I have recently moved to Texas to serve as a VISTA with the Texas Children in Nature program at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. However, 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 isn't 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. Now that I am serving as a VISTA at Texas Parks and Wildlife, I am enjoying exploring the many trails Texas has to offer.
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.
Central Texas - Forest Trail at the Austin and Nature Science Center
Coastal Bend - Oso Bay Wetlands, Creek Loop Trail
North Texas - Elm Fork Nature Preserve
Houston Metro Area - Nature Discovery Center
Pineywoods - Banita Creek Trail in Nacogdoches
Rio Grande Valley - National Butterfly Center
South Texas -Confluence Park
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.
Central Texas - Violet Crown Trail, Austin, TX
Caprock - Lower Canyon Trail
Coastal Bend -The Beach on Padre Island National Seashore
North Texas - Fort Worth Trinity River Trails
Houston Metro Area - Lonestar Hiking Trail
Pineywoods - 4C Natioinal Recreational Trail
Rio Grande Valley -Resaca de la Palma State Park, Brownsville, TX
South Texas - Lytle's Loop
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.
Central Texas - Lady Bird Lake
Coastal Bend - Mustang Island Paddling Trail
Dallas/Fort Worth - Paddle Point Creek
Houston Metro Area- Armand Bayou Paddling Trail
Pineywoods - Mineola Bigfoot Paddling Trail
South Texas - 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.
Central Texas - Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden
Caprock - Amarillo Zoo
Coastal Bend - Texas State Aquarium- Corpus Christi
Dallas/Fort Worth - Dallas Arboretum and Gardens
Houston Metro Area- Lost Lake
Pineywoods - Ellen Trout Zoo- Lufkin, TX
Rio Grande Valley - Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center, McAllen, TX
South Texas - Japanese Tea Garden at Brackenridge Park- San Antonio, TX