Here are eight ways to soak up high-desert views, natural wonders, and beautiful trails in the Lone Star State.
#1: Amarillo, TX: Lighthouse Trail (Hiking)
Hike 5.75 miles through Palo Duro Canyon State Park where sandstone buttes soar above the Grand Canyon of Texas. The payoff? Front-row sights of the 300-foot-tall spire known as the Lighthouse. Tip: Go on a weekday for quiet trails.
#2: Wilderness Ridge-Guadaloupe Mountains National Park (Hiking)
Permian Reef Geology Trail on Wilderness Ridge from McKittrick Canyon ranger station to the turnstile at the Texas-New Mexico border. Length ~10 miles out and back. Day trip or overnight.
#3:Big Bend Ranch State Park, TX: Closed Canyon (Hiking)
Descend into Closed Canyon's slot for a 1.4-mile round-trip trek from Big Bend's scenic River Road toward the Mexican border and the raging Rio Grande.
#4: Austin - Walnut Creek Metro Park (Mountain Biking)
This urban park feels a million miles from Austin. Use this 4.5-mile loop as an intro to more than 11 miles of beginner- and intermediate-level trails on the city’s north side.
#5: Austin - North Town Tour (Road Biking)
Sample north Austin—and stretch your legs climbing Mt. Bonnell—on this easy 14-mile loop that hits several cultural highlights and leaves time for a nap on the capitol lawn.
#6: Dallas - Duck Pond Trail (Hiking)
Escape busy Dallas. This 3.2-mile out-and-back pierces the heart of Cedar Hills State Park and provides a quick getaway into Texas hill country.
#7: Weatherford - The Peach Pedal Ride (Road Biking)
This is one of the most challenging routes in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The course is all rolling hills with virtually no flat section. In this ride, you are either going up or going down. you are either going up or down. The hills range from 2% to 9% grade but they are fairly short in distance, the longest hill is only about mile or 2 long.
#8: Beaumont - Turkey Creek Trail (Hiking)
Feast your eyes on Big Thicket National Preserve's longest trail--and east Texas carnivore country. This easy 15-mile point-to point hosts hikers, alligators and insect-eating pitcher plants, too.