Grab your hiking boots and head out!
Whether east to west or north to south, get ready to see miles and miles of Texas. The state’s must-do hikes cover some spectacular terrain and could fill plenty of bucket lists. Get stepping with these scenic favorites for all levels of hikers, from beginners to birders and beyond.
The Lone Star Hiking Trail
The magnum opus of Texas trails, the Lone Star Hiking Trail winds through the Sam Houston National Forest over 128 miles and is the longest continuous hiking trail in the state. Plan for a spring or fall hike for beautiful blooms or colorful foliage.
The Lighthouse Trail
A nearly six-mile out-and-back, the Lighthouse Trail in Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a gem of the Panhandle. The namesake lighthouse-shaped rock formation towers 310 feet into the air and is surrounded by multicolored layers of rock, steep mesa walls and stunning geological features. The relatively easy hike doesn’t have much shade, so bring extra water and prepare for desert-like conditions.
Okay, experienced hikers, this one is for you. The highest peak in Texas will have you climbing through high desert and high elevation forest landscapes, unveiling sweeping views of El Capitan and the surrounding West Texas landscape. Nearly nine miles round-trip, this Guadalupe peak hike is intense, so prepare for an eight-hour day gaining nearly 3,000 feet in elevation.
Enchanted Rock Summit Trail
Located in Fredericksburg in the heart of the Hill Country, Enchanted Rock and its pink granite dome, called a batholith, has nearly 11 miles of hiking trails around it. The short but sweet Summit Trail is just under a mile with an 800 foot elevation gain, and takes hikers to the top of this massive rock—the second largest batholith in the country. Take in panoramic views of the surrounding Hill Country. Pack a lunch, sit, stay . . . and enjoy the scenery.
Muleshoe Bend Trail
Some hikes are just about strolling and taking in the views. Or maybe stopping to smell the flowers. Come spring, the Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area is a kaleidoscope of colors from Texas wildflowers. If you time this trail just right, the Muleshoe Bend Trail’s five-mile loop is the spot to see Texas bluebonnets in all their glory as you make your way through this floral wonderland.
Big Bend Favorites
Big Bend National Park offers visitors more than 150 miles of hiking trails meandering through its 800,000 acres of public land. You’re sure to find a hike to fit whatever style trek you’re looking for, from hot springs destinations to all-day hikes.
Nothing complements a hot day in the Texas desert better than a walk to the water on the Santa Elena Canyon Trail. This path takes hikers to the spectacular Santa Elena Canyon along the Rio Grande River. When the water level is low and safe, cool off with a dip in the shallow water.
The Window Trail in Big Bend is a visitor favorite. Just over four miles out and back, your trek begins at Chisos Basin Campground heading out to the Window, where stunning views of Mexico and the surrounding national park await.
Geological wonders are not in short supply in Big Bend. The Balanced Rock Trail is short, just over two miles, and leads to a massive circular rock balanced in unbelievable fashion. Its surrounding rock pillars frame the Texas backdrop for a picturesque destination.
Rio Grande Trail
Dig out your binoculars for this hike: the Rio Grande Trail, a birder’s paradise located in the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in Mission, Texas. The state park is a World Birding Center and home to 360 species of birds. At just under two miles, this easy hike is tranquil and perfect for finding some solitude while you search for the Great Kiskadee or an Altamira Oriole. The trail is also wheelchair-accessible.