Texas is full of such different and diverse landscapes, each with its own undeniable beauty. It's a great place for any adventurer to go hike, bike, or hit the river. Grant and I might be biased because it is our home state, but we believe it's a great one.
Black Widow Adventures is here to share with you all of our favourite places to get out and enjoy nature. We believe that these are some of the best gems the Lone Star state has to offer and if you're a fellow adventurer, you need to have them on your bucket list.
1. Colorado Bend State Park
Dallas's favourite park! This secluded and rocky hidden gem of the hill country has much to offer, from 35 miles of hiking and biking trails, guided cave tours, and the infamous 70-foot, spring-fed, phenomenal waterfall, Gorman Falls.
The campsites are some of my favourites to camp in as well. If you're not wanting to backpack in, but still want the privacy of being nestled in the trees while camping, this is the park for you. Last time we were here we had the most perfect campsite right on the river. Grant woke up early and went fishing while I slept in but was woken up by deer in the campsite. Awesome, huh?
Each time I visit this park I am always met with wildlife such as deer, armadillos, and even a few coyotes!
If you haven't picked up on this yet, we are avid hikers and love escaping to the trails. Colorado Bend presents some incredible but sometimes challenging hiking trails with each one leading to astonishing views!
A Peek at Gormal Falls
Pictures DO NOT Do it Justice
The Gorman Falls trail is obviously a must-see being one of the reasons people are drawn to this park. It is a bit more challenging 1.5 miles of very rocky and uneven terrain and ending with a steep, slippery, limestone slope to get down to the falls. But holy crap the views!! You won't be disappointed. I love packing a lunch and maybe my hammock and a good book when tackling the trail. If you're going to work so hard to make it there, you might as well stay and enjoy it longer, right?
Views from the Slide Trail
The Slide Trail is another one that takes you to a gorgeous location. 2.2 miles of the moderate trail leads to you to an overlook of the Colorado River which runs alongside the park. This is another place I could sit and hang out for a while. We like to combine the Slide Trail and Gorman Falls Trail into a loop for one hike. Two great views while navigating through the park. Winning! Just make sure you pack your map with you.
There are many more miles of amazing trails to hit, but these two we hike on each time we visit because of their immense beauty.
2. Palo Duro Canyon State Park
I had never heard of this park until February because it is so far north of where we were living in Austin, but holy crap, it is a magnificent park!
This park is known as the Grand Cayon of Texas and at first glance, you will understand why. We cruised down into the park just before sundown and the view of the sun resting on the canyon rim was incredible! I was in awe!! It is the second-largest canyon in the country and it is tucked away in the great state of Texas.
Visit and enjoy 30 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Beware there is little tree cover in most of the park so bring plenty of water and sunscreen. We visited in the wintertime and were still warm and got sunburns. Nevertheless, we absolutely loved the park and look forward to returning soon!
We tent camped here but we did see the RV spots and they are quite nice! Both types of camping are spread out and separated by brush. We were greeted by wild turkey in the camp daily which was awesome to watch them gobble about while enjoying your morning coffee.
While staying in the park, we only had one full day so we decided to spend it hiking. We braved the Lighthouse trail which was 5.6 miles round-trip all in the direct sun. The trail itself was an easy trek but bring a lot of water, even in the winter! But how where the views? Astounding!!
You're surrounded by a beautiful red rock canyon which leads to the Lighthouse. The symbol of the park itself! It is a giant rock formation that resembles a massive lighthouse. You can even climb to the top of it and see for miles if you are brave enough!
Yep. I climbed on top of the Lighthouse. I was proud.
We very much enjoyed Palo Duro Canyon State Park and we were thankful to have found it.
3. Pedernales Falls State Park
Grant's favourite park and the location of our first date!
Fun BWA Fact: This was our first picture from our first date.
Just outside of Austin is Pedernales Falls State Park. Know for the falls obviously (duh, Dallas, it's in the name for a reason) but that is only one beauty this park has to offer.
I actually don't even visit the falls anymore since that is where most of the people are going to be. Nothing wrong with that but we love to explore and that we have done in this park. Since it was so close to our home, we would visit frequently and explore a different area each time.
When visiting Pedernales, you can enjoy hiking, biking, and equestrian trails or hit the river to swim, tube, or kayak. All the things are possible in this wonderful state park.
In my opinion, the Twin Falls Trail is the best area because of its awe-inspiring views. It's only .5 miles around the loop, however, so I like to combine trails that ultimately lead to the falls. Pack a lunch and hang out here after your multi-trail hike.
This picture was taken at the Twin Falls
4. Hamilton Pools Preserve
The picture does not do it justice!
Also, nestled just outside of Austin (I see a trend here) is Hamilton Pools Preserve, a nature preserve with one of the most Instagram worthy views in the state.
Since this is a nature preserve and not a state park, they are very strict on new pets allowed to keep the protected land beautiful.
Depending on what time of year it is, you need a reservation in order to view the park since it is a small piece of heaven. Another variable is if you will be able to swim. Some times of the year the bacteria level in the water is too high to be able to safely swim, however, you can still go enjoy the parks beauty.
