I was born and raised in Central Pennsylvania in a small town called Boiling Springs. My hometown is particularly important on the east coast because it marks the halfway point on the Appalachian Trail (AT). The Trail starts in Georgia and travels north over 2,000 miles to its terminus in Maine. Boiling Springs is a hub for thru-hikers as a place where they can restock on supplies, grab a warm meal, and get a good night’s sleep before heading back out on the trail.
I met several hikers throughout the years and learned a great deal about them, about the AT, and about the long-trail hiking culture. Lots of hikers walk the trail because they love nature. Some want to complete it for personal pride. Others hike it in search of closure after a life-changing event. Many describe it as “finding yourself.” Completing the Appalachian Trail can be cathartic, reminding those who do it of their personal strength and ambition.
The Appalachian Trail is the only trail offering a rewarding challenge. Embarking on a nature walk, no matter the length, opens our creativity and lets our minds wander away from the distractions of society. Trails take us on a journey through nature, allowing us to explore our environment as well as our personal strengths.
In honor of National Trails Day on Saturday, June 2nd, Texas Children in Nature has compiled a list of interesting places to explore in nature with family and friends. National Trails Day is a time to celebrate and appreciate how we most commonly navigate the outdoors. It’s also a time to get involved with a host of activities and events taking places across the state.
You and your family can even register for a volunteer workday in most cities. Texas Children in Nature can get you connected to the nearest walking, biking, paddling or horseback trails via our website Nature Rocks Texas. Here are a few of our favorite trails in your area.
Short Nature Walks: If you want to enjoy a walk in nature with little ones we have found some fun walks that are short in distant, but long on adventure.
Austin - Forest Trail (Austin Nature Science Center)
Coastal Bend - Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve (OSO Bay Wetlands Preserve)
Dallas/Fort Worth - Trinity River Audubon Center
Houston - Nature Discovery Center
Pineywoods - Banita Creek Trail
Rio Grande Valley - Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area
San Antonio - Skip's Pond Trail Route
Long Nature Walks: If you are looking for a walk in nature that offers some real distances, here are a few we recommend. When taking a long walk, remember to pack lots of water, know your limits, tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
Austin - Violet Crown Trail
Caprock - Lower Canyon Trail
Coastal Bend - Padre Island National Seashore
Dallas/Fort Worth - Fort Worth Trinity River Trails
Houston - Lonestar Hiking Trail
Pineywoods - 4C Natioinal Recreational Trail
Rio Grande Valley - Gator Pond Trail
San Antonio - Government Canyon State Natural Area
Places to Paddle: Who says a trail has to be on land? Texas Parks and Wildlife has designated over 50 paddling trails throughout the state. A paddling trip with the family is a great way to explore in nature when the weather is warm.
Austin - Lady Bird Lake
Coastal Bend - Mustang Island Paddling Trail
Dallas/Fort Worth - Paddle Point Creek
Houston - Armand Bayou Paddling Trail
Pineywoods - Mineola Bigfoot Paddling Trail
San Antonio - Saspamco Paddling Trail
Whimsical Walks: Take a walk on the whimsical side. Each of these trails are offer something fun and unusual for those that choose to travel them.
Austin - Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden
Caprock - Amarillo Zoo
Coastal Bend - Texas State Aquarium
Dallas/Fort Worth - Dallas Arboretum and Gardens
Houston - Lost Lake
Pineywoods - Ellen Trout Zoo
Rio Grande Valley - Quinta Mazatlan
San Antonio - Japanese Tea Garden at Brackenridge Park
Cave Crawls: Get out of the heat and explore underground this summer. Central Texas has some very interesting caves that offer a journey of a different type.
Austin - Airman's Cave
San Antonio - Natural Bridge Caverns
Equestrian Trails: Texas has such a deep history and love of horses. There are still places to ride horses of your own or that you can rent for a day.
Austin - Slaughter Creek Trail
Caprock - Old West Stables
Coastal Bend - South Padre Island Adventure Park
Dallas/Fort Worth - Marshall Creek Ranch
Houston - The Spread
Pineywoods - Davey Crockett National Forest
Rio Grande Valley - Texas Border Tours
San Antonio - West Creek Trail Rides
Best Biking: You don’t have to be a master mountain biker to get out to enjoy these trails with your family and friends.
Austin - Walnut Creek Trail
Caprock - Abilene State Park
Coastal Bend - Oso Creek Park
Dallas/Fort Worth - White Rock Lake
Houston - Buffalo Bayou Park
Pineywoods - Hunt's Woods Stephen F. Austin Recreational Trail
Rio Grande Valley - Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park
San Antonio - Pepper Creek Trail