Explore the depths of a few of Austin’s best parks with FP contributor and friend, Julia…
When I first moved to Austin, all I did was explore. The excitement of being in a new city, of seeing everything for the first time, combined with a freelance schedule that enabled me to spend my time how I saw fit, made for many days spent hiking and discovering the city’s countless parks. But I soon found myself back in the familiar routine of working full-time, and spending time outside became much less frequent. With the arrival of a new year, I’ve created the intention of getting back outside. There is nothing better than spending time with nature – it’s one of the things in life that makes me happiest and, this year, I plan on making more time to hike, explore and take advantage of the incredible parks right at our fingertips here in Austin. Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite spots to hike in the city and its immediate surroundings.
Obviously, the Greenbelt has to be included on this list. Winding trails right smack in the middle of the city, so remote that once you’re in it, you can’t hear the cars, construction and commotion of the city. It’s also so sprawling that, in my year here, I have still not seen all of what the Greenbelt has to offer. Trails vary from rough terrain that has you picking your way over rocks and boulders, to smoother pathways great for bikers or runners. Come summertime, it’s a saving grace from the Texas heat, but I love it just as much in winter – it’s so quiet and serene, it’s the perfect place to get away from it all for a little while, without having to even leave town.
Located about 15 minutes from downtown, McKinney Falls is another amazing spot to spend a day. Upon entering the Lower Falls area, you’re met with sprawling limestone and rocks and shells left from times when the water sits higher. I love taking time to examine rocks, and I always leave with heavy pockets from all that I take home with me. The falls themselves vary in intensity depending on the water level — on my most recent trip they were the most forceful I’ve seen them. When the water is lower, you can cross the falls and on the other side are old ruins from the original owners of the land. I could sit for hours listening to the sound of rushing water, and breathing in the fresh air that to me smells a bit like the ocean. It’s pretty spectacular at sunset, too.
St. Edwards Park
This was my most recent discovery, after a recommendation from a friend – and it definitely did not disappoint. St. Edwards Park is just a twenty minute drive north from downtown, and what I loved most about this park were the many different types of terrain. From open fields surrounded by cacti, to densely wooded areas, to waterfalls, this park has it all. There are several trails to choose from, but you can easily do them all in one day, which is what I did. I can’t wait to go back in the summertime when the water is warm enough to swim, too.
+These are just a few of my favorite spots close to the city, but I know this list is only scratching the surface – what are your favorite spots to hike in and around Austin? Let me know — I’d love to check them out!
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