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By Samantha McCormack | April 18, 2017 | Lifestyle
The beauty of Austin’s great outdoors tends to get lost within the bustle of the big city—but outside the city limits lie scenic trails to enjoy all of nature's glory. From picnic areas and waterfalls to unobstructed views of the city, these six hiking locations are guaranteed to leave you breathless (literally).
Escape the city crowds by taking a leisurely day trip to McKinney Falls State Park, located just 13 miles from the state Capitol. There, you can take in the sweet sounds of Onion Creek’s water trickling over the limestone ledges, while you make your way through the Hill Country woods. Cool off post-hike with a quick dip in the creek, or stay overnight at one of the 81 campsites if you’re not ready to depart from the wilderness.
With warm weather quickly approaching, this 32-square mile terrain is the perfect place to bask in the sun and admire stunning scenic views. Trek up Bull Creek Greenbelt Trail, which spans almost three miles alongside an Austin river (you can bring your furry friends, too). It includes a few waterfalls, plus swimming and fishing areas if you’re feeling adventurous.
Any outdoors enthusiast is guaranteed to favor this wildlife preserve's 2.5 miles of rugged hiking trails, set deep inside the Hill Country woodlands. For vistas like no other, opt for a sunset hike around the two-mile outer loop that leads to a waterfall and picturesque overlook. Pro tip: Keep an eye out for the rare Golden-cheeked Warbler.
Experience the peak of Austin 775 feet in the air on top of Mount Bonnell, where you can enjoy unique views of the sweeping city skyline. Although this park is known to be one of the city’s hottest tourist spots, it can also be a peaceful oasis for Austinites looking to relax. According to local legend, couples are destined to fall in love on their first visit, making this an ideal spot to take your significant other.
If your pooches love splashing around in the water and running free, then this off-leash hiking trail is the perfect summer destination. Seek out this gem along Lake Austin at Emma Long Metropolitan Park, tucked in the northwest part of the city. Known for its shady route, you and your canine can finally break away from the scorching Texan sun.
This beautiful spot in the River Place neighborhood boasts three diverse hiking trails for nature lovers craving a challenge. Venture to the Canyon Trail for a 2,736 step climb, which features limestone ledges, mossy cliffs, and an intense elevation change. Add some zen to your hike by taking the Little Fern, a path covered in vibrant greenery, and full of picnic opportunities off the trail. Don't forget the Panther Hollow Trail, the longest of the three beginning at a boardwalk overlooking the pond.
photography via facebook.com/mckinney-falls-state-park