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5 of the Best Hikes near Austin, Texas (From My New Guidebook!)

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I wrote a guidebook!! I know, right?! Exciting stuff! It’s called Hiking Texas Hill Country, published by the inimitable Falcon Guides. And it was a looooooot of work, so I’m stoked to finally see it come into the world! (Some of you may remember we lived in Austin for 8 years, give or take a year or so to travel). As a teaser, I wanted to share 5 of the best hikes near Austin that are included in the book to whet your appetite, encourage you to lace up your boots, and consider buying the book, which offers everything from descriptions of flora and fauna to turn-by-turn hiking directions to epic imagery to inspire adventure!

The official release date is May 7, 2024, but you can pre-order the book HERE and it will be shipped to you as soon as it drops! Or stop by your favorite independent local bookstore and request they order it for you (we love supporting local bookstores). But while you wait, here are some of my favorite hikes from the guidebook.

5 of the Best Hikes near Austin

Revielle Peak Ranch: Blue Beginner Loop and Decision Point Trail

While Reveille Peak Ranch park and trail system may perhaps be known more as a mountain biking destination than a hiking hot spot, that’s why we love it. It’s far enough outside the city so as not to be crowded, there are tons of trails so you’re not constantly dodging cyclists, there’s an impressive variety of terrain from pink granite to rivers to shady groves, and the views. Are. Epic.

There is a cost to enter the park ($10 paid in cash or check ONLY), so make sure you come prepared, but it’s nice to know that camping is also available in case you want to spend the weekend. Our fave trail? Any one that leads you to the top of Decision Point. Trust us, the climb is worth it.

Pedernales Falls State Park: Falls Trail

Just an hour or so outside Austin is Pedernales Falls State Park, one of my favorite state parks for both hiking and mountain biking. You can’t swim in the falls (you can in the river just down the park road from the falls), but the short hike required to take a peek, dip your toes, and enjoy the view is always worth it in my opinion.

There is a $6 per adult cost to enter if you don’t have a Texas State Parks Pass, and if visiting on a holiday or weekend, it’s not a bad idea to reserve your spot in advance as the gates will close when the park reaches capacity. But even on weekends, because there are so many trails in the park, it never feels overcrowded. If you want a longer hike, check out Madrone and Juniper Ridge Loop.

Colorado Bend State Park: Spicewood Springs Trail

Who doesn’t love frequent access to creeks and natural springs on a too-hot hike in Texas? (No one I want to hike with, that’s for sure!) Well this trail at Colorado Bend has plenty! As well as plenty of scenery changes, big views, even shade! Yup, shade on a Texas hiking trail. All of that makes this one of our favorite hiking trails near Austin (though the Gorman Falls Trail at the same park is pretty impressive, too, and also offers river access for cooling off mid-hike). The park is a bit farther outside the city, but it’s totally worth the drive whether you’re planning a day trip or want to camp for a night or two (there are lots of armadillos that come out later in the day off that helps sway your decision…).

If you don’t have a Texas State Parks Pass, it’s $5 per person per day. Bring plenty of water because not all trailheads have access to potable refill stations.

Riverplace Nature Trail: Panther Hollow and Canyon Trails

Located just west of the city, this challenging hike near Austin is one of my faves for a few reasons: shade, a few access points to creeks and small falls to cool off, and the way my legs feel after tackling all those steps. Yup, there are lots of steps on this out-and-back trail that is 3/4 up and 3/4 back down. So if you want to feel like you got a proper workout, this is the one. It can be fairly popular on weekends, including with trail runners, but we don’t mind.

While signage states there’s a $10 fee per hiker to hike on weekends, I’ve never seen anyone collecting. Which is how it should be, because this trail is located in a neighborhood, not on state park or private land. But if you don’t want to take a chance, hike it during the week.

Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve: Full Loop

Some parks you visit at just the right time of day (golden hour) at just the right time of the week (Mon-Thurs) and everything just feels magical. That’s Wild Basin. There’s nothing especially challenging or epic about this unique trail system, but it’s totally worth a visit. There are a number of loops so you can choose your own adventure or hike the whole preserve, there are big views and quiet creeks, a visitor gallery open in the afternoon, and hardly anyone on the trails on weekdays, making it an excellent place to enjoy some peace and quiet in the outdoors just a short drive from downtown.

On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays you’ll need to make reservations and there’s a $5 fee required per adult ($15 for a group of up to 6), but weekdays are free. It’s an LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority) park operated in conjunction with St. Edwards University.

Bottom Line: Hikes Near Austin

Reveille Peak Ranch.

While Texas gets a bad rap for being flat and boring, Austin and Hill Country are anything but! Rivers, creeks, unique plant life, endangered species and big views abound. And if you’re willing to leave the city, there are even some excellent and occasionally challenging hikes to get your heart pumping and lungs puffing. So lace up your boots (or your hiking sandals) and get out there and wander on!