Head out into nature and enjoy one of these 5 awesome hiking spots in Austin this weekend. I’ll be sure to note which Austin hiking trails are dog-friendly and kid-friendly.
Grab your hiking shoes and a water bottle, text a few friends, and head out into nature for a weekend hike in Austin! We’re lucky to have lots of beautifully preserved nature trails within city limits, and I’m sharing 5 of the best hiking spots in Austin with you today. I tried to include a wide variety, from kid-friendly/dog-friendly easy trails, to more strenuous hiking trails for those who want a powerful workout.
A quick note: Austin is an active city, and we love our hiking trails! All of these trails can get a bit crowded on the weekends…that’s just the reality of living in a highly populated city. If you want a more serene hiking experience, see if you can sneak away for a weekday afternoon hike. If you enjoy being around lots of people, hit the trails on the weekends!
1. Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve: Easy Hiking in Austin
Cost: free, donations accepted
Parking: yes, right by the entrance
Dogs allowed: no
Length: 2.5 miles
Wild Basin is a 227 acre nature preserve that hikers can access from the 360 loop. (See the map at the top of the page.) It’s a slightly hilly 2.5 mile that runs across a creek. There’s even a little waterfall sighting! It’s a teeny-tiny waterfall, but it’s still refreshing. This is a pretty easy hike that has several different loops and paths, so you could just do a 1/2 mile if you’re hiking with very young kids. For reference, I did this hike on the day I went into labor, and it was just fine. It’s an easy, fun hiking trail in Austin!
2. River Place Nature Trail: Difficult Hiking in Austin
Cost: free, $10 donation recommended
Parking: yes, plenty of parking on the street at trailhead
Dogs allowed: yes, on-leash
Length: 4.6 miles out-and-back
This is the Austin hiking trail for you if you want something a bit more challenging! There are lots of stairs and elevation gain on the River Place Trail; some hikers will go out-and-back 2X for an even more challenging hike. If you’re not up for a long hike, there’s the Little Fern portion of the trail; it’s an easy .5 mile hike, which I’ve done at a slow pace while wearing my baby in a baby wrap, and it would be perfect for little kids. If you’re up for the longer trail, pack some water and comfy walking shoes, and get ready for a quad workout!
3. Blunn Creek Nature Preserve: A Quick Nature Escape
Parking: yes, along St. Edward’s Drive
Dog allowed: no
Length: 1.5 miles
If you’re tired of sitting in an office building and staring at a screen and you want to take a break and enjoy some time in nature, the Blunn Creek loop is perfect. It’s right next to St. Edward’s University (on South Congress, close to downtown) easy to find, and quiet on the weekdays. Truly a little retreat right in the middle of the city! This trail is honestly so quick and short, I can hardly call it a hiking trail at all…it’s more of a casual stroll. There is a very small hill which provides a view of St. Edward’s beautiful campus, but the rest of the Blunn Creek loop is super quick and easy. Do you have 15 minutes and you want to refresh your soul? Stop by Blunn Creek Nature Preserve.
4. Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail
Parking: yes, scattered around the trail in various spots
Dog allowed: yes, on-leash
Length: 10 miles maximum, but lots of shorter options
This is the big, central walking path in Austin that goes around Lady Bird Lake, and if you’ve been in Austin for at least 5 seconds you’ve probably been here. It’s very popular because it’s beautifully maintained, right next to downtown, has bathrooms and water fountains and parking, and offers customizable lengths depending on which bridge you use to cross the lake. Most of the trail is packed dirt, but parts of it are paved. It’s great for running, walking/chatting, and dogs! And although it is called a hike and “bike” trail, I wouldn’t recommend it for biking because it’s so crowded.
5. The Greenbelt
Parking: yes, parking lot at entrance
Dog-friendly: yes, on-leash
Length: 13.8 miles out-and-back (but lots of shorter options)
There are lots of options for parking, but my two favorites are parking right by Mopac (map to parking here) and hiking past Twin Falls/Sculpture Falls, or parking right by Taco Deli on Barton Skyway (map here) and entering the greenbelt for an out-and-back hike, and finishing it up with some breakfast tacos. The greenbelt is one of my favorite places to do trail running on the weekdays (not on the weekends…too crowded) and I love bringing visitors here because it’s right in the middle of the city and accessible from multiple entrances.
Other favorite hiking spots in Austin:
McKinney Falls State Park: lots of beautiful hiking, small waterfalls, and camping! There is a small entrance fee, and weekends can get crowded and sometimes they reach capacity, so use the save the day online reservation if you have a specific date in mind you want to visit.
Mount Bonnel: It’s hardly a “hike” because it’s a 5 minute climb up some stairs and then you’ve arrive, but the view from Mount Bonnel can’t be beat. This is absolutely kid-friendly! I always see lots of kids at the top climbing around on the rocks and having a blast.
Mayfield Preserve: Again, it’s not much of a hike, but this is a beautiful nature retreat that’s super fun because of all of the peacocks wandering around. Kids are mesmerized by the beautiful animals, and there’s a well-maintained and easy hike so you can get some steps in.