Fall is finally upon us and those unbearable summer temps are over – at least for now. Y’all know how hot the summer has been but now is the time to get outside of the AC and have some fun. Hiking in Texas is a terrific activity that can bring the family together and get us all some exercise to boot. It’s also a great way to see parts of Texas that you miss when you don’t get out of the pickup.
Texas by Texans already knows how beautiful the state really is – and you probably do, too. If you are a transplant from somewhere else – you know that Texas is BIG but you may not know about how much of the “outdoors” our state really has.
If this is your first time to look for hiking in Texas – there are a few things you should know first.
- Good shoes are a must! For some hikes, cross-trainer or walking type tennis shoes (a lot of us call all those sports shoes tennis shoes – even if we don’t play tennis). Running shoes probably won’t give you enough ankle support and “sneakers” probably have soles that are too slick. Look for sturdy shoes with rugged soles and if you are looking for an off-trail hike, you might need some ankle support.
- Take a walking stick: At kids’ camp, one of the requirements for every camper is a sturdy stick. This is for two things – 1. to provide extra support in case you lose your balance, but 2. to find the wildlife before it finds you (don’t be scared now, but, yes, we might mean snakes).
- Stay hydrated: This means carrying water with you. This isn’t the mountains with handy streams over the next hill and you probably won’t have any access to naturally clean water so take your own. Water bottles, canteens, whatever containers you have should be carried in a backpack, fanny pack or strapped to your body.
- Protect yourself from the sun: Though it is fall, the sun still shines. You can get sunburned and it is hard to see in bright light. Wear a hat if you are sensitive, sunglasses might be a good idea, and you might be better off with long sleeves for sun and wind protection – along with protection from brush that you might encounter – and by all means, wear sunscreen.
Now that we got those basics out of the way – we can talk about the hiking itself and there is something for everyone!
Novice Hikers – Novice hikers who don’t have a lot of experience should consider the basics of exercise “Start low, go slow.” This means that the best place to start for beginners is a local nature trail. Most areas with parks have “hiking” trails – which can also be used as bike trails. They take you off the beaten path in urban and suburban areas past the creeks and under the bridges but you can walk as slow or as fast as you want. The trails are usually maintained by parks officials – and the bonus is that restrooms and water stops are often available along the way. You can find one right in your area by searching for local parks and recreations departments on the Internet.
Moderate level hikers – You may have some hiking experience but aren’t ready for a serious challenge yet. Moderate hikers can enjoy the local trails at a faster pace, or often go a lot further. Many parks-maintained hiking and running trails can extend for miles – just that most people don’t go that far. Give yourself a challenge in this way and you’ll see much more of the back areas than you ever have before.
Experienced hikers – Experienced hikers don’t usually need much direction. For nearly every area in Texas, the experienced hiker won’t miss out. You can, of course, start at the moderate level or you can go all out. To seriously challenge yourself, you may need to look outside of your area to places like Garner State Park, Big Bend Ranch, Guadalupe Peak, Balcones Canyon or The Big Thicket. There are lots of terrific and “hard” hiking trails in Texas, you just have to do a bit of research on Texas hiking.
At Texas by Texans, we don’t think you have to leave our beautiful state to have some fun. No matter your level, no matter where you are, there is great hiking in Texas! Be prepared, be bold, and be daring – and get out there and have some fun!
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