1. Barton Creek Greenbelt (Austin)
The Greenbelt is an extremely popular, 7.9 mile trail in Zilker Park. It was actually recently ranked the seventh best hiking trail in Texas, probably due to the beautiful, layered rocks lining one side and the crystalline creek on the other. When rainfall has been adequate, you can take a break from hiking and jump right into the water to cool off!
2. Gorman Falls (Bend)
Although the trail itself doesn't parallel a river or stream, it ends in a nearly 70-foot tall waterfall, so I think that makes up for it. Plus, the hike is only three miles round-trip, so there'll be just enough time for the anticipation to build without tiring you out so much that you're ready to head home by the time you reach your breathtaking destination.
3. Mount Bonnell (Austin)
You might get a little winded walking up all the stairs, but the panoramic view of the Colorado River at the mountain's peak makes it all worth it - especially at sunset. It truly is an amazing sight.
4. Santa Elena Canyon (Big Bend National Park)
This massive canyon is split in half by the majestic Rio Grande, a very welcome water source in the scorching hot West Texas desert. Do some hiking in the stunning Chisos Mountains and then cool off by kayaking, canoeing, or swimming in the river.
5. Galveston Island State Park (Galveston)
I know I bash Galveston a lot, but it's mostly all in good fun - I actually have a lot of love for the town and its beaches. This trail, tucked away from the main beach, is definitely a gem on the island that a lot of people don't know about. There's something about the squeaking of these boards and the sound of my feet hitting the wood that's unmatched by anything else. The amount of tranquility that can be found here in the peace and quiet is pretty amazing.
6. McKinney Roughs Nature Park (Cedar Creek)
Just 13 miles east of the Austin airport, this park is home to hundreds of plant and animal species, canyons, meadows filled with wildflowers, and, of course, the picturesque, winding Colorado River. The Riverside Trail is your best bet for getting close to the water as it basically parallels it for the entire length of the hike.
7. Lost Maples State Natural Area (Vanderpool)
Although this park is beautiful year-round, we recommend visiting in the fall to see the foliage change color and come to life. There are 10 miles of trails, one which takes you up 2,200 feet, and most of which line the green-blue Sabinal River. You don't wanna miss this one, y'all.
8. Big Thicket National Preserve (Lumberton)
The water might not be the clearest, but this park still holds a special place in my heart. I've been coming here for as long as I can remember to hike alongside Village Creek. No matter how many mosquitoes I have to swat away or snakes I have to watch out for, I'll never stop enjoying this slice of nature in one of the biggest forests in the country.
9. Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway (Mineral Wells)
This park has a 640-acre lake that's perfect for boating and fishing. Even better, there are 12.8 miles of trails of varying difficulties
10. Smith Spring (Guadalupe Mountains National Park)
Not only is the water here beautiful, it's at the base of the majestic, towering Guadalupe Mountains. The spring is an oasis in the desert, and the hike overlooking it is an absolutely unforgettable experience.
Have you ever hiked at any of these parks? Are there any other waterfront trails in Texas that we missed?