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Hike Austin - Explore the Beauty of Open Air

Awaken your soul connect with nature and walk a different path from your every day routine this Summer

Hike Austin is a community trail guide, specifically on Instagram, for residents and tourists in the Austin area. The page features people’s favorite photos of their hikes, as well as a dissemination of information about the hike’s details and surroundings. Since one person cannot hike all of these areas at once, loyal followers of the page rely on the community for up-to-date information. 

Matthew Guthrie is the creator of Hike Austin’s Instagram page which has inspired a tremendous and loyal following of 55.7k people and thousands of likes per photo! He stumbled upon the username @hikeaustin about a year and half ago, and to his amazement the username was available!  His page continues to gain 100 new followers every day and reaches people all over the world. He stated that he started this as a fun hobby and as a way to provide hiking trail resources for the community. His “fun hobby” quickly grew into a distinguished, serviceable community of outdoor enthusiasts and anyone interested in learning about the adventures of hiking. 

Matthew was born and raised right here in Austin and has been hiking in the area since he was young. He was fortunate to have a neighborhood greenbelt directly outside of his backyard.

Growing up, he spent most of his free time building forts or exploring deeper into the greenbelt. He stated he was grateful that his parents let him spend all the time he wanted in the neighborhood greenbelt, of course however, if he was “home before the streetlights turned on”.

“I believe this freedom to explore as a child was the beginning to my love of the outdoors.” 

Through Hike Austin, Matthew has made significant connections with Texas Parks & Wildlife, Austin Parks & Recreation, LCRA Parks, and Travis County Parks. His goal is to have the Hike Austin website a single resource which will include hiking information from all of these organizations. He has also begun working with the Bull Creek Foundation to organize cleanup efforts in the Bull Creek Greenbelts.

Matthew stated that he does not have an exact number of places to hike in Austin because it is such a large number, and there are tons of unnamed trails in neighborhood greenbelts, like the ones he grew up on. If he had to guess, he stated that there are over 500 trails in the Austin area. He has hiked Austin for about 15 years and stated that he continues to find new places all the time.  

In his opinion, Austin is thought of as an outdoorsy city, but not a hiking city like Denver, for example. His desire is for Hike Austin to inspire people to go out and discover the incredible experience of hiking in a beautiful city such as Austin. From the countless swimming holes in the local greenbelts, to the 30+ miles of trails at Pedernales Falls State Park, this city is packed with areas to explore. Even little unnamed trails can lead you to gorgeous waterfalls or swimming holes. 

There are trails at all different levels of difficulty, and even though we don’t have mountains, places like River Place Nature Trail will leave your legs burning until next year. The benefits of hiking help your overall mental and physical health. There’s something special about getting out in nature and spending time with your thoughts. It has a way of reminding you where we all started as humans and the way we have lived for thousands of years before cities and cars. 

There are different kinds of hikes near Austin. From trails that lead to waterfalls and swimming holes, or up steep bluffs to hill country views, Austin has it all. 

“Personally, I like early morning hikes before most folks get out. If you can hike at sunrise, there is a level of peacefulness that is hard to describe.”

 Matthews prefers discovering trails that most folks do not know exist. There are so many trails in local neighborhoods that people don’t explore because there are no trail maps he stated. Matthew shared a few tips of proper hiking gear such as wearing closed toed shoes and bringing water for your hike, and then the rest is up to you! Some folks wear tennis shoes and others wear boots, but if you are comfortable and have a good grip, then you are good to go. Matthew stated that he likes to hike with trekking poles for the extra balance and to push overgrown plants away before passing by. Sunscreen and bug spray can be useful as well depending on the day.

It’s important to remember that safety should always be a priority when hiking. Let someone know you are going hiking and for how long, especially if you go solo. Always take more water than you think you need. Also, always be on the lookout for snakes, especially in the warmer months. You don’t need to be scared of snakes, just be aware of them.

Matthew shared three of his favorite Hiking Spots in Austin as well as fun and interesting features about each of them.

Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center

  1. Westcave Outdoors Discovery Center (also known as Westcave Preserve). About 30 miles west of Austin, nextdoor to Hamilton Pool. 

  2. Guided tour of gorgeous spring fed grotto and cave. It’s truly magical. 

  3. Huge cypress trees, gorgeous waterfall, cave, crystal clear pool, and tons of beautiful plants. 

  4. The hike takes about 1.5 hours but it’s more a tour than a hike. Since it’s by guided tour only, Westcave is forgotten about. During the tour the guide will teach everyone how this area was formed, the history, and why it’s so well protected. 

  5. Yes, this hike is great for all ages. They really focus on kids here. 

  6. Elementary school kids are able to do this hike 

  7. The cave is unique and the grotto area is one of a kind. 

  8. Morning tours have the best lighting conditions although its gorgeous all day. 

  9. Check out Westcave’s website for tour information 

River Place Nature Trail 

  1. River Place Nature Trail is located in the River Place neighborhood in West Austin. There about a few trails within the trail system here. 

  2. The trails travel up and down through a canyon with a creek at the bottom. Over 2,000 stair steps. It’s a big workout! 

  3.  Waterfalls and gorgeous spring fed creek 

  4. The hike can take anywhere from an hour to five, depending on what all you hike. 

  5. Beginners should turn back before getting to tired. Anyone can hike here but as a beginner, don’t expect to hike all of the trails in one day. 

  6. Any age can hike here depending on fitness level. I have seen parents hiking here with very young kids, they just don’t hike very far. 

  7. There are tons of beautiful stopping points and waterfalls

  8. Mornings are normally the best during the summer due to the heat, but it’s almost all shaded so you can hike anytime of day. 

  9. There is a $10 fee to hike here during the weekends 

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge 

  1. Balcones Canyonlands has two trailheads, one near Lago Vista (Warbler Vista) and the other is near Oatmeal, TX (Doeskin Ranch). 

  2. Depending on the trail, you’ll go from vast hill country views to a spring fed creek. 

  3. The quietness. These trails are much less popular than the ones closer to Austin. During the week you can have this place to yourself. 

  4. Warbler Vista Trailhead has about 3.5 miles of trails and Doeskin Ranch Trailhead has over 6 miles. You can choose what to hike, but hiking all the trails at each trailhead in one day is very doable.  

  5. Yes, the trails are mild overall. Doeskin Ranch has one big bluff to hike up. Warbler Vista has a few step sections but beginners can handle them. 

  6. Any age can hike here

  7. Great place during fall foliage 

  8. Sunrise or Sunsets are the best time to hike for the views

  9. No dogs allowed. The Sunset Deck at the Warbler Vista Trailhead is amazing, and you can drive to it. Handicap accessible also.

@hikeaustin

www.hikeaustin.com (coming soon)

hikeaustintexas@gmail.com

Word of the wise hiker: Please don’t leave trash behind and pickup trash if you can. It takes all of us working together to keep our trails clean. 

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