Getting Outside in Austin, Texas

Inks Lake State Park, Turley Creek Trail, & Pedernales Falls State Park

Austin 360 Bridge Overlook & Mount Bonnell

A couple weeks ago I had the chance to spend a weekend in Austin, Texas while dog-sitting.  The weather was supposed to be beautiful so I took advantage of it and booked as many reservations as I could for some local parks. Due to covid-19 all of the state parks and the local outdoor trails (such as the greenbelt) require reservations ahead of time. I was able to get into Inks Lake and Pedernales Falls State Parks.

Inks Lake State Park

Inks Lake is located about an hour north of Austin in Burnet, Texas. It is a lake made out of an impoundment along the Colorado River. There are plenty of places to camp along the water, as well as a small trail system (about 8.5 miles total). The lake itself is beautiful and would be a fantastic place for water activities in the summer. I just did about four miles worth of hiking along the Lake Trail and the Pecan Flats Trail. The hikes were not difficult, although I did find them to not be marked extremely well.

Longhorn Caverns is also located nearby, which I did not visit this time but I have in the past. Guided tours are offered in the caves.

Turkey Creek Trail

This was one of the only trails in central Austin that did not require reservations far in advance. Turkey Creek Trail is a 2.8 mile out and back, dog-friendly route within the Emma Long Metropolitan Park. It is very easy to navigate and not too difficult of a walk. When we visited there were lots of yellow flowers accenting the trail. I liked the trees that grew over the path.  It was a Saturday morning so we did see quite a few people, but most of the walking space is at least six feet wide.

Pedernales Falls State Park

This park by far was my favorite. I can’t believe I went to school for over four years in Austin and never visited! About an hour outside of Austin lies these multi-story turquoise falls cascade down limestone into a tubing-and-swimming-friendly river. I spent the least amount of time at this park due to dropping my phone in the falls (FYI iPhone 11 and up are water resistant for up to 30 minutes submerged). I took a short, downhill trail to the falls and wandered around there for about an hour, and honestly could’ve spent much more time had I not been panicking about a phone. The water was just stunning, such a bright, clear turquoise blue that fed into each successive little alcove of water. I really enjoyed this park and would love to visit again.

Mount Bonnell and Pennybacker Bridge (Austin 360 Bridge Overlook)

These two destinations are close within central Austin, and are arguably the two most touristy nature spots of Austin. Both have just a short hike up to a magnificent overlook. Since I went to college in Austin, I have been to both of these spots several times but honestly the view doesn’t get old.

https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/texas/turkey-creek-trail Turkey Creek Trail

https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/pedernales-falls Pedernales Falls State Park

https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/inks-lake Inks Lake State Park

https://www.austintexas.org/austin-insider-blog/post/mount-bonnell-for-beginners/ –> Mount Bonnell

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