Hiking In Texas

As the second-biggest state in America, it is no wonder that Texas can offer you plenty of activity and beauty in the form of hikes. Whether you are an experienced trail hiker or just want to get out of the house, there are many places for you to go hiking in Texas. Texas offers some of the most diverse hiking trails in the country to ensure that you will not be disappointed.

If you are looking for a multi-day hike, the best hike for you is the trail to McKittrick Ridge, where you can camp for the night. However, some shorter but beautiful walks include the Lighthouse Hike, the Fate Bell Pictograph Trail, and The East Trail in The Lost Maples State Natural Area.

Since the sheer number of options for going hiking can be a bit too much for anyone to handle, I have made a list of the top 10 best places to go. These hikes can range from easy to hard difficulty levels, and some will have you climbing instead of walking. With the inclusion of some multi-day hikes, there will be a hike for every kind of adventurer.

Top 10 Places To Hike In Texas

When considering the best places to go hiking in Texas, it is essential to remember that not all hikes are accessible year-round. Even when a trail is accessible during most of the year, the things you need to pack may differ based on the season or your hiking area.

Before planning a hike to any of these places, be sure to check the local regulation and get a permit if needed. Often some recommendations need to be considered, such as the instruments, food , and water you should take along the hike. It is crucial to ensure that you are never underprepared for the journey.

1.   Lighthouse Hike, Palo Duro Canyon State Park

The out-and-back hike to the so-called “Lighthouse” is one of the most popular hikes in Texas due to both the area and the formation itself. The Palo Duro Canyon is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Texas and has at least two known routes to the Lighthouse formation. The most common of the two provided routes is a total distance of 5.88 miles.

If you wish to do this hike without the interruption of other hikers, the best time would be to do the hike as early in the morning as possible. Since this hike is popular and well known, many tourists can flood this area to do the hike, and the area is usually quite crowded around mid-day and sundown when many people enjoy taking photos of the scenery.

When doing this trail hike, be sure to bring a camera on your journey, so you can capture the moment and the wonder of the tall stone structure if you wish. There is also a bench at the end of the trail where you can rest or take photos of the area before heading back.

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Entry Fee: 8 USD per Adult and Free for Children aged 12 or under

2.   South Rim Trail and Emory Peak, Big Bend National Park

The South Rim Trail in the Big Bend National Park in Texas covers 12.5 miles for the single hike alone and without the route to Emory Peak. This hike can be either a full-day hike or, if you wish, you can spend the night at any of the backcountry campsites found all along this route to make it a two-day hike. If you want to make this a two-day hike, be sure to come prepared.

If you want to go to the highest peak in the Big Bend National Park, I recommend adding the Emory Peak trail to make a total distance of 15.6 miles. Though this might seem like an exceptionally long hike to do, the view at the highest point is stunning and well worth the effort if you have the time and energy to spare.

If you can complete this hike, you will have one of the most amazing views of the surrounding area and will be able to look out over the seemingly never-ending mountainous terrain. There have been reports of this area becoming as hot as 100˚F, so be sure to come prepared as even the most experienced hikers can have a hard time.

Difficulty: Moderate to Hard

Entry Fee: 30 USD per Vehicle (valid for seven days)

3.   Fate Bell Pictograph Trail, Seminole Canyon State Park

If you want to walk along a beautiful route full of history and culture, this is the best hike for you. The Seminole Canyon State Park offers guided-only tours twice a day to allow groups to see the historic cave paintings estimated to be so much as 4000 years old. The route is also wheelchair accessible to let everyone see the usually hidden cave paintings.

On the route to the site of the Pictographs, you will be passing through a canyon and seeing some old “rock ovens” where the humans that originally inhabited this area prepared their meals. There is, unfortunately, reason to believe that some of the pictographs might fade entirely in as little as 20 years, making this an opportunity that might not last forever.

The total length of this round-trip guided hike is relatively short, at only 1 mile long. However, this is a fantastic sight to see even for non-experienced hikers staying in or visiting the area. If you are in the area and have some time to spare, this walk is sure to highlight your journey and give you something to talk about with friends and family.

Difficulty: Easy

Entry Fee: 4 USD per Adult and Free for Children aged 12 or under

4.   Enchanted Rock Loop, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

This loop trail at the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is known for the boulder-filled terrain and the namesake of the park, The Enchanted Rock. Though the loop trail goes around The Enchanted Rock itself, you are allowed, and I recommend that you make your way up the giant boulder to allow yourself the breathtaking views from above.

