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Hiking In Texas: The 24 Best Hiking Trails (2022)

best hiking in texas

There is nothing quite like Texas. From the historic downtown districts of Houston to the rolling hills of central Texas, Texas has something for everyone. One thing that Texas has a lot of? Wild beauty! Whether you’re looking for a quick day hike or an epic two-week adventure, hiking in Texas is sure to please. In this post, we’re going to talk about some of our favorite hiking destinations in Texas where you can get out and enjoy nature’s beauty on foot.

If you’re looking for a little more than hiking, check out our guide to the best state parks in Texas.

Since Texas is huge, we’re going to break down our list of 24 great hiking trails throughout the many different state and national parks in Texas, along with their closest major city. This way, you can plan accordingly if you decide on visiting any of these trails. Lastly, we’ve also included a map marking each destination around Texas, to make it even easier.

Table of Contents

Big Bend National Park Hiking

hiking in texas - big bend national park
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Big Bend National Park is one of the most popular national parks in Texas – and for a good reason. The park has stunning scenery, ranging from mountains to deserts to canyons. There are plenty of amazing hiking trails in Big Bend to choose from, but our favorite is the Lost Mine Trail. It’s a relatively difficult trail, but offers some of the most rewarding views in all of Texas.

Best Hiking Trails in Big Bend National Park

Santa Elena Canyon Trail: The trail is 1.4 miles long and takes about an hour to complete. Located in Big Bend National Park, Santa Elena Canyon is one of the most popular and most-visited hiking destinations in Texas. The canyon is named for the Santa Elena Mission, which was built in the 1600s and is now in ruins. The trail is generally considered pretty easy but has some challenging switchbacks at the beginning and little to no shade throughout.

Emory Peak Trail: Emory Peak trail is one of the most challenging trails in the park, but it’s also one of the most rewarding. The trail is 10 miles long and climbs over 2,000 feet to the summit of Emory Peak. The views from the top are well worth the effort, with panoramic views of the Chisos Mountains and the desert below.

Chisos Basin Loop Trail: This 2.4-mile loop hike takes you through the Chisos Mountains and offers views of the surrounding desert. It’s a great beginner trail near, conveniently located near the Chisos Lodge.

Lost Mine Trail: This 4.8-mile out-and-back hike is one of the most popular trails in Big Bend National Park – and all of Texas. It takes you to a miners’ cabin with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and absolutely breathtaking views.

What to Know Before You Go

There is a $15 per person entrance fee for Big Bend National Park. However, they do offer an Annual Pass to the park for $55.

The park is open year-round, but some trails may be closed due to weather conditions. Be sure to check the park’s website before you go.

Big Bend National Park is located about five hours from Midland/Odessa and six hours from El Paso.

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Palo Duro Canyon State Park Hiking

hiking in texas - palo duro canyon

Palo Duro Canyon State Park is home to the second-largest canyon in the United States. Nicknamed “The Grand Canyon Of Texas,” this gorgeous park has 30 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy to strenuous.

Best Hiking Trails in Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Lighthouse Trail: The trail is 5.8 miles long and takes about two hours to complete. It’s a bit challenging, but nothing crazy for an experienced hiker. However, once you make your ascent to the top of the lighthouse rock-formation, the challenge increases pretty rapidly. It’s all worth it once you get to the top and can take in the beautiful views of the surrounding canyon.

Juniper Cliffside Trail: This 2-mile loop trail follows the Juniper river through the canyon. The trail is relatively easy and is a great option for all. It’s one of the best family-friendly, and dog-friendly trails in Palo Duro.

What to Know Before You Go

There is an $8 per person (13+ years and up) entrance fee for Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Children under 12 can enter for free. This fee covers access for the day.

The park is open year-round, but some trails may be closed due to weather conditions. Be sure to check the park’s website before you go.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located about two hours from Amarillo and four hours from Lubbock.

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Caprock Canyons State Park Hiking

hiking in texas - caprock canyons

Caprock Canyons State Park is the third largest state park in Texas. This park is known for its rugged canyons, rolling hills, and prairies.

