Top 10 Running Trails in Texas

Top 10 Running Trails in Texas

Posted by RunUnited on Sep 29th 2023

Running is more than just a fitness routine; it's an experience, especially when you're running amidst the stunning landscapes of Texas. From verdant green belts to rocky mountain trails, the Lone Star State offers a myriad of scenic paths that will make your run exhilarating and fulfilling. Ready to know more about some of these? Here are the best running trails in Texas that promise not just a workout but breathtaking views as well.

Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail, Barton Creek Wilderness Park, Austin

Best for: Intermediate

Top 10 Texas running trails, The  Barton Creek Greenbelt stretches over 7 miles and offers more than just a running path; it's an adventure waiting to happen.

The trail begins near the Thiel Pediatric Dentistry and extends to the Hill of Life. Along the way, you'll encounter diverse landscapes — from dense forests to limestone cliffs, providing a varied terrain that keeps your run interesting. Along the way, you can cool off at Twin Falls or Sculpture Falls, a secluded and tranquil urban oasis with crystal-clear water cascading over smooth rocks.

Despite its popularity, the Barton Creek Greenbelt manages to maintain its tranquility. The trail's length and numerous entry points ensure it never feels crowded, allowing you to enjoy your run in peace.

Green Ridge Trail, Memorial Park, Houston

Best for: Beginner-Intermediate

The  Green Ridge Trail at Houston Memorial Parkis a 2.5-mile loop that offers runners a lush, green haven within the city's hustle and bustle.

The Green Trail is a mix of paved and gravel surfaces that is easy on the knees. It meanders through the dense woods of the park, offering a peaceful and scenic run. The run trail is well-marked and maintained, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.

One of the key features of the Green Trail is its varied terrain. The trail includes mild elevation changes, root-strewn paths, and tight turns that make for a challenging yet exciting run. It's not uncommon to see runners weaving their way around tree roots or hopping over small creeks that cross the path.

Beyond running, the Green Trail is also a great place for birding and wildlife spotting. The dense foliage is home to lots of birds, and if you're lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the occasional deer.

The Green Trail is part of the larger network of trails within Memorial Park, which includes the Yellow Trail, Blue Trail, and Purple Trail. Each offers a different experience and difficulty level, allowing runners to mix and match their routes. Overall, Memorial Park boasts 25 miles of running trails.

Wolf Mountain Trail, Pedernales Falls State Park

Best for: Intermediate

Ready for a challenge with another best running trail?  Wolf Mountain running trail at Pedernales Falls State Park is a 7-mile loop that will test your endurance. The trailhead is located near the camping area and starts relatively flat, making it easy for runners to warm up before the terrain becomes more challenging. The path then gradually ascends, winding its way through a diverse landscape of dense woodlands, open meadows, and rugged hillsides.

One of the highlights of the Wolf Mountain Trail is the overlook at the top of Wolf Mountain. After a strenuous climb, you're rewarded with scenic vistas of the surroundings that are absolutely breathtaking. This spot is perfect for a mid-run rest, where you can catch your breath while soaking in the beauty of nature.

The trail also takes you alongside Jones Spring and Regal and Bee Creeks, where you can enjoy the soothing sounds of flowing water.

North Franklin Mountain Trail (via Mundy's Gap), Franklin Mountains State Park

Best for: Expert

Want to conquer one of the best running trails at the expert level? For those seeking an adventure, the  North Franklin Mountain via Mundy's Gap Trail is an absolute must-try. This 7.7-mile round-trip trail takes you up the highest peak in El Paso, offering stunning views of the city and beyond.

The trail sets off from the West Cottonwood Spring trailhead and gradually ascends through the stunning Mundy's Gap, a natural break in the mountain range, continues along the North Franklin Mountain trail, and ends at the peak of the mountain. The route is characterized by its rocky terrain, steep inclines, and panoramic views, making it a memorable experience for any trail runner.

During your run, you may encounter various species of cacti, yuccas, and agaves and even spot wildlife like roadrunners, lizards, and hawks.

As you climb higher, this run trail becomes more rugged and challenging, but the reward at the summit of North Franklin Mountain is well worth the effort. Standing at an elevation of nearly 7,200 feet, it's the highest point in the park and offers sweeping 360-degree views of the surrounding cityscape and distant mountain ranges.

Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, Lady Bird Lake, Austin

Best for: Beginner-Intermediate

The  Ann and Roy Butler running trail in Austin is a scenic 10-mile loop that wraps around serene Lady Bird Lake, offering stunning waterfront views.

The trail starts at the Peace Point at Town Lake Metropolitan Park and loops around the lake through Roberta Crenshaw Bridge, providing stunning views of the city skyline and the tranquil water. The path is largely flat, with a prevailing gravel surface, making it accessible for runners of all experience levels.

As you make your way along the trail, you'll pass through lush green parks, over charming pedestrian bridges, and by numerous historical and cultural landmarks.

Enchanted Rock Loop Trail, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Fredericksburg

Best for: Beginner-Intermediate

The Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in Fredericksburg is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The park's crowning glory is the Enchanted Rock itself, a massive pink granite dome that rises 425 feet above the ground and spans 640 acres.

