Bull Creek District Park and Greenbelt
Just 30 minutes northwest of Austin is Bull Creek; you’ll find this is one of the most scenic greenbelts near Austin. The park’s history alone is worth the hike. Bull Creek dates back to the prehistoric ages, so stay on the lookout for any fossils. Despite the trail’s fairly short duration it’s a great place to get a hike in, take in some history, and have a swim. During the summer you can find people barbecuing and if there’s been a good amount of rain, expect mini waterfalls along your hike and possibly a natural water slide.
Bastrop State Park
Bastrop State park is about 30 minutes southeast of Austin; in 2015 the park underwent major destruction and almost entirely burnt down in a forest fire. This in itself is something to see as you witness the resilience of nature and the regrowth of trees and other vegetation. You can hike the 7 mile trail and later spend the night camping in one of their historic or regular cabin sights.
The Canyonlands Hiking Trail in Lakeway TX
In Lakeway, Texas just west of Austin you can find various trails that will take you through canyons, but The Canyonlands Hiking Trail is arguably the best. The two-mile hike is rugged, taking you through creeks and leading down the hill through country canyons. You’ll be surrounded by cedar and oak trees. Some areas prove steep and rocky so wear sturdy shoes, and elevation changes are also frequent. This hike is short, but challenging and always rewarding.
Chalk Ridge Falls Park
Located near Belton, Texas on Stillhouse Hollow Lake an hour north of Austin is Chalk Ridge Falls Park. A great place to enjoy a hike and relax in the falls afterward, the trail is rated at moderate difficulty. The best way to enjoy this park is by taking the side trails – besides less foot traffic, the side trails offer streams and natural waterfalls. A truly great place to hike for everyone.
Westcave Preserve is a natural wonder located 45 minutes west of downtown Austin. Located near the well-known and gorgeous Hamilton Pool, here you’ll find cave formations, waterfalls, and deep pulls among breathtaking greenery. Because this area is highly protected they only allow guided tours, which usually take just under 2 hours to complete. The tour guides are extremely knowledgable, making the hike that much more enjoyable. Some parts will be steep with uneven terrain, but generally the hike is moderate in difficulty.
Longhorn Cavern State park
These historical caverns lie just 1.5 hours northwest of Austin. This is a limestone cave formed from the river that lay beneath the cavern thousands of years ago. Over the years the cavern has taken on many different dwellings, from a Native American dwelling to a speakeasy during the prohibition period. It’s also a great way to escape the Texas heat with temperatures in the cave always remaining cool, and offers a great workout whilst learning some immensely interesting Texas history.