5 BEST Hiking Trails in Austin for Cheap Therapy and Wildflowers

Taking a mid-day break to hike a nature trail in Austin TX is my cheap therapy. I think only of the  exact moment I am in, walking the trail, exploring nature. Austin hiking trails are busiest during spring and fall when the weather is more favorable for outdoor activities. But you can enjoy most of the hiking spots in Austin year round.

In this post I share with you five of the best places for hiking in Austin. All of these parks are free to visit and make for the perfect escape on your own or as a family outing with the kids. Or your favorite furball family!

Consider taking time for yourself each day or at least a few times per week to enjoy the nature trails in Austin. You get to enjoy some fresh air and get some exercise. Walking or hiking helps to clear the mind and do a psychological reset.

 

Barton Springs Greenbelt - a favorite for kayaking, swimming, and hiking in Austin

 

5 BEST Austin Hiking Trails

Barton Springs Greenbelt

Not only are there miles of hiking trails but you can also go swimming, climbing, and biking at Barton Springs Greenbelt in Austin. The famous Barton Springs Pool is in the greenbelt, it’s a popular swimming hole in Austin, but not the largest natural spring swimming pool.

Here are 6 places to access the Greenbelt in Austin:

  • 2201 Barton Springs Road – main trailhead
  • 1601 Spyglass Drive – Campbell’s Hole west entrance
  • 2010 Homedale Drive – Campbell’s Hole east entrance
  • 2642 Barton Hills Drive – Gus Fruh
  • 3918 South Mopac Expressway (Mopac or Loop 1) – Gains Creek and Twin Falls
  • 1710 Camp Craft Road – Hill of Life and Sculpture Falls

 

Bull Creek Park

6701 Lakewood Drive

Bull Creek Park is a large park created in 1971 and it’s super popular with dog owners According to the signage at the park dogs must be on leash at all times. That doesn’t happen. Almost every dog owner lets their mutt run amok. I don’t mind but just letting you know in case you do mind.

There are two parking areas at Bull Creek, the official paved parking lot and another one close to Spicewood Spring Drive.

 

Bull Creek Park is among the favorite Austin hiking trails that are dog friendly

Bull Creek Park is among the favorite Austin hiking trails that are dog friendly

 

Evening primrose are common along Bull Creek in NW Austin TX

Pastel pink evening primrose are common along Bull Creek

 

Visit Bull Creek Park during the weekdays to avoid the crowds. Hiking at Bull Creek Park in northwest Austin recently I lost all track of time. I had planned to spend a half hour or so enjoying a quick hike along Bull Creek before grabbing some lunch and heading off to my afternoon appointment.

 

Tangle of Spiderwort blooms and buds along Bull Creek Hiking Trail in NW Austin TX

Tangle of Spiderwort blooms and buds along Bull Creek Hiking Trail

 

Dog friendly hiking trails in Austin include Bull Creek Park in NW Austin

Alice the happy little trail dog at Bull Creek Park

 

St Edwards Park

7301 Spicewood Springs Rd

St Edwards Park is an 80-acre park in northwest Austin with a swimming hole and lots of bluebonnets in the spring. Starting as early as late February and lasting through April you can see swaths of bluebonnets around Austin. You can bring your dog to St Edwards Park.

 

Tiny landscape of moss - St Edwards Park in NW Austin

Moss landscape at St Edwards Park in NW Austin

 

I see an amazing assortment of gorgeous colorful wildflowers along the hiking trails throughout the year. Springtime is my favorite time of year because the days are starting to get longer and the weather is generally perfect for hiking.

And the bluebonnets are blooming in Austin during spring.

 

Bluebonnets along hiking trail at St Edwards Park in NW Austin

Bluebonnets along hiking trail at St Edwards Park

 

Yellow wildflowers at St Edwards park in NW Austin

Yellow wildflowers at St Edwards park in NW Austin

 

Trail along St Edwards Park in NW Austin TX

St Edwards Park Trail

 

Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve

3505 W 35th Street

Located in northwest Austin but much more central than Bull Creek or St Edwards, Mayfield is also known as the peacock park in Austin. Because of the peafowl live at the park and roam freely you are not allowed to bring dogs to Mayfield.

Enjoy the hiking trails at Mayfield that lead to Lake Austin and wander the grounds to see the gardens. Remember to look up in the live oak trees for peacocks, they enjoy resting on the branches.

READ now: Oldest Oak Tree in Texas – The Big Tree – Goose Island State Park

 

Peacock in the gardens of Mayfield Park in Austin TX

Peacock in the gardens of Mayfield Park

 

Walking along the trails at Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve one hears the rustling of the leaves as lizards dash from place to place. When I see a lizard I find that if I stand still they will often remain motionless as well – allowing me to observe them more carefully.

 

Spiny Lizard at Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve in central Austin

Spiny Lizard at Mayfield Park in central Austin

 

I’ve seen some interesting insects while hiking the nature trails and been bitten by quite a few – the tiny creatures have the ability to sneak up on us humans so easily! I prefer the more docile ones – rolly polly is just a cute little insect that never hurts anyone.

 

Happy little rolly polly insect on a log - hiking and nature trails in Austin TX

Rolly polly insect on a log

 

Enjoying the fresh air and the beauty of nature while getting a little exercise is my favorite outdoor activity in Austin. Hiking is meditative. Getting lost in the moment on a hiking trail is the perfect cheap therapy.

 

Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail

Downtown Austin – 4.5 mile loop around Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake is not a lake but you’ll get over that soon enough. It’s a beautiful and popular hiking and biking trail in the heart of downtown Austin.

Dogs are allowed at Lady Bird Lake but must be kept on leash.

Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail is the place to go enjoy the outdoors in the middle of the city. Fragrant wisteria vines show off their colorful mauve blooms during springtime in Austin.

 

Wisteria bloom in spring - Lady Bird Lake - Austin TX

Beautifully fragrant Wisteria at Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail in downtown Austin

 

Hiking around Lady Bird Lake - railroad bridge and downtown skyline of Austin Texas

Railroad bridge and view of downtown Austin skyline

 

Something that cannot be properly conveyed in words or pictures is the glorious fragrance of certain flowers, the fresh scent of the woods, the sound of the birds singing, and the relaxing tone of the water.

Pure Zen.

You can download a map of Austin parks here and find your own favorite hiking spots in Austin.

What is your favorite hiking trail in Austin?

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 4 of living a nomadic life, roadtripping around the USA and Canada and writing about her experiences. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

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