Texas Travel

The Texas Hiking Trail Bucket List

By Peter Simek 11.23.20

With 268,597 square miles of landscape to explore, Texas is a hiker’s dream. One brave hiker has even trekked all the way around Texas. Texas’ best hiking trails offer access to scenic mountains, deserts, forests, coastline, underground caverns, and spectacular canyons. The best part is that no matter your fitness level, age, or tolerance for risk and adventure, there is always somewhere new and inspiring to explore.

Here are five Texas hiking trails everyone should add to their bucket list.

1. Santa Elena Canyon

Where: Big Bend National Park
Why: With trails like South Rim, Window, Lost Mine, Emory Peak, and Grapevine Hills, you could spend your whole life exploring Big Bend and barely scratch the surface of this incredible natural wonder. But if there’s one hike that every Texan must conquer, it’s the trail that runs along the base of Santa Elena Canyon. The trail begins just north of the Rio Grande and leads hikers through a muddy tributary before crossing over a small ridge and descending into the canyon. Manageable for all ages and fitness levels, this trail hugs the base of one of the dramatic sights in Texas: the massive sheer cliff walls of Santa Elena Canyon.

palo duro texas hiking trail

2. The Lighthouse

Where: Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Why: The United States’ largest canyon after the Grand Canyon cuts a massive gash through the high plains of the Panhandle. One of the best ways to explore this natural marvel is to hike the trail to The Lighthouse, a towering, naturally formed limestone rock formation known as a hoodoo, or fairy chimney. The trail winds through the base of the canyon and leads hikers to this incredible spot that offers amazing views of the wide stretch of Palo Duro.

Enchanted Rock Texas Hiking Trail

3. Enchanted Rock Summit

Where: Enchanted Rock Natural State Area
Why: Not for the fainthearted, the highlight of the climb up Enchanted Rock comes during the trail’s final few hundred yards as it leaves the valley floor and zigzags across the sheer granite face of this one-of-a-kind rock formation. The reward when you reach the top is an unparalleled view across the heart of Texas Hill Country.

Guadalupe Peak Texas Hiking Trail

4. Guadalupe Peak

Where: Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Why: This 8.4-mile trail rises 3,000 feet to the highest point in the state of Texas. Once you make it to the top of Guadalupe Peak, you can read and sign the Guadalupe Peak register, which keeps track of everyone who has conquered this Texas hiking trail rite of passage.

Davy Crockett Texas Hiking Trail

5. Four C Hiking Trail

Where: Davy Crockett National Forest
Why: This 20-mile trail offers hikers one of the few multiday backpacking adventures outside of the Big Bend region, though the relatively flat terrain is easy to manage. The Four C trail cuts through the national forest and winds through the enchanting East Texas woods, from Neches Bluff to Ratcliff Lake.

If you’re looking for a walking pilgrimage that may take weeks (or months) to complete, you might be interested in the Lone Star Trail, the longest wilderness footpath in Texas.

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