The feel of fall in Texas is absolutely rewarding after a heat-centric summer. The fall and spring are two of the best times to embrace nature in Texas. Now being born and raised in the Lone Star State, Texas hikes were my very first hikes, ever. My novice experiences as a backpacker began under the Texas soil, predominately during the fall.
With mild sunny days and nights that just start to get a chill, you could consider fall prime time for Texas outdoor recreation. I will never forget the cool nights of Big Bend, the changing fall foliage in Lost Maples, and the perfectly windy autumn days found at Enchanted Rock. Texas might not be known for its fall season, and you might not see expansive forests of changing fall foliage, but it truly is the best time to explore the land without the heat.
Since Texas is oh-so-big, I’m not a complete expert on all the coolest autumn hikes Texas has to offer. Therefore the ones on this short list are simply my favorites or on my to-do list.
Vanderpool, Texas (West of San Antonio and Austin near the Sabinal River in the Edwards Plateau)
If you want to see fall foliage in Texas, this is where you should go. The park is great for both backpacking, camping, and day hikes. If you aren’t much of a hiker, you can swim and fish here too. One of my favorite things to see here in the ‘Monkey Rock,’ a rock that looks like a monkey head!
West Texas (near the Mexico border in the Chisos Mountains and Chihuahuan Desert)
Big Bend National Park is truly a Texas treasure. The mountainous landscape will change the mind of anyone that thinks Texas is flat. Also black bear roam here too. Mountains and bears in Texas? You bet. There are lots of hiking trails, making for a great backpacking experience. If hiking isn’t your thing, bike or even raft the Rio Grande River. Since this park is extremely remote and is a far drive from all major cities, you might want to spend a good few days backpacking and camping here.
Southeast Texas outside of Huntsville and Conroe in the Sam Houston National Forest
The Lone Star Trail is a 140-mile trail traversing through piney woods and gently-flowing streams. Since the terrain is easy, a thru-hike of the trail would take about a week. Fall is a great time to hike here because no heat and no mosquitoes!
Fredericksburg, Texas (West of Austin)
This popular Texas park is popular for good reason. The area is perfect for hiking and climbing because of the huge, pink rock monolith of domed granite known as Enchanted Rock. Before heading out to the park, make reservations for camping in advance to ensure a spot.
Johnson City, Texas (West of Austin)
Pedernales Fall State Park is located by the Pedernales River. Check out the awesome slabs of limestone features that were carved by the river over time. Hike, bike, or ride a horse along the trails here. Or enjoy the river by fishing, swimming, or tubing.
Before you venture out to these Texas treasures, follow these tips while camping or backpacking in the Lone Star State.
- Carry Your Own Water
- Some water sources might be dry, so always check before heading out if water is available.
- Embrace Chilly Nights and Prepare for Heat
- Texas during fall can be amazing, yet cold. Always be prepared for cold nights but warm or even hot days.
- Leave No Trace
- Practice ‘Leave No Trace’ policies, such as carrying out all trash, staying on trail, and obeying all fire laws.
- Wear Orange
- Hunting season starts in Texas in the fall. Therefore always check parks to see if the park is open for hikers. Sometimes parks will allot days for hunters only. Even when hiking, still wear orange and bright colors for a safety measure to let hunters in the area know that you are there.