Best Hiking Trails in Caprock Canyons State Park

Caprock Canyons Trailway: This trail is 64 miles long, so if you plan on walking the entire route, plan to be here for a three to four days. Bring enough water, bring extra clothing, and don’t forget insect repellent. With that being said, the views are great and you’ll have ample opportunity to catch some of the natural wildlife of Caprock, such as deer, hogs, coyotes, and snakes. The path can get pretty rocky, so make sure to wear sturdy boots or shoes.

Rim Trail: This 6.5-mile loop takes you through a serene journey filled with beautiful views of the canyon, lots of wildlife, and wildflowers. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll run into some wild bison on your way through the trail.

What to Know Before You Go

There is a $5 per person entrance fee for Caprock Canyons State Park. This fee covers access for the day.

The park is open year-round, but some trails may be closed due to weather conditions. Be sure to check the park’s website before you go.

Caprock Canyons State Park is located about two hours from Amarillo and four hours from Lubbock.

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Davis Mountains State Park Hiking

hiking in texas - davis mountains state park

Davis Mountains State Park is located in the heart of the Davis Mountains. This park is known for its rugged trails, wildflowers, and stunning views. There are over 25 miles of hiking trails to choose from.

Best Hiking Trails in Davis Mountains State Park

Skyline Drive Trail: This trail is considered challenging, but the views are worth it. The trail is 4.3 miles long and features a 900 vertical climb to the top of the mountain. The first half of the trail is considered to be a bit more challenging, but it becomes a lot smoother around the halfway mark.

Indian Lodge Loop: This is a great trail for families. The trail is 2.5 miles long and takes about an hour to complete. Although it isn’t considered too challenging, the difficulty can vary from person to person depending on how many loose rocks you encounter on the trail.

What to Know Before You Go

There is a $6 per person (13+ years and up) entrance fee for Davis Mountains State Park if using the facilities.

The park is open year-round, but some trails may be closed due to weather conditions. Be sure to check the park’s website before you go.

Davis Mountains State Park is located about four hours from El Paso and six hours from San Antonio.

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Hueco Tanks State Park Hiking

hiking in texas - hueco tanks state park

Hueco Tanks State Park is home to a unique geological feature – hueco tanks. These are small, basin-like depressions in the rock that collect water and support plant life. Although there are fantastic views to be had while hiking, this park is known for its world-class bouldering. Over the years, it has become a mecca for climbers from all over the world.

Best Hiking Trails in Hueco Tanks State Park

Hueco Tanks Nature Trail: This is an excellent trail for families with children. The trail is 2 miles long and takes about 45 minutes to complete. Make sure to look out for the drawings of the Petroglyphs on this trail.

North Mountain Trail: This is our favorite trail in Hueco Tanks State Park. The trail is only 1 mile long and begins at the Interpretive Center. Throughout the trail, however, you’re rewarded with awe-inspiring cliffs and views of the North Mountain.

What to Know Before You Go

There is a $7 per person entrance fee for Hueco Tanks State Park. This fee covers access for the day.

Hueco Tanks State Park is restricted to guided tours and self-guided visits via permits. Guided tours must be booked one week in advance, and permits for self-guided tours must be reserved 90 days before your visit. You can view more information on their official park website.

Hueco Tanks State Park is located about two hours from El Paso and four hours from Carlsbad, New Mexico.

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Inks Lake State Park Hiking

hiking in texas - inks lake state park

Inks Lake State Park is a beautiful state park with over 20 miles of hiking trails. The park is home to Inks Lake, which is a popular spot for swimming, fishing, and canoeing.

Best Hiking Trails in Inks Lake State Park

Devil’s Backbone Trail: This 3.4-mile trail is our favorite in the park. It takes you through the heart of the park and offers scenic falls and swimming holes. It’s a relatively easy hike that offers more in the way of landscape, views, and things to see and do, than a hiking challenge. It also gets pretty crowded on this trail, so plan to come a bit earlier in the day.