The park offers several running trails, but the  Loop Trail, a 4.6-mile circuit around the base of Enchanted Rock, is a favorite among runners for its diverse terrain and stunning views. It meanders through wooded areas, crosses sandy washes, and passes by moss-covered boulders, providing a diverse landscape that keeps the run interesting and engaging.

For those looking for a more challenging run, the 1.3-mile out-and-back  Summit Trail leads you to the top of Enchanted Rock. Though only 0.6 miles long, it's a steep climb that will test your stamina. But the panoramic views from the summit, stretching out over the rolling hills and wildflower-strewn meadows of Hill Country, are well worth the effort.

Beyond running, the park offers a plethora of other activities. Rock climbing and bouldering are popular pastimes due to the park's unique geological features. At night, the park transforms into one of the best spots for stargazing in Texas. On clear nights, you can see thousands of stars twinkling in the sky, along with the Milky Way.

Cedar Ridge Outer Loop, Cedar Ridge Preserve, Dallas

Best for: Intermediate

Located just outside Dallas, the Cedar Ridge Preserve is home to several trails. The 5.6-mile  Cedar Ridge outer loop trail winds through the 600-acre Cedar Ridge Preserve and consists of Prairie, Bluebonnet, Escarpment, Fossil Valley, Possumhaw, and Cedar Brake trails. Though often described as moderately challenging, it is well worth the effort for the stunning views and diverse ecosystem it offers.

As you make your way, you'll traverse a variety of terrains, from technical singletrack to smoother paths. The running trail features a 688-foot elevation gain, adding a challenging gradient to your run.

One of the standout features of the trail is its lush vegetation. The preserve is home to native trees, grasses, and wildflowers, creating a vibrant backdrop for your run. In the spring and summer, the trails are adorned with blooming wildflowers, transforming the landscape into a colorful spectacle.

Along the route, you'll also find several lookout points offering panoramic views of the surrounding area, like Cattail Pond. These spots provide a perfect opportunity to catch your breath and soak in the beauty of the preserve.

Despite being a popular spot for outdoor activities, Cedar Ridge Preserve maintains a sense of tranquility and solitude, making it an ideal place for a peaceful run. The preserve also houses butterfly gardens, adding another unique element to your visit.

Chalk Ridge Falls Park Trail, Harker Heights

Best for: Beginner

This 2.5-mile  Chalk Ridge Falls out-and-back trail takes you past a beautiful waterfall, a suspension bridge, and several clear streams. It's a peaceful, picturesque setting that will make your run feel more like a nature walk.

This running trail is generally considered easy to moderate, making it accessible for runners of all levels. The path weaves through a diverse landscape of lush woodlands, serene creeks, and rolling hills. What makes Chalk Ridge Falls particularly enchanting is the clear, spring-fed creek that cascades over a series of limestone ledges, creating the park's namesake waterfalls. The sight of the tumbling water against the backdrop of verdant foliage is truly a spectacle to behold.

The trail also includes several footbridges, including a unique suspension bridge, adding an element of adventure to your run. These bridges also provide excellent vantage points for viewing the creek and falls.

Guadalupe Peak Trail, Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Best for: Expert

Towering over West Texas at an elevation of 8,718 feet, Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in the state. The trail leading to its summit, located near Salt Flat in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, offers one of the most challenging and rewarding running experiences in Texas.

The  Guadalupe Peak Trail is over 8 miles out-and-back and features an elevation gain of nearly 3,000 feet. The trail’s steep and rocky terrain requires stamina and careful footing, but those who conquer it are rewarded with unparalleled views from the "Top of Texas."

The journey to the peak takes runners through a diverse landscape — from high desert to lush forests of pine and Douglas fir. Along the path, you'll encounter local wildlife, unique geological formations, and remnants of the park's rich history.

The Lighthouse Trail, Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Best for: Intermediate

The Lighthouse Trail in Palo Duro Canyon State Park is another must-visit for runners in Texas. Named after the iconic Lighthouse Rock formation that the trail leads to, this route offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical significance.

This out-and-back running trail is approximately 5.8 miles long and features a moderate level of difficulty. It winds through the rugged beauty of Palo Duro Canyon, offering stunning views of the vibrant red rock cliffs and diverse plant and animal life.

The trail culminates at the Lighthouse Rock, standing majestically at 310 feet. From here, you can take in panoramic views of the surrounding canyon — a sight that's especially captivating at sunrise or sunset.


What should I bring for trail running?

Basic essentials include a good pair of trail running shoes, water, energy snacks, and a map or GPS if you're running in a large park or preserve.

Can beginners try these trails?

Yes, trails like the Green Trail at Houston Memorial Park and the Ann and Roy Butler Trail at Lady Bird Lake, for instance, are beginner-friendly.

Are these trails pet-friendly?

Most trails allow pets, but they need to be on a leash. Always check the specific rules of each park or preserve.

Is there an entry fee for these parks or preserves?

Some parks or preserves may have an entry fee. It's best to check their official websites for up-to-date information.

What is the best time to go trail running?

Early morning or late afternoon is ideal as the temperatures are cooler. Always check the weather forecast before heading out.