Austin is a city famous for its food, live music scene, and friendly atmosphere. Although many people don't associate the city with natural beauty, there are a number of gorgeous parks and hiking trails in the area. Here are five of the best trails to check out if you're looking to get away from the city for a few hours.

River Place Nature Trail

The River Place Nature Trail offers a 5.5-mile round trip hike. It's a great spot for those looking for a challenging hike that lets you enjoy some impressive scenery. The trail is known for having some steep inclines, but there are some steps and stairways to help you along your ascent. Along the way, you'll pass by several streams and small waterfalls. This trail is located near the River Place neighborhood with a trailhead on Big View Drive.

Turkey Creek Trail

Located in one of Austin's largest parks, the Turkey Creek Trail offers a short but fun hike that passes through some beautiful wooded areas. The trail is a 2.5-mile loop, and although it has a few steep and rock spots, it's a fairly easy hike. You'll need to cross over the creek bed several times, however, so you may end up getting your feet wet during the rainy months. The trail can be found in Emma Long Park. The park charges an admission fee, but the trail itself is free. They allow off-leash dogs.

Mayfield Nature Preserve

The Mayfield Nature Preserve is a popular hiking destination for families and dog owners. With fairly flat and gentle trails, this is a great option if you're looking for a relaxing hike that will allow you to unwind in nature. The preserve, which covers 24 acres, is home to the Mayfield-Gutsch Estate, where peacocks roam the grounds. Along the trail, you'll also find lily-covered ponds and a dock that overlooks Lake Austin.

Barton Creek Greenbelt

With more than 12 miles of trails, Barton Creek Greenbelt is one of Austin's most famous destinations for hiking, biking, rock climbing, and swimming. The main trail stretches 7 miles, with paths branching off if you want to explore. There are several swimming holes located along the creek, which sometimes get crowded during the warmer months. The main trailhead for Barton Creek Greenbelt is located along Barton Springs Road, but there are several other access points nearby, most of which offer street parking.

McKinney Falls State Park

East of downtown Austin, you'll find McKinney Falls State Park, a popular spot for hiking and biking that is conveniently close to the city. This park has three trails to choose from, all of which offer different levels of difficulty. Choose the Homestead Trail if you want to check out the ruins of a stone house and gristmill that belonged to Thomas McKinney. The Rock Shelter Trail, which is about half a mile long, will take you through some secluded woodland areas. Although long, the Onion Creek Trail is paved and fairly flat, making it suitable for families with strollers and wheelchair users.

Posted by Shane White on
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