Hiking. It’s what been saving our sanity the most during these past few months of craziness. Luckily, most places have opened back up (although some require reservations), and we can once again access the most beautiful places Austin has to offer.
Here are my family’s top five favorite hikes in Austin (and beyond). Please remember to use caution and be respectful of everyone’s space while outside hiking. Don’t keep valuables inside your car, and always pack up whatever you bring in!
#5 River Place Nature Trail
River Place Nature Trail is now open and reservations are not required. On weekdays, admission is free. On weekends and holidays, admission is $10 per hiker age 13 and up, and $10 per dog. No cash accepted. We love this hike because of how challenging it is. It’s right along the water, as long as you go after there’s been a good rain. It starts off easier and more kid-friendly, but we always turn around once it gets too difficult for the kids to do all the steps and steep inclines. Please keep your dogs leashed on this hike! 8820 Big View Dr, Austin.
#4 Mayfield Nature Preserve
Mayfield is open and admission is free! This is the hike that my kids request to do the most. Between the peacocks, the big hill, and the water, we could spend hours here! It’s also the place I usually recommend the most to people who come and visit Austin. The location is great—it’s right next door to Laguna Gloria (outdoor art museum) and also right by Mt. Bonnell (another great hike)! Please leave your pets at home for this hike. 3505 W 35th St, Austin.
#3 Bull Creek
Bull Creek was the first place we hiked when we moved here. There are three main access points to the greenbelt, and each one has so much to offer! Definitely wear your water hiking shoes when you come here, but use caution if you decide to swim, as the water quality isn’t always safe. Dogs are welcome here (signs say they should be leashed but many are not). Bull Creek District Park: 6701 Lakewood Dr, Austin. Lower Bull Creek Greenbelt: 5343 Old Spicewood Springs Rd, Austin. Upper Bull Creek Greenbelt: 6958 Old Spicewood Springs Rd, Austin.
#2 Barton Creek Greenbelt
Gus Fruh, Twin Falls, Sculpture Falls. Those are my top 3 favorite places to go while hiking the greenbelt. This place can get crowded as it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Austin and there is almost always some partying happening here on weekends. Use caution and adhere to all social distancing protocols that are still in place. Reservations are currently required and can be made online or by phone at 512-974-6797. Dogs are welcome. 3753 S Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin.
#1 Pedernales Falls State Park
Pedernales Falls is my top pick because of how expansive it is and how much there is to do there! When you first arrive, you’ll want to check out the falls, but you can not swim there. The swimming area is in a different spot—you have to drive over and then hike down (not stroller-friendly; definitely bring a baby carrier). There are places along the river to float/tube, swim, or wade. Please be careful when the current is strong! You can mountain bike, fish, and camp here as well. Don’t forget to bring a picnic, water, and sunscreen. They charge $6/adult. Reservations are required. Currently, the park is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. 2585 Park Road 6026, Johnson City.
If you’re looking for more, check out these great local hikes!