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The best hiking trails near Austin
September 22, 2022

The best hiking trails near Austin

Eager to hit the trails without driving too far outside of Austin? This outdoorsy city has plenty to offer hikers of any skill level, including those who want to bring their furry friends along for a day in nature. Start planning your trip with these 10 popular hiking trails near Austin. 

Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail

.8 miles (4 minutes) from Austin 

Take a stroll, go for a jog or ride a bike on the 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail. This urban path is an easy one, and parts of it are ADA compliant. Locals recommend hitting the trail around sun up or sundown: Not only will it be cooler, but you’ll also be able to see the Austin skyline reflecting in the water. 

Blunn Creek Greenbelt Trail 

2.7 miles (10 minutes) from Austin 

Although this one-mile trail isn’t far outside of Austin, its wild terrain will make you feel like you’ve completely left the city. It’s the perfect place to go for a peaceful trek, as it isn’t as frequented as other trails. When temperatures climb, make plans to take a dip in Big Stacy Pool, which is located next to the trail. This free neighborhood swimming spot offers a great way to cool down after working up a sweat. 

Mayfield Park and Preserve

5.5 miles (12 minutes) from Austin

You might have heard of Mayfield Park and Preserve as being a top wedding and party venue, but it’s also a public park with plenty of walking trails snaking through its 21 acres. Keep an eye out for the peafowl that roam the grounds, as well as turtles and herons that hang out in the ponds. Take a walk on the Mayfield Park Lake Trail, which is a .3-mile loop. You’ll have to leave your pooch at home though, as this isn’t a dog-friendly trail. 

barton creek greenbelt in austin tx

Barton Creek Greenbelt

5.7 miles (11 minutes) from Austin

There are 12 miles of trails in the Barton Creek Greenbelt hiking area, located just outside of downtown Austin. You can find challenging, steep ascents in some areas, while other trails take you through dense forests and past swimming holes. Barton Creek Greenbelt is dog-friendly, so feel free to bring your pup along for the hike.

Mount Bonnell

6.1 miles (13 minutes) from Austin 

Get great views of Austin from this popular lookout spot — it’s actually one of Austin’s highest points at 781 feet. You’ll need to climb 102 stairs to reach the top, but the rewarding view makes it an ideal spot for a picnic lunch. Even better, get there for sunrise or sunset for an Instagram-worthy sight. Parking at the start of the trail is free.

barton falls hiking trail near austin tx

McKinney Falls State Park

9.8 miles (17 minutes) from Austin 

Nine miles of trails wind through this dog-friendly state park. The 2.8-mile Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail is a family-friendly option with a hard surface that’s perfect for strollers and road bikes. The Rock Shelter Trail is a popular and easy .7-mile out-and-back trail for hikers that runs along Onion Creek. 

Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve

9.9 miles (15 minutes) from Austin 

The Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve is perfect for those who want to go for a hike with young kids. There are roughly 2.5 miles of trails running through the preserve and the trailhead is located near the Capital of Texas Highway. Start your hike off at the welcome center, where the St. Edward’s University staff has put together educational attractions like a microscope station and bird-watching station. Then make your way to the waterfall at Bee Creek and the scenic overlook beyond. You may even be lucky and spot the golden-cheeked warbler along the path. Weekdays are free and hiking reservations are not required. On the weekend and holidays, however, you will need to make a reservation and buy a hiking pass to enter the preserve.

Mary Moore Searight Park Trail 

9.9 miles (16 minutes) from Austin

Mary Moore Searight Park has an outer loop trail that runs for 2.1 miles and connects to inner trails that help you extend your hike and mix things up a bit. The park’s trail markers are notoriously easy to miss, so you may need to refer to your phone’s GPS unless you feel like getting lost adds to your hiking adventure. This park also has accommodations such as basketball courts, a disc golf course, a picnic area and a playground. Dogs can run off leash here, too.

River Place trail system

15.4 miles (27 minutes) from Austin 

There are three connected trails within the River Place trail system that total roughly 6 miles out and back: Panther Hollow Trail, Little Fern Trail and Canyon Trail. Panther Hollow Trail is a short shaded trail that leads hikers to the other two trails. Little Fern Trail follows Little Fern Creek and, as the name suggests, is lined with bushy green ferns. Canyon Trail is the longest in this bunch and known for being challenging, with thousands of built-in steps to climb. Given all the elevation you gain, you’ll enjoy fantastic panoramic views from this trail. Dogs are allowed here but must be leashed.

Turkey Creek Trail

15.4 miles (27 minutes) from Austin

Enjoy this pet-friendly, off-leash trail with your dog in Emma Long Metropolitan Park. This out-and-back trail is roughly 2.5 miles long and considered to be moderately challenging due to its rocky areas and exposed tree roots. The mostly shaded path crosses over a creek a few times, providing opportunities for your dog to enjoy the water while you get your feet wet too.

Tips for hiking in Austin

Summers in Austin can reach 100º F, so bring plenty of water for everyone in your group. Sunscreen and bug spray are always recommended for hiking, too. You’ll find places to swim along many of the trails in Austin, so bring a swimsuit or towel in case you decide to take a dip. Lastly, get an early start to help avoid the heat and crowds, as most of these trails are very popular.