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The best hikes outside of Austin, Texas

  • Mar 26, 2018

As the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin has a lot to offer in the area of nightlife. But once you've toured the dive bars and clubs to find the best melodies, lace up your sneakers and head outside because this area of Texas offers lots of great hiking too. Beyond the city limits you'll find yourself immersed in the unique and idyllic Texan scenery that fills the many state parks, falls and preserves.

Walnut Creek Trail 
Stretching into a 15-mile loop, the top of the woods at Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park is a great place for hikers of all skill levels, 365 Things Austin explained. The established 1.3-mile trail at the beginning is great for those just looking for a light walk. However, if you want to get off the beaten path it doesn't take long to get there. Many of the trails are unmarked, giving you the freedom to explore the rocky creek area at your pleasure. Be sure to wear your Pro Trek WPRW3510Y-8, fully equipped with digital compass, to keep you on the right trails.

Be sure to note that as a hiker, you'll be joined by lots of dogs and some mountain bikers - two things this area is known for. This hiking spot is one of the closet to the city center.

Westcave Preserve
For those who are looking for true natural beauty, in addition to a great trekking area, consider a trip to Westcave Preserve some 45 minutes from Austin, according to the Culture Trip. Here is where you'll be gifted with the wonders of Hamilton Pool, a lush green area of caves and falls that are excellent for exploring. It's important to note that you will need a tour guide to access this part of the preserve as it is strictly protected.

The hike, of moderate to difficult level, takes an average of two hours round trip.

Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve
Have you ever caught a glimpse of a golden-cheeked warbler? If not, the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve just west of the city is the best place to spot one, according to the Culture Map Austin. Filled with native plants and animals, these trails are great for those with a passion for spotting wildlife. The 2.5-mile trail is relatively easy, though, looping paths allow for longer hikes for all those interested. A couple dollars donation is suggested at the entrance of this preserve, noted the source. 

Barton Creek Greenbelt
One of the biggest hiking areas in the Austin area, the Greenbelt offers a wide variety of trails and mountain biking routes, Texas Hill Country explained. Depending on which part of the Greenbelt you try to tackle, you can hike with ease or in places that require a bit more effort. Elevation varies on the trails and you can get some really great views at some of the lookouts. There are numerous areas to start your hike into this park but the most efficient is the Barton Springs Pool parking lot.

St. Edwards Park
Many hikers love to be rewarded with a breathtaking view at the summit. If you're one of these people - take the trail to the head of St. Edwards Park in time for sundown. According to 365 Things Austin, the views are incredible and the calm and serenity you'll feel at the top is unmatched: It's the perfect escape from the busy city life. The trails are rocky and filled with gravel so take caution. Loops vary from two to four miles, depending which direction you choose. 

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge
As the Culture Map Austin explained, bird watchers, photographers and hikers alike will all love this sprawling area of land. Native juniper and oak trees dot the landscape that's filled with local birds and animals. There are a number of trail heads, all that can be accessed from various parts of the refuge, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. You can get lost within the more than 7 miles of trails, each that offer great opportunities for spotting wildlife. Some of these routes include the Shinoak Trail, Rimrock Trail and the Pond & Prairie Trail. Some routes like the Shin Oak offer an observation deck, though it's important to note it's only open sunrise to sunset.

Get your Texas hiking on today at any one of these incredible trails.

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