If you love the great outdoors, Texas is a fantastic place to explore. The enormous expanse of the Lone Star State covers so many different environments. There are mountains, canyons, lakes, rivers, forests and prairies.
No matter what you want to see, there's a trail that will lead you there. That's what makes hiking in Texas such a great pastime. Sometimes you want to go down a trail just to see where it will lead, but sometimes, it's all about the payoff at the end. Here are six Texas hikes that are worth offer gorgeous views and unique sights at the end.
Window Trail at Big Bend National Park
This is one of the most popular Texas hikes is in Big Bend. The Window Trail starts near the parking lot of the Chisos Mountain Lodge. The trail descends along the canyon formed by Oak Creek to the Window pour-off which is a natural "window" created by rock that beautifully frames the desert views. Given its proximity to the water, this is not a trail you want to hike after heavy rains. However, during dryer times it's absolutely beautiful.
Gorman Falls Trail at Colorado Bend State Park
Deep in the Texas Hill Country you'll find Colorado Bend State Park. The park is named for the bend in the Colorado River that creates a beautiful and lush green forest. The hike to Gorman Falls is only 1.5 miles, but it will take you through some of the most scenic regions of the park. The highlight of the trail comes at the end. After a steep descent you'll view the 60 ft. falls for which the trail is named.
Lighthouse Trail at Palo Duro Canyon
Perhaps the most famous landmark at "the Grand Canyon of Texas", the Lighthouse is a rock outcropping that resembles, well, a lighthouse. The relatively flat hike to the lighthouse is over five miles, and wraps around Canyon Peak near the bottom. Once you reach the Lighthouse, there is a bench to sit on and take in the gorgeous canyon view.
Hamilton Pool in the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve
By now most Texans have heard of Hamilton Pool. It's popular enough that you literally need a reservation to enter the park. Right now they're booked up for more than two weeks in advance. Lately an overgrowth of bacteria has halted swimming in the pool, but that ban might be lifted as soon as July 30. Of course, hiking is still allowed regardless of the state of the water. The trail to Hamilton pool starts at the parking lot at the park's entrance. It descends over a mile downward toward the limestone grotto that makes up the pool. And if you've never seen it in person, the view is not one to be missed.
Pictograph Trails in Hueco Tanks State Park
The fascinating prehistoric pictographs in Hueco Tanks State Park can be found a short drive from El Paso. There are three possible trails leading to the ancient indian cave drawings. You can either take a self-guided tour or sign up for a guided tour. The trails are varying levels of difficulty, but the end result is the same, a view of ancient Texas history.
Devil's Waterhole Trail at Inks Lake State Park
A relatively easy hike through Inks Lake State Park will bring you to the picturesque Devil's Waterhole. The area is surrounded by cliffs that some people choose to dive from (however you dive at your own risk and the park notes that there are hazards in the water). Even if you don't choose to swim or dive, the view of the cliffs and the waterfall is spectacular.