Inks Lake State Park Trail: A more moderately difficult hike in Inks Lake, this trail is 4.5 miles long and takes about two and a half hours to complete. The views here are beautiful as well, with varied landscapes, wildlife and plant life.

What to Know Before You Go

There is a $5 per person entrance fee for Inks Lake State Park. This fee covers access for the day.

The park is open year-round, but some trails may be closed due to weather conditions. Be sure to check the park’s website before you go.

Inks Lake State Park is located about one hour from Austin and four hours from Houston.

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Enchanted Rock State Natural Area Hiking

hiking in texas - enchanted rock

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is a beautiful state park with over 11 miles of hiking trails. The park is home to Enchanted Rock, which is a large rock formation that offers views of the surrounding area.

Best Hiking Trails in Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

Summit Trail: Although it’s only a 1-mile trek, this hike is considered moderately difficult due to it’s steep incline up to the top of Enchanted Rock. But the views at the top are incredible, and look even better during the sunset.

Echo Canyon Trail: This 3-mile out-and-back hike takes you to the top of a canyon with views of the surrounding area. The trail is relatively easy and is an excellent option for families. The trails are very well maintained, but there isn’t much shade – so definitely pack some sunscreen.

What to Know Before You Go

There is an $8 per person entrance fee for Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. This fee covers access for the day.

The park is open year-round, but some trails may be closed due to weather conditions. Be sure to check the park’s website before you go.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is located about two hours from Austin and four hours from San Antonio.

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Guadalupe Mountains National Park Hiking

hiking in texas - guadalupe mountains national park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a beautiful national park with over 80 miles of hiking trails. The park is home to Guadalupe Peak, which is the highest point in Texas.

Best Hiking Trails in Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Peak Highpoint Trail: This is one of the most popular trails in Texas, by far. Guadalupe Peak provides views from the highest point in all of Texas. As you could imagine, the trail itself is quite a challenge. The trail is 8.4 miles long and over 3,000 feet in elevation gain. It takes approximately six to eight hours to complete this hike. Make sure to bring plenty of water!

Pine Springs Foothills Loop: The foothills at Pine Springs are the perfect beginner-friendly foray into the vast Guadalupe Mountains Park. If you can’t make it up to Guadalupe Peak, this 4.5-mile loop has you ascending nearly 800 feet and offers just as pretty views.

What to Know Before You Go

There is a $10 per person entrance fee for Guadalupe Mountains National Park. This permit allows up to 7 consecutive days in the park.

The park is open year-round, but some trails may be closed due to weather conditions. Be sure to check the park’s website before you go.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is located about five hours from El Paso and seven hours from Austin.

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Sam Houston National Forest Hiking

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Sam Houston National Forest is a beautiful forest with over 85 miles of hiking trails. The forest is home to many lakes and rivers, as well as the tallest tree in Texas. It’s also one of our favorite hiking spots in Houston.

Best Hiking Trails in Sam Houston National Forest

Lone Star Hiking Trail and Little Lake Creek Trail: This is one of the most popular trails in Sam Houston National Forest. Get ready to explore through forests, creeks and see all the wildlife that Houston has to offer. The trail is moderately challenging, but nothing too out of the ordinary besides a bit of overgrowth from time to time.

Lone Star Hiking Trail: This list wouldn’t be complete without the Lone Star Hiking Trail. The Lone Star Hiking Trail is 93 miles long and is the longest hiking trail in Texas. There are many breaks along the way, along with split sections to explore different trails and paths. If you plan on completing the entire trek, expect to take between 6 to 7 days.

What to Know Before You Go

There is a $5 per person entrance fee for Sam Houston National Forest. This fee covers access for the day.

The park is open year-round, but some trails may be closed due to weather conditions. Be sure to check the park’s website before you go.

Sam Houston National Forest is located about one hour from Houston and four hours from Austin.

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Garner State Park Hiking

hiking in texas - garner state park

Garner State Park is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Texas. The park is home to many different types of plants and animals, as well as a variety of birds. The trail is 3.6 miles long and takes about two hours to complete.

