Take a Hike: Texas Bucket List Trails

By Linsey Thut | September 7, 2017

Grapevine Hills Trail – Big Bend National Park 

Take this easy 2-mile trail to see one of the most iconic sights in Big Bend National Park, Balanced Rock — a natural formation with a giant boulder resting upon two towering pillars of rock. This trail is also a good warm up for some of the more rugged trails in the park.

 Old Baldy Summit – Garner State Park

This trail is less than a mile, but at times it can be quite steep as you hike up the famous Old Baldy. Yet, once you summit the mountain, you’ll have an amazing view of the clear Frio River and rolling hills, and miles of lush greenery below. This hike is best taken in the fall, when the park is quite and peaceful, and the fall foliage is in peak color.

Summit Trail – Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

Enchanted Rock is definitely one of the hikes that needs to be on your Texas bucket list. The rocky dome made of pink granite in Fredericksburg, also known as a batholith, was once known to have special powers by Tonkawa Indians. Now, however, it’s mostly known for it’s killer 360 views of the Hill County. Be warned, though, it’s quite a steep hike up this rock.

Santa Elena Canyon Trail – Big Bend National Park

Picture by Ann Wildermuth.

Hop on this trail in Big Bend National Park to see the towering canyon that looks like something out of an Old West film. The hike itself is not too long (only about 1.7 miles round trip) but at times it can be steep and slippery. The trail winds through the canyon, giving you the best spots to take in the 1500 ft.-tall walls that tower over the Rio Grande River.

Guadalupe Peak Hike – Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Of course the highest point in Texas is on this list! This hike is only recommended for the seasoned pro, but for good reason — after all, you will be climbing to the “Top of Texas,” which is roughly 8,749 ft. high! The hike is 8.5 miles round trip, and takes the average hiker up to 8 hours to complete. Yet, just as you’d expect, the views from the top of this peak are incredible.

Maple Trail – Lost Maples State Natural Area

If you don’t think that Texas has beautiful fall foliage, then you clearly haven’t been to Vanderpool. One of the best spots in the state to see fall foliage is on the Maple Trail which is surrounded by the rare Uvalde Bigtooth Maples that are speckled with bright orange and red during the months of October and November. Check the fall foliage reports here.

Lighthouse Trail – Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Picture by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

This hike near Amarillo is a Texas classic. It is a long trail measuring 6 miles round trip, but the views of the iconic 310-foot-high “Lighthouse” rock formation are incredible, and the brave climbers can attempt their way up the steep pathway to the top for the best views of the surrounding canyon. Since this is the most popular trail in the park, it’s best to hike it in the morning, when the temps are lower and there are less people on the trail. Remember to bring lots of water!

Del Rio Rock Paintings – Seminole Canyon State Park

Picture by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Seminole Canyon State Park offers various hiking tours to see the rare rock paintings left by prehistoric peoples over 7000 years ago in the Lower Pecos River Region. Take the hour-long Fate Bell Shelter guided tour to see some of the oldest Native American pictographs in North America. More adventurous hikers can opt for the Presa Day Hike or Upper Canyon Hike; both guided half-day hikes offer exclusive looks at rock art sites in more remote areas.

South Rim Trail – Big Bend National Park

South Rim Trail leads to Emory Peak, the tallest point in Big Bend — towering 7,825 feet high. The 7.5-mile trail is no easy task with the rough trek turning into a straight rock climb at some points and an ever-changing terrain keeping you on your toes, but the stunning view at the top of both Texas and Mexico is surreal and might just be the most rewarding summit you’ll ever take. Find more in-depth tips on tackling this bear of a trail in our Big Bend National Park travel guide.

Four C National Hiking Trail – Davy Crockett National Forest

Get lost in the towering pines of the Davy Crockett National Forest for as long as you want. The Four C Trail meanders through 20 miles of East Texas beauty, passing by lakes, swamps and ponds, with plenty of camp sites along the way. Make it an overnight trip, a full weekend or just take an afternoon hike down part of the trail.

 Clarity Tunnel Trail- Caprock Canyons Trailway

Picture by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

This abandoned 1920’s railroad tunnel that’s open for hiking and filled with Mexican free-tailed bats just might be one of the strangest hikes you’ll take. The rail-turned-trail is a part of the 64-mile-long Caprock Canyon Trailway in the Panhandle, but if a week long hiking trip isn’t something you’re up for, you can still check out the tunnel without hiking the entire trail way. From June to September, you can take a guided hike to the tunnel to watch the bats fly out at dusk, or you can take your own day trip by hiking west about 4.5 miles from the Monk’s Crossing parking lot at mile marker 289. The hike from Monk’s Crossing is about a 9-mile round trip, and the trail through the tunnel is about 1/8 mile. Be sure to get a permit for the trail way at Caprock Canyons State Park, bring lots of water and be mindful of the bats above your head when you’re in the tunnel.

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