Add these epic Texas backpacking trails to visit for the ultimate outdoor adventure.
Hike along the Guadalupe Mountains, walk through a tunnel filled with 500,000 bats, and enjoy the touring pine trees in an East Texas forest. Texas has endless trails to explore, animals to encounter, rock formations to climb, and state parks to visit. Below is the ultimate list of the best places to backpack through Texas.
North Texas Backpacking Trails
1. Cross Timbers Trail, Lake Texoma
The is a reservation-free camping spot in the Lone Star state, making it the perfect destination for a spontaneous hiking getaway.
A trail system of over 14 miles of trails begins at Juniper Point at the Willis Bridge and winds its way to Rock Creek Camp. Hikers will experience various terrain and wildlife, such as snakes, coyotes, and bobcats.
Hikers will wind their way through a thick forest along the shoreline of Lake Texoma. Campsites are scattered along the trail and near the water’s edge.
Distance: 14.2 miles point-to-point
2. LBJ Grasslands Outer Loop – Decatur, TX
It’s probably a hidden gem for most. I had no idea this was only 25 minutes from where I live.
Texas Panhandle Backpacking Trails
3. Caprock Canyons Trailway, Caprock Canyons State Park
This trail is lengthy and desolate at times. Hiking through the flat Panhandle, the profusion of cotton fields, and bringing enough water are necessary. But scattered in the flat abyss is the abundant wildlife you will encounter.
This part of the Panhandle is where hikers encounter coyotes, bobwhites, snakes, turkeys, deer, and Texas raptors. Pass through Clarity Tunnel to view the home of 500,000 Mexican free-tailed bats.
The long trail is well maintained and follows the entire trek’s railroad track. History buffs will appreciate the sign along the path that gives information on the settlements and cattle drives that once passed through the area.
Distance: 64 miles point-to-point
4. Lighthouse Trail, Palo Duro Canyon State Park
A trip to the second-largest canyon in the United States is a must-do. Spanning 120 miles long, 20 miles wide, and the deepest point reaching over 800 feet, it’s no wonder it has the nickname of the Grand Canyon of Texas.
The Lighthouse Trail is the most popular hike in the park and is known for the massive rock formation that resembles a lighthouse.
Rated at a moderate hike, the trail is mostly a flat, sandy trail that takes you along the rock formation and stunning park views. Although this is a smooth hike, hikers must do a bit of rock scrambling to reach the flat plateau where the lighthouse formation stands.
The canyon can be deceiving, and in the summer, it can reach up to 120° F, which is significantly hotter than the canyon rim. Hikers must ensure they bring the recommended one gallon of water per person and wear sunscreen, as there is little to no shade on the trail.
Distance: 5.6 miles point-to-point
Central Texas Backpacking Trails
5. Gorman Falls Trail, Colorado Bend State Park
A unique living waterfall is 65 feet of cascading water and becomes more prominent as time passes.
The trail consists of cactus and limestone paths, with the occasional groves of trees that offer much-needed shade for hikers. The Colorado Bend State Park’s trail map has it marked as a challenging hike, but I think it is because the trail can sometimes be slippery.
Distance: 3.3 miles post to point
6. Painted Rock, Garner State Park
This is a heavily used trail at one of the busiest state parks in the Texas Hill Country. Garner State Park offers easy access to the Frio River and is a popular spot to launch tubes in the warmer months.
But don’t let the number of people in the park deter you! Once inside the park, take the Bridges Trail to Painted Rock Overlook, and the crowds begin to thin out. The trail is steep and can be challenging at times. But once you go to the top and check out the fantastic reviews, you will see that it was worth the climb!
Distance: 4 miles point-to-point
East Texas Backpacking Trails
7. Lone Star Hiking Trail, Sam Houston National Forest
Famous for being the longest hike in Texas, this 128-mile trail (including the five loop trails) is multi-day. If you don’t have multiple days, you can enter at a trailhead to hike any loops ranging from 5 to 13 miles.
Hikers will enjoy trekking through the thick pine forest, cypress swamps, and bayous of the Pineywoods of East Texas.
Distance: 96 miles point-to-point
8. The Trail Between The Lakes, Sabine National Forest
Wind your way through the Sabine National Forest. What is unique about this trail is that it passes through three distinct ecosystems: Pine Savannah, Bottomland Hardwood Forest, and Beech-Magnolia Canyons.
The trail takes hikers along Lake Toledo Bend, crossing multiple streams through the pineywood forest and hilly terrain. Its beautiful scenery and well-marked trails make this one of the best hikes in the area.
Distance: 28 miles point-to-point
South Texas Backpacking Trails
9. Mount Ol’ Baldy Trail, Garner State Park
A hike up Mount Ol’ Baldy is a must-do for amazing views of the beautiful landscape of Texas.
Don’t be fooled by the short hike – you will climb up the entire way! Once at the summit, you can take a break and enjoy the expansive views of the Frio River.
Distance: 1-mile point-to-point
10. Lost Maples Extra Loop Trail, Lost Maples State Park
A popular trail that guides you around most of the park birding, along the Sabinal River, and through a forest populated with the most concentrated numbers of maple trees in Texas.
The trail is labeled a moderate hike, but several inclines and steep terrain are on parts of the course.
Distance: 7 miles from point to point.
West Texas Backpacking Trails
11. Santa Elena Canyon Trail, Big Bend National Park
A beautiful drive to the trailhead, stunning views of the canyon, and a mostly shaded hike are all reasons to enjoy this part of Big Bend National Park.
Take the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive from Panther Junction to begin the hike. The trail makes its way down to the banks of the Rio Grande, where the canyon comes into view.
As you go further into the hike, you will be 160ft above the Rio Grand and walking through the canyon walls that flank you on both sides. It’s a beautiful site and a fun hike.
Distance. 1.7-mile point-to-point
12. Chisos Mountain, Big Bend National Park
There are approximately 20 miles of backpacking trails through these mountains, which can take days to hike them all. Most hikers limit trips to 2-3 days because of the water sources. Year-round camping, a lodge, and a restaurant are available in the Chisos Mountains—reservations are required.
Distance: 20 miles
13. Guadalupe Peak Trail, Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas at 8,749 feet. This hike can be tough, with an elevation gain of over 3,000 feet and multiple switchbacks.
With little shade on the trail, be prepared for the Texas heat and bring plenty of water.
As you reach the summit, you will find the views of El Capitan to the South and the desert below you worth the trek.
Distance: 8.15 miles point-to-point
14. Devil’s Hall Trail, Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Start from the Pine Springs Campground and follow a 1-mile maintained path before you get to the gravel, loose rock, and debris while walking over boulders until you get to Hiker’s Staircase. After the climb up the stairs is a narrow path. This trail is not for beginners. Bring a gallon of water per person.
Distance: 4.2 miles round-trip
15. Canyon Rim Trail, Seminole Canyon State Park & Historic Site
Ancient rock art, views of the Rio Grande, and canyon overlooks are what hikers will encounter when on the trails.
To access the Canyon Rim Trail, hikers must first take the Rio Grande Trail, which connects to the Canyon Rim Trail.
The trail had panoramic overlooks and shelters along the path. Be sure to stop and admire the Panther Cave Overlook, which has a 9-foot panther pictograph in the cave.
Distance: 9 miles point-to-point
There you have it – 15 epic backpacking trails in Texas. Try out these amazing day hikes in Texas for a soft adventure hike.