Loop, a concrete, wheelchair-accessible trail, by taking the left branch. More than 1,100 pecan trees, the state tree, come into view. The most striking thing is that the trees, planted in the mid-1920s, are in perfect rows exactly the same distance apart. Follow the path to a walk-around circle. Circle to the right: Berry Creek is on the left about 30 yards down, and the dam crossing the creek at CR 152 is in sight.
Weir, TX - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.3
Forty-acre Blunn Creek Nature Preserve, across the street from St. Edward’s University, remains wild and natural. The trails are well marked and maintained, although portions are rocky and steep. Blunn Creek is forded twice while going from dense tree cover to hilly overlooks. A short out-and-back segment leads to the Volcano Overlook. Start at the West Creek Trail trailhead, on the north side of St. Edwards Drive. This hike combines portions of several trails in the preserve, and most parallel the creek. There are many branches and intersections, but they are well marked. The trail surface is mostly dirt, with some gravel and compressed volcanic rock. Some of the outcroppings and rocks were created by volcanoes that existed in Travis County about seventy million years ago.
Austin, TX - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
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Interest is added to the hike as it passes by a fenced area that protects a karst cave. A karst is an underground area of eroded limestone, caves, and streams, and the karst under central Texas allows groundwater to flow into the Edwards Aquifer. Cross Slaughter Creek twice, once over a concrete path and the second time by using rocks as stepping stones. The loop around the soccer fields is an easy hike that’s good for families with young children.
Oak Hill, TX - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.4
This 215-acre underutilized park is great for families and beginning hikers. The short trail follows a robust creek, a line of towering pecan trees, and cliffs along the shores of Lake Austin, which is actually the Colorado River. Watch for turtles in the creek. The water and vegetation also furnish good habitat for birds; more than 120 species have been sighted in the park. Start this hike, also known as the Pecan Grove Loop, on the north side of the park road and follow an unnamed creek on the right (east) that heads north and empties into Lake Austin. The area around the trailhead is notable due to the large number of mature live oak trees that adjoin it. Rem- nants of a fence can be seen east of the creek. Very large live oaks, interspersed with a few sycamores, are scattered on both sides of the trail.
Austin, TX - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 1.6
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The loop trail is encircled by oak trees, shrubs, and good habitat for birds and other wildlife. The semiwild areas near the edges of the path invite investigation. Squirrels and raccoons may be seen during the day. This is an easy hike for beginners and families. It is wheelchair and stroller accessible.
Oak Hill, TX - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 1.4
This is a hike for solitude and “roughing it” a bit. After a short walk along the tennis courts, the trail leads into the dense woods. Williamson Creek borders the south and east side of the hike. Sometimes following the trail can be a challenge. This hike starts near the tennis courts and goes past the ball fields. It joins the paved jogging trail, which circles the play fields and has no shade. Follow the paved trail south into the wooded area, where the surface is dirt and grass. There is no trail signage, so keep heading generally south and east on the narrow path. The woods are heavy, and the undergrowth can be thick. Walking becomes a little more difficult due to the undergrowth and the wandering nature of the trail.
Austin, TX - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 1.6
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Turkey Creek is the hike for creek lovers and dog lovers. Dogs who love to splash in the water get ample opportunity, as the creek is crossed no fewer than fourteen times. A variety of vegetation, including cedar, cedar elm, live oak, and mountain laurel, lines the creek bed. Follow a modest ascent from the creek, leaving the valley, to the top of the bluff, and break into the open sky at the canyon rim.
Austin, TX - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.6
This hike, which allows you to see a small section of the underground karst world, is a great hike for young children or others interested in learning more about the Edwards Aquifer and the geology around Austin. Several small caves have been formed here by the collapse of sinkholes. Goat Cave, near the end of the hike, is home to a colony of bats. Entry is prohibited. At the trailhead, stop at the kiosk to read about karst geol- ogy and cave inhabitants, including troglobites, troglozenes, and troglophiles. Several endangered species make these caves their home. All are adapted to living in a wet, humid, constant-temperature environment, and some have no eyes. Some are so small that it is difficult to see them without using magnification. Larger animals, spiders, snakes, and bats also use the sinkholes.
Oak Hill, TX - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 0.7
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This park has a number of intersecting trails, totaling over 6 miles, which makes it easy to alter the hike depending on the time available and amount of solitude wanted. These trails can be reached from the paved Metro Loop Trail. Spanish moss drapes many of the oak trees. At the pavilion and restrooms on the south side of the parking lot, head west on the sidewalk for about 50 feet to reach the asphalt trail. There are large boulders on the right and cedar trees on the left. Cross a wide dry section of creek bed that has a limestone bottom.
Manchaca, TX - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.4
The walk to get to the trailhead is a miniadventure. Go over the lavalike rock flows from Pilot Knob volcano, which created Lower McKinney Falls eighty million years ago. Then ford Onion Creek, or wade across the top of the falls. The trail passes by the ruins of Thomas F. McKinney’s 1850s homestead and grist mill. Return to the trailhead and walk to the Smith Rock Shelter Trail to view the remnants of a natural rock shelter used hundreds of years ago.
Austin, TX - Hiking,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 3
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It’s always great to find a new trail, such as the Buckeye Trail in McKinney Roughs Nature Park qualifies, which opened in late 2007. This is really a connector trail between the Road Runner Trail and the Pecan Bottom Trail, making those trails easier to reach. Buckeye Trail passes through the post oak/blackjack oak savanna ecosystem and leads to one of the largest pecan trees in the state.
Crawford, TX - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 3
This route combines the best of the 17 miles of McKinney Roughs Nature Park’s crisscrossed collection of loops and out-and-back trails into one spectacular 2.5-mile hike. Start from the flat ridgetop, then head down to the Colorado River, getting sweeping views of rolling box canyons, steep ravines, juniper and oak forests, wildflower meadows, and the river itself. Pass through four Texas ecoregions: post oak savanna, blackland prairie, east Texas piney woods, and central Texas plateau.
Garfield, TX - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 2.5
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Hiking nearly 3 miles up, down, and around the backbone of a ridge, with forest, cactus, and undergrowth reaching to the trail’s edge, makes this feel like the wilderness. Two ponds offer resting points on their fishing piers. Downtown Austin can be seen from one of the overlooks. This is acknowledged as the best hike in eastern Travis County.
Garfield, TX - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.6
St. Edwards Park offers a split personality—a high limestone bluff and flat lowlands separated by Bull Creek. Cross over slightly submerged rocks to the south side of Bull Creek and the Hill Trail. A steep section over limestone outcrops leads to the top, where a single-track trail clings to the edge of the bluff. There are impressive vistas of the countryside through clearings in the cedars.
Jollyville, TX - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
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This park offers a large number of crisscrossing trails. This can add a dimension to the hike for those seeking variety. Cross Tar Branch Creek and Walnut Creek. Wildlife is abundant, but it can be difficult to see due to mountain bikers and dog walkers. Both venomous and nonvenomous snakes may be near the creeks. offers a maze of trails, which can be confusing at times. Fortunately, the trails are well marked with signposts that include a number assigned by the park to identify their location. Mountain bikers use the park extensively, so keep to the right.
McNeil, TX - Hiking,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.2
This is one of Austin’s most pristine nature preserves. The trails wind through granite outcrops, woods, and grasslands and near Bee Creek. A small waterfall about halfway through the hike is refreshing. It’s home to the black-capped vireo, a threatened species, and hundreds of other bird species. There are many interpretive stations along the trail, making it a great hike for nature lovers.
Austin, TX - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 2.1
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