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14 Best Texas Hill Country State Parks to explore now

The Texas Hill Country is home to some of the most beautiful state parks in the country.

With rolling hills, scenic rivers and streams, and abundant wildlife, these parks provide visitors with an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.

In addition to amazing Central Texas hiking trails and camp sites, many of these parks offer amenities such as fishing, biking, horseback riding, and picnicking.

Some of the best attractions in the Hill Country including Devils Waterhole, Gorman Falls, Frio River, and even dinosaur tracks are located in these state parks.

Fall colors on the Frio River near Concan, Texas
Fall colors on the Frio River near Concan, Texas

Best State Parks in the Texas Hill Country

The Texas Hill Country State Parks are must-visit destinations for any nature lover.

The parks boast a variety of scenic landscapes, from towering cliffs and rugged canyons to meandering rivers and lush forests.

Visitors can hike, bike, or even ride horses through the parks, and there are plenty of opportunities for camping, picnicking, and birdwatching.

The parks are also home to a wide variety of wildlife, including deer, bison, coyotes, and even bobcats.

Here are our favorite Central Texas parks to visit now.

Guadalupe River waterfall seen from the hiking trail
Guadalupe River waterfall seen from the hiking trail

Guadalupe River State Park

Located midway between San Antonio and Austin, Guadalupe River State Park is a hidden gem.

The Guadalupe River State Park is situated along a 12-mile stretch of the river and offers a variety of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy.

The river itself is popular for fishing, tubing, swimming, paddling, and canoeing.

The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, armadillos, and coyotes.

Inks Lake State Park Texas is popular for canoeing and kayaking
Inks Lake State Park Texas is popular for canoeing and kayaking

Inks Lake State Park

The Inks Lake State Park, located in Burnet, is our favorite Texas state park near Austin.

The park is a nature lover’s paradise.

Situated in the Texas Hill Country near Burnet, the Park is famous for its dramatic limestone cliffs, scenic hiking trails, and crystal-clear waters.

Inks Lake is excellent for all kinds of water activities including swimming, canoeing, and fishing.

The rocky hills and streams are great for mountain biking while the Devils Waterhole has incredible cliff jumping and swimming.

Gorman Falls falling over the mossy rocks and greenery in Central Texas
Gorman Falls falling over the mossy rocks and greenery in Central Texas

Colorado Bend State Park

Colorado Bend State Park is a scenic wilderness area located in the heart of Texas.

It is known for its sprawling natural landscapes of the Colorado River and myriad outdoor recreational opportunities.

The park is a popular destination for hikers, campers, and nature lovers alike, offering miles of interconnected trails crisscrossing scenic woodlands and meadows.

The most popular hiking trails here include the Gorman Falls trail, Spicewood Springs Trail, and Spicewood Canyon Trail.

The 3-mile-long Gorman Falls Loop Trail will lead you to the breathtakingly beautiful Gorman Falls waterfall.

This is the tallest waterfall in Texas and a must for outdoor lovers.

Enchanted Rock is one of the best places to visit in Texas for star gazing and seeing the Milky Way
Enchanted Rock is one of the best places to visit in Texas for star gazing and seeing the Milky Way

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

The Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is famous for its massive pillar of pink granite.

The rock is over a billion years old and stands at an impressive height of over 425 feet.

The Summit Trail leads you to the top of the monolith and also offers stunning views of the surrounding Hill Country.

The Enchanted Rock State Natural Area also includes a variety of other geological features, including caves, crevices, and a small waterfall.

The area is home to a diverse array of plant and animal life, and it is a popular destination for birdwatchers.

Visitors to this Texas hill country state park can also enjoy hiking, camping under the dark skies, rock climbing, and picnicking.

With its unique geology and abundant wildlife, the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is one of the best places to visit in Texas.

Cooling on the Frio River at Garner State Park is fun for all ages
Cooling on the Frio River at Garner State Park is fun for all ages

Garner State Park

Garner State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Texas.

It is located in the Uvalde County of the Hill Country of Texas, about an hour west of San Antonio.

The park is known for its scenic views, hiking trails, and clear waters of the Frio River.

It is also a popular spot for swimming, picnicking, hiking, biking, fishing, canoeing, and camping.

Looking for adventure? Hike to the top of Mt ‘Ol Baldy and enjoy the spectacular views!

Mt. Old Baldy hiking trail to the summit in Garner State Park in Texas
Mt. Old Baldy hiking trail to the summit in Garner State Park in Texas

Or take the Crystal Cave Trail and have an underground spelunking adventure!

The Bridges Trail is another great option.

There are also several historical sites to explore in the park, including the historic dance pavilion which hosts annual dances on summer evenings.

The park store has rentals available for kayaks, tubes, life jackets, and even bbq pits!

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site is a popular destination for nature lovers as well as history buffs.

The park is home to several historical sites, including the LBJ Ranch, which is the boyhood home of President Lyndon B. Johnson, and the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm.

Smoked sausage at the Sauer-Beckmann Farmstead, a living history farm in Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site
Smoked sausage at the Sauer-Beckmann Farmstead, a living history farm in Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site

At the LBJ Ranch, you can explore the birth home, family cemetery, Texas White House, and other sites that played an important role in President Johnson’s life.

The Sauer-Beckmann farmstead includes authentic 20th-century buildings and re-enactors who wear period costumes as they demonstrate historic farming techniques.

