Hiking is an adventurous and rewarding way to get you and your dog in shape. Scaling rocky paths, climbing up steep trails and gasping at the natural world — you can’t ask for a better outing with your furry best friend. However, some trails aren’t meant for furry friends due to the terrain or conservation practices. So, planning a weekend or day-long hiking trip can get hectic when you aren’t sure where to go and you’ve already covered the Greenbelt. But we’ve rounded up some of our favorite hikes near Austin that welcome your four-legged friends.
It takes about an hour and a half to get to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, but you can take a longer, more scenic route, that’ll only add a half hour to the trek. No matter how you get there, the trail at the natural area is worth the time. The Loop Trail is 5.4-mile that takes a loop through the park that features a river. Though dogs are not allowed on the rock dome itself, the views from the trail are stunning and the hike itself is great exercise.
McKinney Falls is only a short drive from Downtown Austin at about 30 minutes. Here, leashed dogs are more than welcome to join you for a hike at the picturesque rocky falls at McKinney Falls State Park. Austin weather changes at the drop of a hat, so the location makes impromptu sunny day getaways easy to plan and even easier to execute. You and your dog can hike trails that weave through the remains of an old homestead and mill. Historical and beautiful views.
The Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is located on the western most side of Plano (near Dallas). Though about three hours from Downtown Austin, the preserve has 200 acres of natural beauty that’s perfect for walking, running or hiking with your dog. If you find yourself in the area or even passing through, it’s a great spot to let you and your dog get some fresh air and exercise. Even better, there’s an observation tower that looks out over the city, meaning you can get a great view after a nice hike.
If you’re looking for a bit of a challenge and to stay in the immediate area, Hill of Life is the perfect place. It can get crowded on the weekends, as most of the greenbelt does, but you and your dog will get a great workout in. Going down the hill is easy, it’s the going up that’ll wear you and your dog out. At the bottom, keep following the trail to hit Sculpture Falls and Twin Falls. These scenic stops will help you get some rest before that trek up. Of course, there are plenty of other access points along the Barton Creek Greenbelt to check out as well. So, if a hill isn’t the right fit, head to the Austin Parks Foundation to find the perfect spot for you and your dog.
Just about an hour away in Johnson City, the park has several amazing hikes ranging from challenging to light stroll. With 17 trails, you’ll find the perfect one for you and your dog. Our favorites are the Wolf Mountain Trail and Pedernales Falls Trail. Both have great views and winding paths that make the hike extra exciting. You and your dog can make the journey for just a day of hiking and swimming, or you can stay awhile at the various camping options.