Central Texas is known for its varied landscapes that includes the rolling hills of the Texas Hill Country to the west of Austin, gently rolling hills with taller trees to the east of Austin, and plenty of lakes and rivers dotting the landscape. The Texas State Parks and Wildlife Department has preserved many of the most scenic areas in Central Texas as state parks. Take some time to explore the most beautiful landscapes in Central Texas with some of these top nature hikes.
Enchanted Rock State Park. About two hours west of Austin and just a short drive outside of Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock State Park is home to one of the most unique landscapes in Texas. Enchanted Rock is a huge granite dome, the second largest of its kind in the United States behind Stone Mountain in Georgia. The park offers picnic tables and campsites, but the most popular activity at the park is hiking along the Summit Trail to take in panoramic views of the Hill Country from the summit of Enchanted Rock. From the trail head to the summit, you will travel approximately three-quarters of a mile, and make an elevation change of about 800-feet. At the summit, there is ample space to roam at your leisure and find a quiet spot. Many people pack snacks or a picnic lunch to enjoy while they savor views at the summit. Other trails at this park wind around Enchanted Rock and the other granite outcroppings located on the park grounds.
Bastrop State Park. Bastrop State Park is located just a short drive east of Austin, and provides you with a much different hiking experience. At Bastrop State Park, you will find towering trees that are reminiscent of the East Texas landscape. Several trails of varying lengths are located throughout the park, but one of the most scenic trails is the Lost Pines Trail. This out-and-back trail covers a distance of about seven miles, and features a mild elevation change of just 750 feet over the course of the trail. The trail is largely shaded by a variety of species of tall trees, but there are open stretches of grassy areas. One of the unique features of this trail are the several ponds that you will pass by, which are home to the endangered Houston Toad.
Guadalupe River State Park. For many people living in and visiting Central Texas, floating down a river is the perfect way to spend a summer afternoon. The Guadalupe River State Park, located about an hour north and west of San Antonio, just a short drive west of New Braunfels, is the perfect, family-friendly destination for enjoying a relaxing day on the river. While relaxing on the river is the top activity for visitors to the Guadalupe River State Park, the park is also home to one of the most scenic and serene hiking trails in the area. The park features a unique 5.3 mile trail that is often seldom traveled on, making it the perfect way to relax and enjoy nature away from the crowds at the river. The trail features a varied terrain with areas of large shade trees, open grassy areas, and scenic overlooks with views of the Hill Country and the river. The trail offers a series of loops that provide you with shorter hiking options. This hiking trail is a dirt trail with a mostly gentle incline, making it a relatively easy hike with plenty of rewarding views
Hiking and enjoying nature is an immensely popular activity in central Texas. Be sure to enjoy some of these beautiful hikes on your next outdoor adventure in the Hill Country!