The park also features a variety of hiking trails, scenic vistas, longhorn and bison sightings, and picnic areas.

Covered wagon and historic building at Lyndon B Johnson Historic Site
Covered wagon and historic building at Lyndon B Johnson Historic Site

Hill Country State Natural Area

Hill Country State Natural Area is famous for its rugged terrain and diverse wildlife.

It is located near Bandera, the cowboy capital of Texas.

With beautiful rocky escarpments, magnificent canyons, flowing creeks, and abundant forests, this vast natural area is very popular with outdoor enthusiasts.

The wide expanse is best explored by horseback riding: bring your own or book a guided horseback tour!

Panoramic sunset views at Pedernales Falls State Park in Texas
Panoramic sunset views at Pedernales Falls State Park in Texas

Pedernales Falls State Park

Pedernales Falls State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Texas.

Situated in the Hill Country, about an hour west of Austin, the park is known for its dramatic views, hiking trails, waterfalls, and swimming holes.

The highlight of the park is Pedernales Falls, a beautiful waterfall that cascades into a series of crystal clear pools.

Other activities include rock climbing, fishing, picnicking, and camping.

Visitors can also enjoy stargazing under the dark skies in this remote wilderness area on the Pedernales River.

Views of the Pedernales River in fall from a high bluff hiking trail near Austin
Views of the Pedernales River in fall from a high bluff hiking trail near Austin

McKinney Falls State Park

Located just outside of Austin, McKinney Falls State Park is an urban delight.

The park is home to beautiful waterfalls, which are amazing to see in person.

The Lower Falls cascade over limestone rocks, creating a series of pools that are perfect for cooling off on a hot day.

Visitors can appreciate the beauty of the falls by taking a short hike from the parking lot.

The Upper Falls are located further upstream, and they can be reached by a longer hike.

Hiking trails at McKinney Falls State Park Austin
Hiking trails at McKinney Falls State Park Austin

However, the effort is well worth it, as the Upper Falls offers a truly stunning view from the overhanging limestone ledges.

Both the falls are fed by Onion Creek, which flows through the park.

There is also much more to explore: take the Homestead Trail to see the remains of an old McKinney homestead,

….or hike the Rock Shelter Trail to see the 500 year old majestic bald cypress tree!

In addition to the waterfalls, McKinney Falls State Park is also known for its hiking and biking trails, fishing spots, and bird watching opportunities.

Waterfall at McKinney Falls State Park Austin
Waterfall at McKinney Falls State Park Austin

Blanco State Park

Blanco State Park is situated on the banks of the Blanco River in central Texas.

The small park is known for its picturesque scenery, which includes towering cypress trees, limestone bluffs, and clear blue waters.

The river is popular for swimming, tubing, kayaking, and also fishing.

Or take a hike through the sun-dappled woods.

The park also has a playground, picnic tables, and grills for visitors to enjoy.

The Blanco River at Blanco state park in the Texas Hill Country
The Blanco River at Blanco state park in the Texas Hill Country

Longhorn Cavern State Park

Longhorn Cavern State Park is a true wonder of nature.

The cavern, which was formed from limestone deposits over millions of years, has amazing rock formations and also a myriad of interesting legends.

Visitors can explore the Longhorn Cavern on a guided tour.

For an easy day, book the 1.5 hrs long walking tour – good for all abilities.

Or opt for the more thrilling Wild Cave tour that goes deeper into the cave system and lasts for 3 hours.

While you are here, check out the historic buildings built by the CCC, admire the observation tower vistas, and hike the trails.

Longhorn Caverns can best be explored on the guided tours
Longhorn Caverns can best be explored on the guided tours

Old Tunnel State Park

Old Tunnel State Park is a unique park located in the Texas Hill Country.

The park gets its name from an abandoned railroad tunnel that was built in 1910 to transport goods and people through the area.

Today, the tunnel is home to a large colony of Mexican free-tailed bats.

Each year from May to October, visitors can watch the bats emerge from the tunnel at sunset in a spectacular show.

Mexican Free tailed Bats emerge from their cave at night
Mexican Free tailed Bats emerge from their cave at night

Lost Maples State Natural Area

Lost Maples State Natural Area is one of the most popular fall destinations in Texas.

The park is famous for its bigtooth maple trees, which turn bright red each autumn, creating a spectacular display of colors on the banks of the Sabinal River.

The best time to see the leaves change color is from mid-October to early November.

Take the East Trail loop for a relaxed hike along the river banks or the longer West Trail loop which features creek crossings and switchbacks.

This is definitely one of the best Texas hill country state parks for fall road trips and hikes.

Hiking trails in fall at Lost Maples State Natural Area in Vanderpool Texas Hill Country
Hiking trails in fall at Lost Maples State Natural Area in Vanderpool Texas Hill Country

South Llano River State Park

South Llano River State Park is a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

The park also includes over 20 miles of hiking trails that traverse rolling hills and scenic river bluffs.

The South Llano River is the highlight here.

The park has 2 miles of river frontage and visitors can take to the water with kayaks, canoes, as well as stand-up paddleboards.

River tubing and fishing are also popular here.

Llano river dam in Llano Texas
Llano river dam in Llano Texas

The Texas Hill Country is one of the most beautiful and also diverse regions in the state.

With its rolling hills, winding rivers, and fields of wildflowers, it’s no wonder that this area is home to some of the best state parks in Texas.

Which are your favorite Central Texas state parks? Let us know below!