Best Hiking Trails in Garner State Park

Ashe Juniper Trail: The Ashe Juniper trail is a fantastic trail that takes you through the park’s nature preserve. The trail is 3.2 miles long and takes about two hours to complete.

Mount Ol’ Baldy: This is the park’s most popular hike, and for a good reason. The hike takes you to the top of Mount Ol’ Baldy, which offers stunning views of Garner State Park and the Frio River. Although quite steep, it’s only 1 mile long and takes about 45 minutes to complete. There are lot’s of loose rocks, so bring a sturdy pair of shoes or hiking boots.

What to Know Before You Go

There is an entrance fee of $8 per person for Garner State Park.

The park is open year-round, but some trails may be closed due to weather conditions. Be sure to check the park’s website before you go.

Garner State Park is located about three hours from San Antonio and four hours from Austin.

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Big Thicket National Preserve Hiking

hiking in texas - big thicket national preserve

The Big Thicket National Preserve is a great place for hiking, as it offers many different trails to choose from. There are also a variety of plants and animals in the preserve, so it’s a great place to see some wildlife.

Best Hiking Trails in Big Thicket National Preserve

Turkey Creek Trail: This is our favorite hike in the preserve. The trail is an 8-mile out-and-back that takes you through the woods and offers views of the surrounding area. It’s considered kid-friendly and unlike a lot of other trails on this list, is pretty well-shaded due to the surrounding trees.

The Woodlands Trail: This is a great trail for families, as it is an easy 5.2-mile hike. The trail takes you through the forest and offers many different types of plants, wildflowers and trees to see. You’ll also run into a few creeks and streams that run through the park during this trail.

What to Know Before You Go

There is no entrance fee for Big Thicket National Preserve, but donations are appreciated.

The preserve is open year-round, but some trails may be closed due to weather conditions and construction. Be sure to check the park’s website before you go.

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Texas Hiking Destinations Map

Conclusion

So, what are you waiting for? If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, look no further than the beautiful hiking trails of Texas. With everything from easy nature walks to challenging mountain climbs, these 11 destinations have something for everyone. So grab your gear and hit the trail! Have you hiked any of these amazing Texas trails?

Frequently Asked Questions About Hiking In Texas

Are there any mountains to climb in Texas?

There are very few mountains in Texas, but there are quite a bit of hills. The Guadalupe Mountains in West Texas are the state’s only mountain range.

What is the longest hike in Texas?

The longest hike in Texas is The Lone Star Hiking Trail, which is a 96-mile trail. (Plus, an additional 32 miles of crossover trails)

How hard is Guadalupe Peak Trail?

The Guadalupe Peak Trail is considered one of the most difficult hikes in all of Texas, as it is 8.4 miles long and has an elevation gain of over 3,000 feet. However, once you’ve made it to the peak, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Lone Star State’s highest points.

What is the best time of year to hike in Texas?

The best time of year to hike in Texas depends on where you are located in the state. In the northern part of the state, the best time to hike is from late fall to early spring, while in the southern part of the state, the best time to hike is from late winter to early fall. Basically, you want to avoid summer hiking if possible. Hiking in the summer heat can be very dangerous if you aren’t fully prepared and used to the Texas weather.

What is the prettiest part of Texas?

This is entirely subjective – but in my opinion, the prettiest part of Texas is the Hill Country. The rolling hills, limestone cliffs, and crystal-clear rivers make for some stunning scenery.

Is Texas flat or hilly? Where is the hilly part of Texas?

Texas is mostly flat, with a few small hills in the west and southeast parts of the state. The Hill Country is the hilly part of Texas, and it covers a large area in the center of the state.

Is there any wildlife to see on Texas hikes?

There is a wide variety of wildlife to see on Texas hikes, depending on the location and time of year. You may see deer, rabbits, coyotes, snakes, alligators, and a variety of other animals.

Are there rattlesnakes in Big Bend National Park?

Yes, there are rattlesnakes in Big Bend National Park. However, they are not typically a problem, and you are unlikely to see one if you’re careful. However, besides rattlesnakes, there are four venomous snake species to look out for while hiking in Texas.

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