The whole hike, including making it to the top of the summit, is 5.5 miles in total, and the view from the top is stunning. Once at the top, you will have a full view of the Texas Hill County, which is a favorite for sundown photos. The summit itself is quite large, allowing you space to move around and explore a bit without worrying about other hikers or tourists.

If you wish, you can also find some snacks in the park, and if you want to extend the hike by a little more, the loop also travels around the so-called “Little Rock,” which you can get on to have a good view of the Enchanted Rock itself. If you are a nature lover searching for a relatively simple hike, this route comes highly recommended

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Entry Fee: 8 USD per Adult and Free for Children aged 12 or under

5.   The East Trail, Lost Maples State Natural Area

If you happen to be in the area during fall, this trail is sure to provide you with breathtaking views of the Maple trees hidden away deep in Hill Country, Texas. This 4.4-mile look type hike in the Lost Maples State Natural Area draws thousands of nature lovers when the maple trees start sporting vibrant red and orange leaves during October and November.

Though October and November are the most popular visiting months for this area, there is still a lot to see year-round. This trail includes a river crossing and some limestone features such as the Monkey Rock and the Grotto. With the amount of beauty this park holds, you might even consider staying the night.

If visiting during the popular season, you might not be able to find a camping area available in the park itself. Still, luckily there are other camping areas around the site as well. However, this park comes with a warning that the cars can queue outside the park during the most popular times, so it is best to start your journey as early as possible to avoid the wait.

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Entry Fee: 6 USD per Adult and Free for Children aged 12 or under

6.   Crockett Garden Falls Trail, Georgetown

This hiking trail is a 7.6-mile out-and-back route that forms part of the much bigger 26-mile loop called the San Gabriel Goodwater Loop. This shorter section of the entire course includes breathtaking scenery, perfect for sunset photos. On the journey to the falls, you will also be passing by the remnants of an old homestead, an interesting sight.

Though this hike offers a lot of shade on the journey, you should still pack wisely as the temperatures here can become very hot. This trail will also take you around some of the cliffs of Lake Georgetown, so be sure to keep an eye on children or pets to avoid injuries. At the end of this trail, you will see some of the beautiful little waterfalls the park is known for having.

Another factor to consider when planning your hike is the time of the week and year you want to come. Since the area can get quite hot, some recommend visiting this trail during the colder months to avoid the heat. It is also essential to note that weekends can get very busy, so it is best to come during the week if you wish to avoid other hikers.

Difficulty: Moderate

Entry Fee: 5 USD per Vehicle (maximum six people)

7.   The Great Escape, Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area

The Great Escape is both a hiking and mountain biking trail through the fields of bluebonnets in the Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area in Texas. This beautiful and natural area is known for the popular loop route surrounded by various Texan wildflowers during the spring months, making it picturesque and a great escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

On this route, you will not only be able to see the flowers growing everywhere, but you also have a chance of seeing some of the wildlife such as deer, rabbits, and occasionally a grey fox. There are also other little loops that you can add to your original hiking trail if you wish to explore some more, and you can prolong your stay by camping here for the night.

If you do not wish to come during the spring season to avoid other hikers and cyclists, you can come to this area any time of the year and not be disappointed. The general scenery and river surrounding much of this area make it the perfect little getaway, and the sunsets are breathtakingly beautiful, so be sure to bring your camera if you wish to take some photos.

Difficulty: Moderate

Entry Fee: 5 USD per Adult and Free for Children aged 12 and under

8.   The trail to McKittrick Ridge, Guadalupe Mountains National Park

If you are looking to do a longer trail, the hike to McKittrick Ridge might be the perfect hike for you. Said to be one of the more demanding trails in Texas, this trip is best stretched over two days with one night of backcountry camping at the McKittrick Ridge campground.

This point-to-point trail stretches for nearly 15 miles when done both there and back. Around the halfway point, you will reach an area called “The Notch,” which is said to have a number of the most breathtaking views of the canyon that surrounds this vantage point.  

For the most part, I do not recommend doing this hike if you are not used to making rough trails. The steep parts of this hike may require you to climb rocks, and if you are staying the night, this might be hard when you have a bag full of supplies on your back.

I also need to mention that you will need to get a permit before doing this hike. The price for the permit is not too high, so be sure to make a stop at the Pine Springs Visitor Center to pay for entry and the use of the camping area.

Difficulty: Hard

Entry and Stay Fee: 6 USD Reservation Fee and 6 USD per-person-per-night Recreation fee

Conclusion

Whether you are a long-distance hiker or are just looking to get away from the rush of everyday life, there is a hike for you. Texas is a beautiful state with many different places to hike, and if you feel like it, some of these places help you break away for a weekend by letting you camp. Be sure to visit these places soon as some of their attraction might not be around forever.