What cures the ills of cabin fever, screen addiction, and the boredom-blahs? Getting outside, hitting the trails, and exploring what Mother Nature offers at a park. Lucky for us, Texas is abundant with hiking, biking, and paddling trails to cure what ails us.
Regardless of what part of the Lone Star State Texans are visiting or live in, there are likely exciting trails and paths to traverse through nature nearby. Use this trail-blazing guide to help point you in the direction of adventure and opportunities for memory-making, restoration of health, and family bonding. Happy trails!
#1 – Brays Bayou Greenway Trail in Harris County
Looking for an inner-city trail that allows you to stretch your legs without venturing too far from Downtown Houston? Brays Bayou Greenway is the trail for you. It has 33.8 miles of asphalt and concrete pathways that are bike, skate, and wheelchair friendly. This trail could easily turn into the ideal all-day getaway for a family or individual in need of escaping the entrapments of home and office. It is easily accessible via the METRO rail or various public entry points along the way. Sight-seeing stops on the trail include the Houston Zoo, the museum district, and stunning MacGregor Park. For a trail map and further details, visit the City of Houston Parks and Recreation website, Bayou Greenways.
#2 – San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in Bexar County
Combining a wealth of history, culture, and nature, The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is a fantastic weekend getaway option. Only four miles south of Texas’s second-largest city, the San Antonio National Historical Park project has preserved four Spanish frontier missions for the education and enjoyment of visitors. Explore via cell phone tour, Junior Rangers program, various art festivals, and study 300 years’ worth of historical escapades. There are over ten miles of hike and bike trails that traverse this monumental park. Visit the National Park Service website, San Antonio Missions, for information about events, directions, and hours.
#3 – Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve in Dallas County
Is birding one of your hobbies or activities for health and healing? Then the Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve trails are for you. It is supported by Dallas County, the City of Dallas, and the Audubon Dallas Society. This 301-acre nature preserve boasts some of the best hiking, picnicking, and birdwatching in the Lone Star state. There are nine miles of trails that range from easy to difficult, a stunning butterfly garden, and habitats designed specifically for the rare black-capped Vireo. You will not want to miss this wildlife sanctuary on your next outdoor adventure. Visit Audubon Dallas’s website for the latest updates and directions.
#4 – St. Edward’s Park in Travis County
Located off Spicewood Springs Road in the Austin area, St. Edward’s Park is the place for nature-seeking dog lovers. This 80-acre hidden haven is known for its pet-friendly pathways, waterfalls, and ponds for cooling off during the dog days of summer. It also includes gorgeous Hill Country views, cactus patches, and wildlife galore. This park offers a two-mile trail for runners, open spaces for endless games of fetch, and picturesque pocket prairies full of wildflowers perfect for the budding photographer. For further information, visit the Austin Parks’s website.
#5 – Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso County
Most national parks offer hiking and biking trails, but Franklin Mountains State Park also boasts rock climbing in McKelligon Canyon. This immense 27,000-acre park provides visitors with over 100 miles of trails, camping sites, and geocaching opportunities. It also boasts the challenging heights and scenic views of the Rio Grande. Although the park is technically within the El Paso city limits, nature and wildlife abound. Do not be surprised to see mule deer, coyotes, mountain lions, and golden eagles as you explore the mountains. Water and sunscreen are necessities for this trailing adventure. For other suggestions of what to bring, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife site for the Franklin Mountains State Park.
#6 – Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve in Nueces County
Interested in an eco-friendly excursion and education? Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve is the place to go for a fantastic voyage into exploring Texas’s coastal ecosystems. Family-friendly, this 162-acre park is packed with trails, playgrounds, a trading post, and a learning center with ongoing events and classes. While dogs must be kept on leashes for their safety as well as the safety of the wildlife, the trails are accessible for year-round running, walking, hiking, and birding. In addition, visitors are encouraged to become iNaturalists and help contribute to the wildlife inventory database for the preserve. For more information, visit the City of Corpus Christi’s website.
#7 – Lake Casa Blanca International State Park in Webb County
If you find yourself looking for a way to combine hiking and watersports, be sure to visit Lake Casa Blanca International State Park in Laredo. Minutes from the Mexican border and situated alongside a gorgeous lake featuring striped bass, catfish, and crappie fishing, this park also provides miles of mountain biking and hiking trails. Amateur and professional geologists alike will enjoy seeing rock formations from as far back as the Eocene and Pleistocene epochs. Visitors can download an interactive trail map to enhance the hiking experience and learn more about this park on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website, Lake Casa Blanca.
#8 – Galveston Island State Park in Galveston County
Where can you combine the beach experience with nature trail adventures? Galveston Island State Park. While swimming, fishing, and geocaching are options at this state park, the four miles of trails through the varied habitats are worth the trip all on their own. Boardwalks lead you over dunes and marshes while observation platforms and photo blinds allow you to enjoy the diverse wildlife. In addition, Galveston Island State Park offers a unique type of trail escapade, paddling trails. Three aquatic trails are offered between 2.6 and 4.8 miles in length, and breakwaters help keep these specialty trails wave-free and serene. For more about these unique trail expeditions, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.
#9 – Wildcat Bluff Nature Center in Potter County
With the motto “We believe the outdoors is for everyone, regardless of ability or background. Everyone has a place in nature,” Wildcat Bluff Nature Center in Amarillo may be the most welcoming 640-acre nature center in all of Texas. The trails are open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset and leashed pets are welcome. This panhandle park, formerly a part of the Frying Pan Handle Ranch, has five miles of trails, five acres of paved paths, a dig pit, and a science education building. Visitors can find a trail map and more information at their website.
#10 – Monte Bella Trails Park in Cameron County
Who is up for disc golf and biking? Monte Bella Trails park provides opportunities for both of these enjoyable outdoor activities. With seven miles of mountain biking trails, this beautiful natural park on the outskirts of Brownsville will help keep you active and energized. Tight switchbacks and a warm-up loop encourage bikers to challenge themselves, while the plethora of mesquite trees, cacti, and wildlife will enthrall those looking to move at a somewhat slower pace. Monte Bella Trails also offers a twenty-one–disc golf course perfect for beginners and more advanced players. For more information on this park, visit the City of Brownsville’s website.