Outdoor enthusiasts are pretty lucky if they live or spend time in Texas. With a variety of terrains to explore and year round moderate temperatures in many parts of the state, Texas boasts some of the best hiking trails for individuals of all skill levels. Whether you choose to brave the steep mountainsides or take a scenic jaunt through the grasslands, there are plenty of trails to explore and enjoy in Texas. Here are a few tails that should be on your "must hike" trail list.
With more than 150 miles of trails, Big Bend can please everyone from the backpacking professional to the seasonal day hiker. Elevations range from 1,800 feet to over 7,000 feet providing visitors with opportunities to discover a vast array of plants, animals and scenery. Enjoy a short day hike along the winding river or spend several days exploring the vast desert or crisp mountaintops.
Whether your hiking trip takes you camping under the coal skies filled with millions of diamond-like stars or rappelling over limestone rocks and temple-like canyons, endless opportunities exist here to escape your everyday life and enjoy the great outdoors.
Check out this interactive Big Bend Map to find things to see and do as well as campgrounds in Big Bend.
Mother Nature’s diversity thrives in Big Thicket. Home to a rich abundance of native plants and animals, this place of discovery offers hikers a first-hand exploration of nine different eco-systems including the long-leaf pine system and cypress-lined bayous. Trails here range from a 0.3 mile loop around the boardwalk to the more challenging Big Sandy Trail, offering miles of diverse terrain through pine forests, beach terrain and a floodplain forest. The preserve is perfect for backpacking professionals and families with young children alike. Whether you choose to spend the day seeking a once in a lifetime glimpse of the red-cockaded woodpecker or hope to challenge your body, mind and spirit by hiking the expansive Turkey Creek Unit or creepy green solitude of the Neches, Big Thicket is certain to take your breath away.
If you are up for a challenge, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is the place to be. Not for the novice backpacker, a hike up Guadalupe Peak involves climbing 3,000 feet before reaching the summit. The paths are home to some of the most dangerous and mysterious native wildlife including rattlesnakes, black bears, coyote and mountain lions, but the uneven terrain riddled with cliffs that drop 1,700 feet or more might be the most intimidating part of the hike. Those who make it to the top are rewarded with distant views of pristine white salt flats and sierras as colorful as the early morning sunrise. For adventurous backpackers, this park deserves a place at the top of their list.
Here is a link to camping in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Take a journey of the mind to the Blue Ridge Mountains in the middle of fall without ever leaving Texas. Located on the Edwards Plateau just north of Vanderpool, this park was named for the expansive bigtooth maples that grow here. The most beautiful hikes in this area take place in fall, when the leaves are changing and the skyline is filled with sunset hues of burnt orange, deep red and dark magenta, but the park is open for visits all year round. Several paths are available in Lost Maple with options for all experience levels. Day hikers can cool off with a dip in the deep watering hole, and families can sit back at the campground while more adventurous members of the group enjoy longer hikes.
Wolf Mountain is a popular spot and frequented by many visitors heading to Central Texas. The site caters to many different experience levels with opportunities to travel through scrub lands, cedar woodlands, valley vistas and springs. As in most of Texas, those who journey here are likely to experience a history lesson along the way. One of the highlights of Wolf Mountain is the tranquil waters of the Jones Spring. Stop here for a rest after several miles of hiking to enjoy the peaceful sounds of a babbling stream as it makes its way down a fern lined canyon. Bring your camera along for this hike, as the breathtaking views are perfect for the photography enthusiast.
Whether you are a novice backpacker with a goal to get fit and spend more time outdoors or a hiking enthusiast who longs to find new places to experience and explore, Texas is the place to be. Plan your next trip here for a journey through the park, deep trek into the woods or endurance driven hike to the top of the world. Whatever your choice, it is certain to be an experience you will never forget!
Jonathan Leger is an avid hiker and a sponsored member of the Garden Writer's Association. He runs a small site dedicated to the history, education and care of a variety of roses at CabbageRoses.net.