There are two hikes you can take in the preserve. You can take about a mile trek to the lake, or a .5 mile stroll to the pools. I recommend you hike to the lake first to view all the beautiful vegetation, stream, and many species of birds before heading to the pools. This way you get to see all of it and you'll better appreciate its nature.
This is a very small area to explore but I truly believe it is worth the journey to hike this gorgeous preserve.
5. Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway
Willie's favourite park!
This park is about an hour west of Fort Worth and worth the drive, especially if you have doggos you want to take with you!
You can play in the lake, hike, bike, bring your horses, or even climb. Their hiking trails aren't the longest (12.8 miles total) but they're perfect to bring your dog to play year-round because of their great tree cover. No overheating pups for you!
We enjoying hiking around the lake for its pleasant views and a cool breeze from the water.
It's always a good time when we venture to Lake Mineral Wells State Park.
6. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
This picture was taken from Walnut Springs Trail
Yes, it's in a song. I don't know about you but Josh Abbott Band's song, My Texas, was the first time I had ever heard of Enchanted Rock. Of course, I had to visit and see what all the hype was about and I was not disappointed.
The most popular hike and the main attraction are hiking to the top of the giant pink granite dome in the centre of the park; THE enchanted rock, if you will. This trail is known as the Summit Trail. Only .8 of a mile long but with its steep incline and no tree cover, it can be quite difficult, particularly in the summertime. This is the most popular trail in the park because who wouldn't want to climb to the top of a giant rock? The feeling of accomplishment is amazing.
What do we like to hike when we visit Enchanted Rock? We love to make our own loop cutting through 4 different trails. In our opinion, it's the best views in the park. Yes, hiking to the summit is great in the winter, but if you want to avoid the heat, or cut through more adventurous terrain, follow our favourite loop.
Hike in starting on the Summit Trail but turn left when you reach the Echo Canyon Trail. You'll then pick up the Base Trail to the right and then Turkey Pass Trail. Once you reach the frog pond, you'll pick up the Frontside Trail which will bring you back to the parking lot in which you started.
This is our favourite route to take. Obviously have a map with you to help navigate the trails. Either download the map to your phone or pick one up at the visitor centre when you check in to the park.
Unfortunately, this isn't the best park to bring your pets. Many of the trails prohibit pets due to fragile natural ecosystems and simply because the rocky trails burn your doggie's paws.
We have never camped here but their campsites look pretty nice and semi-spread out.
7. Big Bend National Park
Did I save the best for last? Possibly. There is no doubt that Big Bend is one of the most spectacular places in the entire state of Texas. You'll be in awe when you visit the 800,000-acre park full of diverse landscape.
You need a few days to explore the park because of it's massive size. You won't want to miss a thing when you visit Big Bend National Park.
The Chisos Mountains are probably the most popular destination within the park for a few great reasons. First, it's one of the only places with tree cover and as we all know Texas can get very hot in the summertime. Second, but most obvious, is the astounding views! Many people don't realize there are actual mountains in Texas, bears and mountain lions are proof enough for me. The Chisos Mountains are habituated with them and bears are frequently seen in the campsites surrounding this area.
The Emery Peak Trail is probably the most popular, taking you up to the highest peak in the park. We have hiked this area and absolutely loved it! The last time we were hiking it, it snowed! A rare sighting in Big Bend.
This picture was taken from the Dog Canyon Trail
Another area that we love to explore is around Dog Canyon Trail. This is around the North East side of the park. This is a nice easy, flat trail that takes you back through a beautiful dried up river bed. There is much to explore through the trail. We very much enjoy this hike in the evening. You'll catch the sunset over the Chisos Mountains on the way back in and it's just gorgeous!
Big Bend also has a natural hot spring on the South East side of the park! Yep, pack your swimsuit and hit the trail for this one!
A little warning to those that have a duel-tire vehicle (cough cough Grant). Do not ignore the notice driving back to this trailhead that duel-tired vehicles are not allowed because the road is narrow. You will give everyone in the car a heart attack. But back to the trail...
This area is pretty cool, there are little cliff dwellings on the way out to the hot springs you can explore in and then take a dip. This is perfect to visit after a long day on the trails. I don't know about you but there's nothing better on your sore feet than a natural hot spring!
There is no doubt about it that you will not be disappointed no matter where you venture in this massive National Park.
Even though these parks are numbered, one is not greater than the other. We love all of these parks and would be happy to visit each of them on any given day.
There are many more great places to adventure in the massive and beautiful state of Texas, but these are our favourites. These parks we continue to revisit and explore throughout the years and we know you will enjoy them just as much as we have.
As always when visiting any part of nature to hike, camp, paddle, or any other type of recreational activity, always practice Leave No Trace. This means whatever you pack in, you pack out. Leave nature natural! We are entering wildlife's home, do not leave trash for them to eat or choke on.
Be respectful of the land and enjoy all of its natural beauty!
We love hiking and our full-time RV lifestyle and we are thrilled to share it with you. If you want to know more read our other blogs post and always know that you can reach out to us for anything. We love hearing from you!
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